Making direct-to-DVD sequels of blockbuster titles has become a booming business for Disney Studios. Because all the work of creating characters and conceptualizing art design are already done, recycling the materials and assembling a second story is relatively easy and inexpensive.
Mulan II, a perfect example of this marketing strategy, picks up the tale of the young girl who dressed like a boy and went to war to saved China, right where the last animation concluded. Mulan (again voiced by Ming-Na) has returned to her home and is anxiously awaiting a proposal from her former commander Shang (B.D.Wong also reprises his role). But the handsome warrior hardly has time to pop the question before a letter arrives summoning the couple on a dangerous mission.
Hoping to strengthen the country against her enemies, the Emperor (Pat Morita) is negotiating strategic alliances with a neighboring kingdom. Now he needs an armed guard to safely escort the Princesses Mei, Ting Ting and Su (voiced by Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh and Lauren Tom) across the boarder where they will wed to seal their nations' coalition. Although the idea of arranged marriages sits poorly with the headstrong Mulan, she readily accepts the assignment because of her great loyalty to the crown. Following Shang's lead, the pair enlists the services of their three most trusted friends and fellow soldiers, Yao (Harvey Fierstein), Ling (Gedde Watanabe) and Chien-Po (Jerry Tondo).
Meanwhile Mushu (now voiced by Mark Moseley), who has been basking in the rays of self-importance since he helped Mulan achieve her great success, discovers his status amongst the deceased ancestors will be extinguished the moment his prodigy takes a husband. Suddenly the pint-sized dragon's mind is illuminated with a thousand reasons why Mulan and Shang are all wrong for each other, so he determines to convince his little girl to call off the engagement.
Although Mushu's intentions to cause a break-up are blatant, Mulan's willingness to share her twentieth century, feminist attitudes prove just as effective at sowing seeds of doubt in the hearts of the betrothed princesses. Watering with fortune-cookie-style words of wisdom such as, "my duty is to my heart," Mulan, whether by accident or design, soon has the royals sprouting feelings of discontent.
Parents may also find their sense of disappointment growing as they observe the obvious"girl power" anachronisms and depictions of situational ethics. While other content concerns may seem minimal (they include some moments of peril, threats of violence and non-graphic swordplay), the movie's spirit of rebellion, poor craftsmanship and awkward slapstick humor make an ill-fitting production out of these hand-me-down characters.
Home Video Release Date: 1 February 2004
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Lacking in the polish and perfection of the original movie (especially where storyline is concerned), Mulan II picks up the tale as the former warrior accepts a marriage proposal from Shang and a dangerous mission from the Emperor. Martial arts fighting and training are depicted, along with swordplay and hand-to-hand conflict. Characters find themselves in peril due to a run-away cart that careens over a cliff, an ambush from a group of bandits and a faulty suspension bridge. The ghosts of one of Mulan’s ancestors is headless—although there is no gore, he is often shown holding his head in his hands. Two characters briefly engage in gambling and fortune telling. Mulan’s unconventional behavior (such as pretending to be man and taking her Father’s place in the army) also causes others to question traditional roles, as well as their duty and honor towards parents and country.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
Situational ethics is a term used to describe the idea of applying moral laws (such as duty and honor) in different ways, depending upon the situation. How is Mulan’s statement “my duty is to my heart” an example of this type of rationalization? What moral laws does this perspective allow the characters to overlook? Do you think they were right or wrong in their decision process? Do you think people living in China between 500-600AD (the time setting of this story) would have reasoned the way the characters do in this movie? To what century do these considerations belong?
Mulan’s parents try to teach their daughter about yin and yang, a Chinese philosophy about the existence of opposites in all things. How do they hope this understanding will improve her chances of a happy marriage? Learn more about this philosophy.
This film is the direct-to-DVD sequel of Disney’s theatrical movie Mulan. Other female characters that have taken on the duties of warrior include Eowyn in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and Susan and Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian).
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: Mulan 1 and 2: 15th Anniversary Edition (3Disc)
Release Date: 12 March 2013
Celebrating its 15 Anniversary, Disney’s Mulan is releasing in a Blu-ray Combo Pack that also includes the movie Mulan 2. Other bonus extras are:
Blu-ray: Mulan Feature Film and Mulan II Feature Film
- 11 Deleted Scenes
- 15 Backstage Disney Featurettes
- 6 Music Videos featuring Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, 98, Jackie Chan and more.
- Audio Commentary
DVD: Mulan Feature Film
- 7 Deleted Scenes
- 2 Backstage Disney Featurettes
- 5 Music Videos
- Audio Commentary
DVD: Mulan II Feature Film
- 4 Deleted Scenes
- 1 Backstage Disney Featurette
- Music Video performed by Atomic Kitten
DVD Release Date: 12 August 2008
Walt Disney Home Entertainment is releasing a Collector’s Edition, combining the Mulan: 2-Disc Special Edition and its sequel Mulan II.
Bonus extras for the first film include deleted scenes, music videos (with Jackie Chan and Christina Aguilera), a featurette (The World of Mulan) and games (Mulan’s World and Fun Facts). The second movie also shares deleted scenes, a music video, featurettes (The World of Mulan and Voices of Mulan II), and Mushu’s Guess Who Game.
Audio Tracks are in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (English, French and Spanish).