In the rush to contrast the early-nineties Disney golden age (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King) with the current crop of underperformers (Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range) that have resulted in Disney's foolhardy decision to jettison hand-drawn animation, some pretty decent films have been lost in the shuffle. Disney's Mulan, for example, is a beautifully drawn and exciting little adventure movie from 1998 (when it was a decent-sized hit, too). It's no kind of classic, but who says Disney Animation can't put out something minor now and again?
In their own ways, the late-nineties Disney cartoons (which include the similarly mythical Hercules and Tarzan) take risks in stylization and subject matter. The semi-experiment here is to craft a story around a strong female protagonist who is not, on any level, a princess (even intelligent and bookish Belle in Beauty and the Beast is defined by a love story with a prince, handsome or not). The title character (voiced by Ming-Na (now sans the Wen)) masquerades as a man in order to take her aging father's place in the Chinese army; it won't spoil your enjoyment to know that she isn't instantly killed and forgotten.
Continue reading: Mulan Review