Hello, Spongey here.
There’s a fair number of things that it seems every reviewer like myself has to cover. A Bayformers movie, a Uwe Boll film, etc, you know what I mean. I’ve tried to cover most of them but there’s one stone left unturned.
Oh yeah, it’s time for …a Direct to Video Disney Sequel.
As you all know, from 1994 to 2008, Disney made tons of Direct to Video sequels to their hit films. They weren’t all awful but most were mediocre and really not worth watching. They were really infamous until John Lasseter finally stepped in and stopped this.
Disney is thankfully not doing DTV films in general anymore. They are steeping back into doing animated series of their films but that trend was pretty good, so I’m fine with that.
I myself was lucky enough to have only seen the few decent ones. Lion King 2, Aladdin 3, etc. I hadn’t seen one I disliked until semi-recently. You can’t blame me for avoiding the infamous ones.
But last December, Doug Walker covered them all in Disneycember so I got…curious. See, Disney, for whatever reason, has packaged some of these sequels with the originals in certain DVD/Blu Ray Releases.
So was the case for Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame which I picked up. Since I had the sequels, I figured I’d watch the day before Doug posted his review for each. …Yeah, I can see why the Sequels get a bad rap.
Mr Enter covered Hunchback 2 pretty well already and I have nothing to add to it. Instead we’ll tackle the sequel to Mulan. I’ll get to talk about the original further someday (hint hint) but in short, I think it’s pretty good.
It has problems, like Mushu being kinda of annoying and the villain being weak, but it’s still a solid film with a strong lead and it’s a fun adventure with “I’ll Make a Man out of you” being one of the best Disney songs of all time, like seriously.
So of course in 2004, Disney decided to crap all over it as they liked to do back then. This one has always been cited as one of the worst Disney Sequels, especially after Doug ranted on it so much that he broke his mic yelling.
Not even kidding about that.
Since I’m reviewed it, you can tell I agree about it being pretty bad. It is easily the worst of the DTV Sequels I’ve seen so far, especially when it comes to insulting the original.
Before we go any further, I should remind you that I first saw this the day before Doug’s review went up, meaning most of my opinions were formed before he said anything, the points others brought up just simply made me really want to chip in.
With that said, let’s go over the creative team. Of the 2 diretors, one has done nothing and the other has done other DTV Sequels like…Lion King 2. Huh. Oh the THREE writers, one did nothing, one did…Heaven is for Real, and the last has done quite a bit, from other Dtv Sequels, to Shrek (Not kidding), to Disney Sitcoms. He’s even still on the latter to this day, writing for Bizzardvark.
Yeah, an odd group to be sure. With that said, how does this sequel bring dishonor to us all? Let’s take a look.
This, is Mulan 2
The movie opens with The Ancestor Ghost people honoring Mushu with his pedestal as the guardian dragon person. Right off the bat, he’s an annoying jerk about it.
“Mulan saves China one time and now he thinks he’s the Emperor”
We just started and already I hate one of the main characters, that’s impressive. But I’ll wait until later to rant on him, oh boy.
After the title sequence, we see some of Mualn’s family hanging in what is the only good scene. There’s some amusing banter here.
“The children all love Mulan”
“And why not? She’s strong, she’s brave, she’s beautiful”
If you to say that, it’s probably not true…especially in this movie.
We meet Mulan as some kids want learn from her. Her first lesson is about balance. She teaches this through our first song. Now to be fair, this song is okay-ish and the best song in this movie.
That isn’t much as the rest are not good. Not awful but there’s too few, some are rehashes and the music just isn’t grand enough for what these songs are trying to accomplish. This becomes more apparent later.
After the lesson, Shang shows up and proposes to her. We don’t actually hear said proposal because pfft, who wants to see that? Also, this is supposedly only a month after the first movie so maybe they are going too fast.
But it’s Disney so whatever.
Mushu is actually happy to hear it, the only time in the entire movie where he’s close to being a good person.
“This is must be a magical moment for you”
“It’s not every day you get engaged”
“No, I meant telling me you’re engaged. After all, I gave you and pretty boy the hook up”
…Nevermind. Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Mushu is far and away the worst part of this movie. As I said, he was a bit annoying in the first movie, but only a bit. He’s actually okay for most of it, and you at least can tell he does care about Mulan on some level.
Here? Nope. He’s an annoying selfish asshole for all of this. But oh trust me, it gets worse. Mushu announces to The Ancestors that Mulan is getting married.
They are very happy…because when Mulan gets married, Mushu loses his pedestal…for some reason. Can’t say I blame for throwing a party over this.
He’s distraught but Cricket attempts to set him straight.
‘I gotta kiss my pedestal goodbye, because my girls’ happiness comes first”
Good on you. Mulan’s folks appear to give her and Shang a gift to remind them of how harmony is important and yada yada.
“Mulan and Shang are as different as sun and rain. And when the infatuation wears off, their tree of life is gonna end up with root rot. Oh sure she seems happy, that’s the real tradgey here. The girl don’t even realize how miserable she is. That’s why I gotta nip this thing in the bud…This is not about my pedestal, this is about Mulan making the biggest mistake of my, I mean her life!”
….I…f…where do I even start with that? What the hell?! I told he gets worse. Mushu went from just being annoying to be a gigantic selfish asshole. Yes, he plans to break up just to keep his pedestal.
Do I even need to explain why this is bad?! Before he could be seen as harmless but this is just…..wooooow. And this is more or less the main conflict, believe ir not. Oh, there’s more but most of it wouldn’t happen without Mushu’s dumb plan.
More on that as we go on.
The Emperor calls on Mulan and Shang so they head to the palace where he tells them the Mongols’ have been attacking but he has a plan. He wants to form an alliance with another kingdom.
“You will across 3 princesses to Qui Gong. There, they will marry Lord Chen’s sons, and seal this critical this alliance…If this wedding does not take place, the alliance will crumble and the Mongols will destroy us”
And here’s our real plot. At first it doesn’t sound too bad, but needless to say the execution is….weak. Remember that last part, it’ll be important later.
Mulan isn’t sure about this arranged marriage thing, even though it’s at least for a good reason. Trust me I’ll say more about that as we go on, like everything else. Shang only needs 3 men to help and he picks Yao, Ling and Chien Po of course.
Even though they’re far from ideal picks, especially in this movie. Heck, we do a comedic cut to them being fools. They’re sad because they can’t find a girl. I care very deeply about this. They jump into our 2nd song, a rehash of A Girl Worth Fighting for.
Meh. Being based on a good song gives it an advantage, but it’s still pretty lazy. It doesn’t even last long before Mulan and Shang show up. Lame.
That night, they start their mission and meet the 3 Princesses. They talk a bit and head out.
“Just enough time to stop Mulan from making the biggest mistake of my, I mean her life”
I hate you.
I think now is a good time to discuss the animation. For the most part, it’s actually pretty good especially by DTV Sequels standard. The character animation is decently fluid and the backgrounds are nice.
It’s not without it’s problems. The character animation can be a bit too much, leading to some uncanny expressions, especially in an infamous scene we’ll get to. But for the most part, the animation is the one of the few positives to be found.
Anyway, Mulan is starting to have 2nd thoughts on this due to the arranged marriage thing.
“In an ideal world, everyone would marry for love. But the world isn’t perfect”
I know, because this movie exists.
While he’s a tiny bit too accepting of all this, he’s got a point. But I’m sure the film will see both sides of this and treat this issue with respect and not horribly dumb it down.
Yao falls for one the princesses and she seems to return the feelings.
“But you didn’t even talk to him”
“A true romantic can tell”
Arraigned marriage is bad, but saying you’re in love without speaking to them is good. Huh. It’s worth noting most of the film’s screentime is spent on the 3 princesses, these 3 “Soldiers”, or Mushu with Mulan being more of a side character for most of it.
What, were you expecting Mulan 2 to be about Mulan? Puh-lease.
They take a break and the princesses interact with the bumbling soldiers, but the one Ling is paired with isn’t too crazy about it. Which of course means they are meant to be.
“Many people call me a royal pain”
Gee, I have no idea why. Also, Ling is annoying here.
Sadly, it’s time for Mushu to become important again as he puts his plan into action. We get a montage of him trying to mess with the two but it just ends up giving them some cute moments.
At one point a horse stomps on Mushu. That’s the highlight of the movie.
He accidentally makes their carriage go out of control and crash but they make it out fine. Great, now Mushu accidentally almost killed everyone. Lovely.
“I bet he and Mulan are two nasty words from an all out feud”
Have I mentioned I hate you?
This indeed happens as the argue over if they should follow their map or not.
“What if we get lost?”
“The we pull over and ask directions”
“We don’t need to pull over and ask directions. We have a map”
“What if is with men and asking directions?”
After writing that, I read it in Dory’s voice instead. You’re right, I would much rather be watching Finding Nemo/Dory right now.
Yao conveniently finds a Forrest path which solves that argument, then they kiss and make up. Well, it’s nice they can things out quickly I guess. Mushu is still going to be a dick though.
Mei is really starting to fall for Yao and wants to give up the mission. Again, interesting set up for something they totally botch. This brings up to our next song, with them going on about how they want to be like other girls.
…In this time period, where girls normally don;t get to do all this crazy stuff they sing about wanting to do. Infact, they really shouldn’t want to be like other girls. Mulan, the title character, isn’t like “other girls” and that’s kind of a good thing.
Yeah, they kind of missed the point here.
Mushu goes up to a half-sleeping Shang and tricks him into thinking she’s bad mouthed him, using a fake Mulan and his Mulan impression. I didn’t know Mushu was good at impressions. And by that I mean just having the actresses say lines so we can excuse Shang being too stupid to not realize Discount Eddie Murphy (because of course even this movie was beneath the real guy) and Ming Na sound nothing alike.
Jokes aside, screw Mushu. Like wow, here he goes too far. This is just, wow. Shang gets up and yells at Mulan leads to this!
…Told ya the expressions get…out of hand.
But yeah, Mushu tells Mulan maybe this is a sign it won’t work. I know I’m getting repetitive but my god he is just so terrible here! His shtick isn’t charming or funny, it’s so bad! I’m not sure how you could possibly do something like this without making the character in question horrible but this was most certainly not the way to do it.
We interrupt the plot to have the guys and princesses go to this village without permission, for reasons that elude me. This pisses off Mulan but pleases Mushu, because I guess the writers figured we haven’t wanted to punch him in the last 5 seconds so let’s fix that.
“Don’t you understand Chinese”
…You’re speaking English.
Mulan tells Mushu that Shang shouldn’t know about this so of course he wakes him up. Boo. At the village, the princesses and the 3 guys start to bond which I guess is almost nice, but at this point all hopes of me caring about anything in this movie are gone.
Mulan shows up and as soon as they quickly explain, she’s happy. That was easy. Shang on the other hand, is not happy. He yells at them for even thinking of dropping the mission and tells off the bumbling solider guys.
I get why he’s mad, but yeesh, he’s a jerk here. He even goes off on Mulan to make him even worse.
“This assignment has made it clear. We are very different people”
“Maybe too different”
I could go off on Mushu, but to be fair, what he does just brings up some issues they always had and makes them address them, but the execution is beyond contrived and the way they settle this later…oh boy, we’ll get there.
So they get back on the trail and everyone’s sad…except Mushu.
“Isn’t it a great day?”
Mulan is too mopey to really talk to Mushu and he actually starts to feel guilty. Then he confesses. Okay, he gets one point. Doesn’t make for EVERYTHING ELSE but whatever.
“You mean you got between Shang and Me so you could keep your job?’
When you say it like that it sounds horrible! Because it is.
“What you did was unforgivable”
I see the movie is reviewing itself now.
Mulan sees one good thing about this: It means all her problems with Shang weren’t real problems and were just due to Mushu so that solves everything. Yep,there there absolutely no issues under the surface that Mushu happened to bring up
Yeah, they not only just sweep their problems under the rug but it makes basically the entire personal conflict of this film entirely pointless! There is still the arranged marriage stuff I guess, but making half of your plot based around a misunderstanding caused by a character being terrible is bad writing, to say the least.
Then because reasons, Bandits attack to give us an action scene. To be sure, any excuse to break up the crappy story is fine by me and this does add something. Mulan and Shang end up up on a bridge, which the bandits cut down.
Mulan is able to save herself and she’s holding Shang too but he decides to be heroic just goes “Save yourself” when he falls. I appreciate the attempt at drama but at this point, I just don’t care.
They treat this as dramatically as they should at least, they just happened to ruin it with the bad writing before hand. After this, the princesses will go through with the wedding. And the scene right after shows Shang surviving.
Eh, would have been more dramatic if we found out at the same time Mulan did. Also, of course he didn’t die, the movie would have been over quicker.
They make it to their destination and Mulan tells the Emperor here that the princesses all died and she will be arranged to be married in their place. Yeah, she’s that broken up over Shang’s “Death”.
I guess I could see this working with all the writing problems, especially regarding Shang and Mulan, it doesn’t exactly hit it’s mark. And of course, the person she is getting married to not only a jerk, but a tad young.
“She’s so old!”
Because to really show that arranged marriage is only bad, he can’t be a good person. Nope. Shang meets up with the others, who are glad he’s alive. So thus he runs off to save the day.
“I would give up 1000 pedestals to stop this”
Ever heard the phrase “Too little too late”, Mushu?
A bit later, the wedding starts, but Shang crashes is, romantic comedy style. Yep, this is what Mulan has come to. Not fighting evil people, just a big cliché like this.
Lord Qin wants Shang seized for disrupting a wedding that will unite the kingdoms but then Mushu steps in, pretending to be the Golden dragon of unity through contrived means. He forces Qin to wed Mulan and Shang as they are right for each other. Also he says the princesses can marry who they please.
That’s nice and all…but what about the kingdoms? Do we have an alliance or what? Are they all fine just because this guy told them it’s fine? Are we going to address or that just imply China is doomed?
Because…uh yeah, that’s a point others brought up even I wasn’t focused on when I watched this. Marrying for love is nice and all, but are we just going to ignore the pretty legit reason you’re doing this? Qin is treated like a bad guy, but he just isn’t!
This is a pretty huge oversight on the writers part. They could have at least handwaved this, or even tried to find a comprise that would still unite the kingdoms. But I guess everything is fine because of an incredibly forced and rushed climax. Ugh.
Later, Mushu is leaving his pedestal. Sorry, after all the shit he did, this turn around fails hard. Shang shows up and combines the family temples which apparently means Mushu keeps his pedestal.
Yeah, that thing that was his motivation for being so horrible in even the movie’s eyes? He gets it after all. I don’t even know what to say other than ugggggggh. Oh, and Mulan told Shang all about Mushu and Shang isn’t at all upset over the crap he did because whatever.
Shang even did the temple thing even though it would make more sense to be Mulan’s idea. Mushu then goes right back to being a jerk to everyone, including the ancestors. Thus showing he has learned absolutely nothing.
Fuck you, Mushu. And the film ends here, because of course it book ends itself with Mushu being terrible. Also, hooray for rushed endings that don’t address Mulan’s side of this. It’s not like her name is in the title or anything.
At the end of the credits, they say “This film would not have been possible without the inspiration from the original motion picture and the work of it’s talented artists and animators”
Do I comment on them needing to say this almost to remind us that at least the original exits, or on how they’re almost pinning the blame of the existence of this movie on the original.
Either way, we’re done.
Wow, this was a bad one. At least it’s short, only an hour and 13 minutes. To be fair, the animation is decent, and there are some good moments and ideas here and there. Sometimes, they do try,
But most of the time, they don’t. The problems seem pretty obvious at this point. They try to have a “Marry for love” lesson but use in a story where that marriage is happening to unite 2 kingdoms in order to stop some Mongols.
And they don’t address that at all and just simplify it to it’s most basic element which is just…wrong. Some films could and have done something like this while actually addressing the little elephant in the room, this making for a satisfying story. Didn’t Brave do something like that, actually?
The story ends up being pretty broken two. The marriage conflict ends up being too simple and the Mulan/Shang conflict is completely dropped once they find out Mushu did because all the issues he brought to the surface just no longer exist.
Thus, the only other conflict is totally forced. And did I mention Mushu is an annoying unlikable prick? I won’t say more on that but yeah, Mushu sucks hard in this. He makes it all even worse.
The poorly written plot in turns make all the characters numbed down or extremely annoying. Mushu’s portrayal plus the broken writing make this a bad one. It’s certainly an insult to the good movie and is just a badly written film in general.
Some Disney Sequels have less of a story due to that 3 segments thing, but of all the ones with a story, this is the worst I’ve seen. Hunchback 2 has less good things in it but is mostly just ungodly boring, this is piss me off bad at points.
So yeah, it’s a bad one with a badly written story and tons of other issues that add up to quite the frustrating experience. Avoid it and stick with the good one.
(If you’re wondering, the DVD has a quick feature on the cast, which has a running gag of Mushu not being mentioned until the end because even they knew he sucked. There’s also Deleted Scenes which I will not watch If the stuff that made it in is this bad)
As for next time, let’s do something good. Not saying what it is, it’s a fun surprise.