Mulan is the thirty-sixth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation, and first released on June 5, 1998 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. Loosely based on various versions of the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan (Fa Mulan), the film was the first of three produced primarily at the animation studio at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Glendale, California. It was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook, with the story by Robert D. San Souci.
The most notable voice cast member of the film was Eddie Murphy, who provided the voice for the dragon Mushu. Other cast members included Ming-Na as Fa Mulan and B.D. Wong as Captain Li Shang.
The film outgrossed its predecessors, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules in domestic income, taking over $120 million and over $304 million worldwide. It is among one of Disney's most popular and successful movies to date.
The Chinese legend of Hua Mulan centers on a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take the place of her elderly father in the army. The story can be traced back to The Ballad of Mulan. The earliest accounts of the legend state that she lived during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534). However another version reports that Mulan was requested as a concubine by Emperor Yang of Sui China (reigned 604–617). The film may take place even later, as it prominently features landmarks such as the Forbidden City which was not constructed until the 15th Century. On the other hand, at the time of Northern Wei, the Xiongnu (called Huns in the movie) had already absorbed into Chinese and other races and disappeared on the stage of history.
Disney's Mulan casts the title in much the same way as the original legendary heroine, a rough-around-the-edges daughter of a respected veteran, somewhat troubled by being the "sophisticated lady" her society expects. When Hun invaders prompt the empire to draft male soldiers from families, Mulan runs off, dressed as a man, to enlist and keep her aging father from being sent to the front line to his doom. A fair source of humor in the movie is Mulan disguising her gender among her newfound soldier friends.
At the same time, Mushu (an unusually small dragon) plans to protect and encourage Mulan, but mostly to heal his tarnished reputation amongst the late Fa family's departed guardians.
Although Mulan is weak in comparison to her fellow soldiers, she works hard and soon becomes a respected part of her group, which is led by Captain Li Shang. She soon falls in love with him, and it seems he feels the same affections.
After Mulan "defeats" the Huns with her ingenious plan, Shang finds out that she is actually not a man, and kicks her out of the group. Before Mulan leaves the battlefield, she finds out that the Huns are actually alive and warns Shang and the emperor. Eventually, she ends up saving the kingdom and living happily ever after.
To create 2000 Hun soldiers during the Huns' attack sequence, the production team developed a crowd simulation software called Attila. This software allows thousands of unique characters to move autonomously. A variant of the program called Dynasty was used in the final battle sequence to create a crowd of 3000 in the Forbidden City. Pixar's photorealistic Renderman was used to render the crowd.
Another software developed for this movie was Faux Plane which was used to add depth to flat two-dimensional painting. Although developed late in production progress, Faux Plane was used in five shots, including the dramatic sequence which features the Great Wall of China, and the final battle sequence when Mulan runs to the Forbidden City.
- "Honor to Us All" — Beth Fowler, Marnie Nixon, Lea Salonga
- "Reflection" — Lea Salonga
- "I'll Make a Man Out of You" — Donny Osmond
- "A Girl Worth Fighting For" — Harvey Fierstein, James Hong, Lea Salonga, Jerry Tondo, Matthew Wilder
- "True to Your Heart (Single)" — 98*, Stevie Wonder
- "Suite from Mulan"
- "Attack at the Wall (Score)"
- "Mulan's Decision (Score)"
- "Blossoms (Score)"
- "The Huns (Score)"
- "The Burned-Out Village (Score)"
- "Reflection (Pop Version)" — Christina Aguilera
- The traditional name for the leaders of the Chinese Huns was Shanyu. The war between the Huns and China was real. It is called the Sino-Xiongnu War. Hua Mulan probably lived during the Northern Wei dynasty, which is when the last of the Chinese Huns' states came to an end.
- In Mulan, characters are rendered in an artstyle reminiscent of Chinese art. The character of Mulan is a departure from previous Disney female leads; she isn't a princess, but a strong, beautiful and capable warrior. The only other adult human Disney heroines who are not of royal blood are Belle from 1991's Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella from 1950's Cinderella. It should be noted, however, that both young maidens marry into royal bloodlines and can be counted as royalty..
- Although she is not officially a Princess, Mulan is often regarded as one of the Disney Princesses.
- Jackie Chan provides the speaking and also the singing voice of Captain Li Shang in both the Cantonese and Mandarin versions of the movie. A music video of him singing "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" can be found on the film's 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. In the original, this song is performed by Donny Osmond.
- Kelly Chen and CoCo Lee provide the voice of Mulan in the Cantonese and Mandarin versions of the film respectively. As they are both professional singers, they also sing the film's songs too.
- In the film Lilo & Stitch, Nani has a poster of Mulan in her room.
- The movie is also featured as a playable world named "The Land of Dragons" in Kingdom Hearts II, with Mulan able to join the group as a skilled swordfighter. Prior to that, Mushu has made an appearance in the first Kingdom Hearts game, as well as Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, as a summonable character. This has been referenced in flashbacks in KH2, as well as Mushu's immediate recognition to Sora, Donald and Goofy. Much like most of the Disney villains in the series with the notable exception of Hector Barbossa, Shan-Yu's troops (In his case, the Huns that he led in the movie) have been replaced by Heartless. It is possible that Shan-Yu's troops were turned into Heartless. Also, there are some notable differences in the storyline, such as all of the inhabitants of the Land of Dragons are aware of Mushu's existence and instead of Mulan's identity being revealed by a sword wound, Mushu blabs it out by accident.
- One of the movie's songs, the pop version of "Reflection" has 3 Spanish translations, because the movie has separate Spanish translations for Spain and Latin America. The third translation was done by Christina Aguilera.
- The Disney cartoon film popularised the version "Fa Mulan". This "Fa" pronunciation of "花" is to be found in various Chinese dialects, including Cantonese.
- The Korean version of "Reflection" is sung by Lena Park.
- The Mexican version of "Reflection" is sung by Lucero.
- When Mulan sings "Reflection" in her father's shrine, her reflection appears in the polished surface of the temple stones. The writing on the temple stones is the names of the Disney animators who worked on the film written in ancient Chinese.
- The scene where Mulan disarms Shan-Yu with a fan shows an actual martial art technique
- In the scene where Mushu awakens the ancestors, one set of grandparents worry that Mulan's quest will ensure her family loses their farm. This couple appear to be the couple on the farm in Grant Wood's famous painting 'American Gothic'
- Hidden Mickey: The spots on Shang's horse's neck and rump are shaped like a Mickey Mouse motif. There are also other hidden Mickeys in the film.
- Chi Fu's name literally means, in Chinese, "to pester or annoy".
- Mushu has a lot of lines that tie back to pop culture. For example, when Mushu and Crickie fly over to the fireworks tower, Mushu scares the fireworks operators away by casting a Batman-like shadow and exclaiming "Citizens, I need firepower." "Who are you? "Your worst nightmare".
- Mulan is also one of only two Disney heroines (the other being Princess Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty") to have both parents alive and well.
|Ming-Na||Mulan the main protagonist of the film.|
|Eddie Murphy||Mushu Mulan's guardian and the deurtagonist.|
|B.D. Wong||Captain Li Shang|
|Miguel Ferrer||Shan Yu leader of the Huns and the main antagonist of the film.|
|James Hong||Chi Fu the Emperor's advisor who seems to hate women, and the secondary antagonist.|
|Soon-Tek Oh||Fa Zhou|
|June Foray||Grandmother Fa|
|Frank Welker|| Khan|
|Pat Morita||The Emperor of China|
|George Takei||First Ancestor Fa|
|Freda Foh Shen||Fa Li|
|Miriam Margolyes||The Matchmaker|
|Lea Salonga||Fa Mulan|
|Donny Osmond||Captain Li Shang|
|Mark Henn|| Fa Mulan|
|Ruben A. Aquino|| Captain Li Shang|
|Pres Antonio Romanillos|| Khan|
|Aaron Blaise|| Yao|
|Broose Johnson|| Ling|
|Jeffery J. Varab|| Grandmother Fa|
- Sino-Xiongnu War
- Mulan II, the direct-to-video sequel to the film
- Cross-dressing in film and television
- Who’s Your Heroine? Negotiating Asian American superpower in Disney's Mulan
- Mulan (1998) at the Internet Movie Database
- Mulan at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Mulan (1998) at the Internet Movie Database