Plot: Mulan, Shang and their fellow warriors from the first movie return, and love is in the air, snookums. ~~♥
I loved Mulan. Despite having historical accuracy problems (Well, of course) it’s a very intense, exciting and interesting movie with a kick-ass lead who was finally female. The visuals were great, the style was different, the music was awesome (though I could’ve done without the totally out of place ‘True to Your Heart’ at the end) and it did some things to bend the common Disney rules.
I remember seeing the promos for the sequel and just being like….eh. This plot is really a reason for a sequel? Oh yeah, money.
Mulan 2….is about Shang proposing to Mulan and the three guys from the army, Yao, Ling and Chien-Po finding three princesses (sisters, no less) who are perfect for them. However, the princesses are all set for an arranged marriage and Mulan, Shang and the boys are escorting them there. Gee, I wonder what will happen.
So we have a kick-ass female lead who saved China in a movie that only really touched upon romance (and, if you’ll remember, also brought up the topic of arranged marriages) but was mostly politics, war, some comedy and action. Follow that up with proposals, marriage, arranged marriage and a common sequel trope, giving practically everyone who ended up with no one in the last movie significant others. Uh. Huh.
One note about the poster, Mulan is never in her old army garb during the course of the entire movie. Which, now that I really think about it, is immensely stupid. I know they’re just on an escort mission, but they’re still transporting three princesses to a marriage that is supposed to greatly benefit China. Shang is the only one who wears armor during the entire movie, and guess what? He only wears it in the very beginning simply to show that he’s now a general. When he’s on the mission with Mulan and the others, he’s wearing regular clothes just like the rest of them. Trusting a group of five people with a mission and with people this important was shaky enough, but not giving them armor is just stupid.
And look at that tag line. “The Epic Journey Continues.” Also known as “well, we didn’t know what to say about this movie so we pulled out generic sequel tagline #387E.” Also, that’s a blatant lie. The ‘journey’ from the first movie had a solidified end and the events of this movie, barring Mulan and Shang getting together, have 100% nothing to do with the first movie. The huns don’t appear, no one’s here to avenge the huns, it has nothing to do with war, there’s no army involved, there are no battles, there is no villain or even an antagonist; it’s just an escort mission with a bunch of tacked on romance crap.
Let’s get on with the review. I should at least be to the title screen before I burst a blood vessel.
Our movie starts out with Mushu who apparently is now treating the other honorable ancestors as servants who evidently are obliged to follow his every whim now…..Why? I have no damn clue. I know it’s implied that he got his job back after the events of the last movie, but the very last line indicates that he’s still a subordinate. How and why did it shift to him basically acting like an entitled douche with the honorable ancestors doing quite literally everything to sate his wishes? Even going so far as to blow into his bath with straws to make a whirlpool effect.
Cut to Mulan’s house where her parents and grandma are talking about whether or not Shang will propose to Mulan. She starts a betting pool about whether or not he will and of course he will. I guarantee they’ll be married by movie’s end….
A little girl who is so obnoxiously ‘cute’ I can clearly imagine that the script just puts “Obnoxiously cute little girl” by all of her lines shows up asking where Mulan is. Mulan’s mom says she’s out back doing chores when we then see her practicing martial arts with a rake.
Also, Mulan has been reunited with Little Brother, the little dog from the very beginning of the first movie. He’s here to be cute for this one scene and then disappear again for the rest of the movie….Why give her a dog at all? I was thinking maybe he was in these movies more than I thought, but no. He’s there when Mulan’s getting dressed in the first movie then he vanishes never to be seen again, then he appears for this opening scene and is never seen again. Do we just need an animal sidekick to fill in for Mushu when he’s not around?
The little girl as well as a slue of other kids who pop out of nowhere spot her and want her to teach them to do stuff like that as well.
The art style is slightly different for this movie; common for Disney sequels. It’s not too bad, it just looks more simplistic and bright, but Mulan just doesn’t look like Mulan. Her face is too rounded now (though I’m aware her character design was slightly changed to be more pointed during scenes where she’s masquerading as a man; she still doesn’t look the same as her feminine design in the first movie), her hair doesn’t look right, her lips look huge from far away, and for some reason she keeps going cross-eyed when we pan away from her.
Mulan tries to teach the kids some moves, but her methods aren’t really sinking in with the kids so we have to have a song now; “Lesson Number 1.” You know how some people rag on TLK2 for having songs that are basically mirrors of the first movie’s songs? Well, this is basically the equivalent to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from the first movie only not nearly as catchy and instead of furthering the story or giving us any intel on a character, it’s just basically filler. It’s not that bad of a song to be honest, in fact it is somewhat catchy, but there’s no point to it.
Also, in the first shot of the song, Mulan grabs the same rake she was using, spins it in the air then the rake part suddenly disappears so that she can use it as a proper boh staff. I was actually expecting the head to fly off and hit some random passerby in the face, but it just vanishes.
And, really, these kids are doing some pretty damn impressive moves for ‘Lesson number 1”
Shang shows up acting all awkward because love and whatnot, and he proposes to Mulan…In like three seconds….and we can’t hear what they’re saying. She leads him to the bench, she sits down, he kneels and not like a couple seconds later she’s, well, squeeing and tackling him to the ground. I’m sorry….is this the same Mulan? Like….at all? She was the real Mulan a minute ago but now she’s….squeeing. I get it, she’s happy she’s going to get married, mazel tov, but that just seems kinda OOC….
Mushu: “It seems like just last month we were saving China.”
Mulan: “It WAS last month.”
HUH!? A one month jump…that’s it? ….Well, I was going to bring up how that’s pretty fast for them to get married….especially considering he’s probably known Mulan a lot longer as a man than a woman, but seeing the arranged marriage angle I guess I can’t harp on it. Plus, that’s an eternity for a Disney romance.
Mulan, Shang and Mushu start preparing the wedding and Mushu goes to tell the ancestors the good news. And the news is very good. For them. Because apparently there’s a rule that says once the daughter of the family has married, the guardians of the husband’s family take over. Meaning Mushu’s job is gone and he’s going back to gong boy. So they’re happier than Team Rocket at a giant insane contraption store. However, Mushu, obviously, is deeply saddened by this.
Here’s where we get another contrast to the first movie. The ancestors just seemed to be jerks to Mushu for the sake of being jerks before. He’s annoying to deal with, and that probably contributed to it, but they still treated him like crap when it seemed unprompted. Here, you sympathize far more with the ancestors as they cheer Mushu’s future firing because Mushu has been acting like an obnoxious egotistical power-abuser this whole time.
Meanwhile, Mulan and Shang are talking with a bunch of people about their wedding plans and Mulan’s parents notice that Shang and Mulan have basically completely opposite opinions on how their wedding should be and their future plans after they’re married. Uh oh! Not like opposites attract and there’s such a thing as compromise or anything. THEY’RE DOOMED!
…..They really never realized that they have such stark and contrasting views on nearly everything until now?
A soldier bursts in saying the emperor has summoned them for an incredibly important meeting. Before they head off, Mulan’s parents give them the lesson of Yin and Yang (opposites work in harmony, but only if they decide to work together) and they give each of them a half of their own Taijitu (Yin Yang) necklaces that have been passed down through the generations.
Mushu, watching this, uses their opposite-ness as an excuse to be a selfish ass and vows to tear them apart since Mulan can never be happy with someone so different; proving that Mushu never listens to a damn thing and is annoying as hell. But hey we needed more conflict….
The emperor has summoned the meeting to give them an important mission. Relations with another kingdom are shaky, and he wants to avoid war with that nation by forging an alliance through marriage. His daughters will marry some Lord guy’s sons…..Wow, he has daughters that young when he’s THAT old. Dayum, emperor got it going on!
Mulan is against it, but doesn’t really voice her concerns that much against the emperor because, well, royalty…..And ya know…she had nothing really against it in the first movie. She was actually disappointed that she couldn’t get matched….
And the alternative is another war in China, Mulan. This is definitely one of those times when the lives of many outweighs the happiness of a few. I’m not saying I like the concept of arranged marriages but in China, especially in her era, it was pretty commonplace wasn’t it? Why is she so against it now?
Shang says he only needs three soldiers to complete the job and we cut to Ling, Yao and Chien-Po being thrown out of the matchmaker’s office while she screams that she’d never be able to find wives for men with such little personality….They have plenty of personality, they’re just stupid. Also, I have to wonder why this matchmaker exists. She seems to only find matches for gorgeous perfectly mannered people who honestly would have no trouble finding husbands/wives on their own.
They wonder why they can’t find anyone for them and they list off all the stuff they’re looking for in women; that they’ll treat them like gods and do menial chores for them….I’m so unbelievably glad that the events of the last movie taught them a lesson about sexism.
Keeping up with the theme of taking a song from the last movie and just making a different song that basically conveys the same message theme going, we get the mirror to “A Girl Worth Fighting For” with “A Girl Worth Fighting For (Reprise)” Yup….it’s the exact same song just with only the three of them singing instead of a whole army and slightly different lyrics. Meaning it’s the same song only not nearly as good. Talk about lazy.
Actually, this song just makes you wish you were listening to the original version because this version is depressing. The first one was them singing about them being hopeful of finding wives once the war was over. This one is them singing about how they’re depressed that they can’t find wives now that the war is over.
Why aren’t they getting more respect anyway? Mulan and Shang seem to be doing incredibly well and appear to be very popular, but these guys don’t seem to get any respect. Granted, they are still idiots, but they mean well for the most part.
The song ends as abruptly as the original’s when the boys get thrown out of a restaurant for fighting. You know, the abrupt ending of the song in the original was due to the sudden transition between hope, daydreaming about romance and playfulness to seeing a village completely destroyed and seeing evidence that a small girl died in the attack. In this version, the song ends abruptly because the original’s did. There’s no sudden change in tone, it’s just that they got thrown out.
They see Mulan and Shang before them who tell them that they have a mission for them if they want to take it, and they eagerly agree.
Cut to later that night where the guarding and escorting begin. Cue the first “Disney princess-esque falling in love at first sight” thing where Yao instantly goes goo goo eyed over the princess with the two side buns.
At this point, you can predict nearly everything that will happen in this movie. Four major things.
1) The princesses will each fall in love with the boys.
2) The princesses will end up with the boys and relations between the other kingdom will end up fine otherwise for some reason.
3) Mulan will marry Shang
4) Mushu will try to ruin their marriage, but will not be able to go through with it or feel regret and reverse whatever he does and get his old job or a better one at the end of the movie despite the fact that he doesn’t deserve it.
Since there’s no antagonist presented to us, those are the only things I can imagine will happen.
The girl with the hair buns shows that she likes Yao as well, and uses the opportunity of a water break to chat up Yao.
The giggly girl with the weird ponytail is gathering pears so since this is food related….Chien-Po?
Chien-Po helps her reach some pears so I guess they’re in love now.
The third girl with hoop ponytails who seems to be the oldest and most responsible disapproves of this. Since she’s the only left, I guess she gets Ling. Wait, her name is Ting-Ting?……They’re going to be Ling and Ting-Ting?……..Excuse me. I need to laugh for a few minutes.
*a few minutes later*
Ahh, that’s better. Ling seems to have a harder time with Ting-Ting since his romantic pick-up tactic is to jump out from behind a tree and bombard her with awful jokes like an obnoxious stand-up comedian. She actually runs from him, but it’s quite obvious that she’s trying her best not to burst out laughing the entire time, so they’re fine.
Mei, Yao’s girl, talks with Mulan about how she saved China by following her heart, which we know is really her asking about advice on whether she she should go through with this whole arranged marriage deal or not.
Shifting focus to Mushu, we see his brilliant ‘break up Mulan and Shang’ plan is just playing a bunch of stupid pranks on Shang. Yes, I’m so sure accidentally hooking his fishing line to his belt or being chased by bees will really make Mulan want to dump his hot army general ass.
Mushu’s plans all fail since Mulan’s not the type to get pissed at someone over their own misfortune.
Mushu laments in his failures and in a small temper tantrum accidentally causes the carriage that was holding the princesses to roll downhill. Mulan, Shang and the boys save them, but in the process they fall off a cliff and into a river. Everyone’s okay, and Mu-shit won’t even admit that it was his fault and uses the accident’s minor tensions to further his plans in breaking Mulan and Shang up.
I hate Mushu. He’s a pointless, annoying character who only had a few funny lines in the original. While he was just unneeded in the original, he’s incredibly annoying here.
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