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Details At A Glance

Category Family Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 84:12 minutes Other Extras Film Recommendations
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (52:23)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Barry Cook
Tony Bancroft
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Eddie Murphy
Ming-Na Wen
B.D. Wong
George Takei
Pat Morita
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $39.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith

Pan & Scan/Full Frame 1.78:1 MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Hebrew (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Dutch (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Greek (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    In some ways I suppose it is an endorsement of the success of DVD in Australia thus far that Disney have decided to grace our Region 4 shelves with a selection of its animated classics. Whatever one's personal point of view is regarding the merits or otherwise of the product turned out by Disney, there can be no doubt that the success of any format is dependent upon their collection of animated classics being available to purchase. And so it is we embark upon our reviews of the selection of six titles made available in the first batch: Pinocchio, Lady And The Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Little Mermaid, Hercules and Mulan. And I guess there is no more appropriate place to start than the most recent title in the batch, their 36th animated feature.

    Mulan is the Disneyised version of an ancient Chinese legend about a young woman determined to be something different. Fa Mulan (vocalized by Ming-Na Wen) is a young lady of marriageable age, who in the best Chinese tradition is supposed to go off and impress the matchmaker, so that she can find a good husband and bring honour to her family. But traditions are made to be broken and when her meeting with the matchmaker has ended, on a rather less than successful note, Mulan need something to overcome the dishonour she has brought to her family. That something comes in the form of the Hun invasion of China. Breaching The Great Wall of China, the Huns, lead by the ruthless Shan-Yu, force the Emperor of China to conscript a large army to repel the invasion. So, the call goes out to each household in the land to contribute one male member to the army. Since the Fa family only has a daughter, the honour of serving China falls to Mulan's ageing father, who has already served his country with honour. Mulan sees a chance to save her father from further service and to restore some honour to herself, so she disguises herself as a man and heads off to join the army. Her family, afraid for her safety, invoke the spirits of their ancestors to look over Mulan. So, in a very abbreviated chain of events, the most useless of ancestors in the form of Mushu (Eddie Murphy), a small dragon, is sent to help Mulan. Now being Disney, we can see where this is heading about five minutes ago, right? Mulan has a tough time initially and is kicked out for being useless, but determined to triumph she forces Captain Shang (B.D. Wong) to keep her in the army, which is fortunate of course as she just so happens to become his best trooper and eventually secures an important victory that may save the Emperor, all of which happens whilst falling in love with Shang. But of course, she is eventually discovered to be a woman and is thrown out of the army anyway, but she still has a task to undertake to save China, and really bring honour to her family.

    Now my knowledge of the legend is not very extensive, but this really does not bear too much of a resemblance to it by my recollection. Still, Disney have always managed to find a way to take an original story and turn it into something entertaining, and this is no different. In general, they certainly turn those stories into something special on-screen and this no exception. Whilst some will find Eddie Murphy/Mushu his usual annoying self, there is generally much to enjoy here.

Transfer Quality


    At some point of time, the perceived view that DVD is not kind to animation will be seen as laughable. If you want my view, this is the DVD to prove it to be hokum. This is a pearler of a video transfer.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp throughout and has a beautiful definition to it, and this is pretty well free from any real inherent faults in the animation - about the only thing I noted was a very slight jump in the animation at 12:24. The opening sequence of the film showing The Great Wall is as good a piece of detailed animation as I have yet seen on DVD, and my immediate reaction was "wow". The transfer is very clear and detail stands out very nicely as a result. The outlines of the characters are solid and black, which really helps the overall presentation enormously. The animation style at times takes in some of the style of Chinese water colour painting, which really is a nice change. There is no problem at all in the way the animation is presented and there are certainly no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours come up beautifully vibrant, and this really is a gorgeous looking piece of animation. There was no real hint of oversaturation at all, even during some sequences where it would have been excusable. Colour definition was pretty much spot on and I really did not see anything remotely looking like colour bleed.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were comprised of some very minor shimmer that was barely noticeable and certainly in no way detracted from the transfer at all. Film artefacts were virtually absent from the transfer - if there were any they certainly were in no way distracting to the film. Overall, this is a wonderful transfer and now goes to the top of the pile as far as animation goes. Clean, crisp and clear, there really is almost nothing to complain about here at all.

   This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 52:23. This is barely noticeable at all, and is not at all disruptive to the film.


   The wonderful video transfer is matched by an equally wonderful audio transfer.

   There are eight audio tracks on this DVD; the English, French and Italian audio tracks are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks whilst the Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Dutch and Greek audio tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded tracks. I listened to the English default soundtrack.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    The usual animation sync "problems" exist but who really cares about it?

    The musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, one of the very best in the business, is simply superb and does a magnificent job in supporting the film. Some nice intonations of Chinese music are included and this adds a nice distinctive feel to the film.

    This is a wonderful 5.1 soundtrack, and it boasts some lovely rear channel ambience that I enjoyed very much. The subtlety of some of the rear channel sounds is ear-catching: delicate, far-off thunder, for instance. The bass channel gives some nicely complementary support, without going too far over the top with bass resonance. I would suspect, however, that if you did crank this up, it would be an impressive sounding effort as the sound picture has a very natural feel to it, with a lot of space in the sound - there is nothing remotely approaching constriction here, and everything is as crisp and clear as a frosty winter's morning. Overall, this is a wonderful effort, with plenty of dynamic range present without forcing the sound at all.


    What is this - a Disney DVD with an extra?? Well, okay - it is not a real extra but it certainly is more than we have seen from most Disney releases. At this rate, by the time we get to their 100th animated feature, we may have convinced Disney of what an extra actually is, and that we like them to be on our DVDs.


    Well at least it has a little more to do with the film recommendations, but not that much more. Nicely themed, but that is about all that needs to be said.

Film Recommendations

    Interesting only for the fact that it includes The Jungle Book - does that mean we can expect it in Region 4 in the near future? Otherwise, the recommendations are for the other five releases in this batch, plus A Bug's Life.

R4 vs R1

    Okay, this has already had two releases in Region 1, the initial "Limited Issue" release that was supposed to be on sale for 60 days then placed on moratorium for 10 years, and then a "Gold Collection" release that was issued almost immediately the "Limited Issue" went off sale! Of course, those of us who went out and bought the "Limited Issue" release are somewhat narked by the fact that the "Gold Collection" came out so quickly, and at a lower price! As far as I am able to determine, the two releases are identical in content.

    The Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 release misses out on:     Ordinarily the 16x9 enhancement would sway the decision in favour of the Region 4 release but.... Having made a brief comparison between the Region 1 and Region 4 versions, I have to say that there is not an awful lot of difference between the quality of the two video transfers (the audio transfers are pretty much on a par). Whilst the Region 4 is slightly better resolution-wise, it is certainly not hugely better than the Region 1. Accordingly, I would have to say that whilst I prefer the 16x9 enhancement over the trailer and the music videos, your decision may well be different. Either way, I doubt that you will be disappointed.


    The first time I watched this film, it struck an immediate chord with me and I enjoyed it enormously. This is a damn fine piece of animation presented on a virtually flawless DVD. If the extras had been included on the Region 4 release it would have been a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. As it is, you certainly will not be disappointed by this release - except for the $39.95 asking price.

    An almost flawless video transfer.

    A very, very good audio transfer.

    Film recommendations do not an extras package make!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
21st May 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL