|Year Released||1998||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||84:12 minutes||Other Extras||Film Recommendations|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||1.78:1||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||No||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||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||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
The Region 4 release misses out on:
An almost flawless video transfer.
A very, very good audio transfer.
Film recommendations do not an extras package make!
© Ian Morris (have a
laugh, check out the bio)
21st May 2000
|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|