Mulan: Special Edition (1998)

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Released 10-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Directors And Producer
Deleted Scenes
Song Lyrics-Sing-Along Songs (2)
Music Video-'I'll Make A Man Out Of You' By Jackie Chan(Mandarin/Canton)
Music Video-'Reflection' By Christina Aguilera
Music Video-'True To Your Heart' By Stevie Wonder & 98°
Game-DisneyPedia: Mulan's World
Featurette-Mulan's Fun Facts
Music Video-'Reflection' Peformed In Mandarin By CoCo Lee
Music Video-'Reflection' Performed In Spanish By Lucero
Music Video-'True To Your Heart' Performed In Spanish By Christian
Featurette-The Journey Begins
Featurette-Story Artists' Journey
Featurette-Design
Featurette-Production
Featurette-Music
Featurette-International Mulan
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 84:17
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:43)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tony Bancroft
Barry Cook
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Ming-Na
B.D. Wong
Soon-Tek Oh
Eddie Murphy
Harvey Fierstein
Gedde Watanabe
Miguel Ferrer
James Hong
Pat Morita
June Foray
James Shigeta
Lea Salonga
Freda Foh Shen
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith
Vanessa Mae
Matthew Wilder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Bulgarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Greek
Bulgarian
Arabic
Greek Audio Commentary
Bulgarian Audio Commentary
Arabic Audio Commentary
Bulgarian Titling
Arabic Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I have reviewed a number of animated features recently including the new version of Ice Age and Aladdin, so it was interesting to see a film which was released between those two and really falls into a group of films produced by Disney when their animation department went off the boil a bit before the addition of Pixar brought new life to the genre. Having said that, Mulan is certainly not a bad animated film - it is just not up to the standard of earlier ones like Aladdin or later ones like Ice Age or Toy Story. To my mind the differences that make this so are twofold - this film offers less to an adult audience than any of those mentioned above and also the songs are just not as good as those in Aladdin or The Lion King. The first song, for instance, sounds like it was stolen from a long lost Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. For the record, I had not seen this film before reviewing this disc.

    Mulan has been previously released in Region 4 as a bare bones release by Warner Home Video in 2000. The review of that version can be found here. This new version is very different and is being released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment who currently distribute Disney films here in Region 4. Here is a short guide to the major differences:

    The new version has the following new features:

    Mulan tells the story of a young girl growing up in ancient China. She is the only child of a war hero, Fa Zhou, and her father wants her to uphold the family honour by making a good marriage match. This means she needs to impress the matchmaker. Unfortunately, things do not go well and to add to her misery her father is called up to fight for the Emperor. Because of a bad wound when he fought previously, he is now crippled but bravely accepts his conscription anyway. Mulan decides to run away and join the army in her father's place, taking his horse, armour and sword. She poses as a man and despite some difficulties she becomes an accepted member of the army, under her commanding office Captain Shang (voiced by B D Wong who some of you may know from Law & Order). Her father prays to his ancestors for their assistance and they decide to send someone to help her. Unfortunately, instead of the hero they plan to send, a small Dragon, Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy), goes instead. He of course becomes the comic sidekick along with a lucky cricket called Cri-Kee and together they set off to save China from the invading Huns, led by the evil Shan-Yu.

    The things which stood out as positives for me were Mushu, who really added life to the film after a slightly slow start, and the lovely opening credit sequence which utilises Chinese calligraphy and art.

    This film will not suit the youngest children as there are some dark scenes and also some fighting (although no one actually dies on-screen of course). It would probably best suit an audience in the 5 to 10 age bracket. So, a very good animated adventure without being in the top echelon of recent animated films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good but not quite as sharp as other more recent animated films. Based upon the previous review, this is a different video transfer as the layer change occurs much later at 61:43. The file size of this one is 4093648 Kb. Indications are that the new Special Edition version has significantly better colour than the old version, although I do not have the old one for direct comparison.

    The feature is presented in a 1.70:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is very close to the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was excellent. I did not think it was as sharp as other animated films I have seen such as Aladdin.

    The colour was wonderful, rich and solid throughout. This is good as colour is an important ingredient in the film.

    The only noticeable artefact was aliasing which was quite regular but generally mild in nature. Examples include the Great Wall at 1:08 and a belt at 12:03.

    There are subtitles in 5 languages including English & English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 61:43 and was not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good and quite subtle.

    This DVD contains five audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, Greek & Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks encoded at 384 Kb/s and a Bulgarian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Jerry Goldsmith is excellent, adding humour, tension and excitement as required. To my mind, the songs are not as strong as other Disney animated films.

    The surround speakers added some mild directional effects and atmosphere. This is not an overly dynamic soundtrack but by the same token the surrounds add some subtle and worthwhile sounds such as thunder at 17:15. Generally, a very nice effort.

     The subwoofer was nicely integrated and added bass as required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are copious extras spread over two discs. To my mind some of the extras are very good while others are completely superfluous, especially the incredible array of foreign language music videos.

Menu

    The menu included an intro, music, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Disc 1

Deleted Scenes

    These are presented mostly as storyboards with audio, as they were not fully animated. They are really more abandoned ideas for scenes and alternate versions rather than deleted scenes removed from the completed film. Despite this they are quite interesting. They include introductions by one of the directors, Tony Bancroft, and are presented non 16x9 enhanced and with 2.0 surround audio. The scenes included are:

Music & More

    This section includes a number of karaoke style singalongs and music videos. Presented non 16x9 enhanced. Included are:

DisneyPedia : Mulan's World (7:19)

    This section includes an animated menu and is hosted by Mushu. It is designed for children and features a variety of information about Ancient China. Sections can be chosen individually or all can be played. Each section includes some animation and a voiceover by Mushu. Topics covered include dragons, good luck charms, the real legend of Mulan, ancestors, honour, the Chinese calendar, the Emperor, the Huns, the Great Wall, fireworks, paper and The Art of War. Good stuff, interesting info but kept to a level kids can understand and presented in an amusing way.

Commentary - Producer - Pam Coats, Director - Tony Bancroft and Director - Barry Cook

    This is generally a pretty good commentary with some worthwhile information included. They do spend a bit of time patting themselves and everyone else on the back but no more than you expect from a major studio commentary. Technically, something very useful has been done which is to keep each person commentating in a different speaker so it is easy to tell who is talking at a specific time. Pam is in the centre speaker, Tony in the right and Barry in the left. Discussion covers the opening sequence debate, animation, the balancing act between drama, action & comedy, the research they did, trivia, the voice talent, the story and characters and the development process. Worth a listen.

Mulan's Fun Facts (2:13)

    A short set of behind-the-scenes footage with music and pop-up trivia. Nothing to get excited about.

Disc 2

Music & More

    A fairly pointless collection of foreign language music videos unless you speak the languages involved. Interestingly they are not the languages which are available on the main feature. Included are:

Backstage Disney

    This large section about the making of the film includes many sub-section and featurettes as follows. Most of them include interviews with the Producer, Director and various other crew members. Overall, these are fairly comprehensive although something about the voice talent used in the English version would have been interesting. Each section can be played as one group or separately.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie has recently been re-released in Region 1 in a very similar format. The differences are quite minor and are as follows:

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis you may as well call it a draw.

Summary

    An enjoyable animated film from the Disney stable which does not scale the heights of animated films they released either before or after.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a large collection of extras, some of good quality, others which are a waste of time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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