September 2, 2020
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the NC title sequence)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. Well, with the first Disney live-action remake coming out that people are actually saying...
(The poster for the 2020 live-action remake of Mulan is shown, before we cut to a clip from Young Frankenstein)
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: IT...COULD...WORK!!
NC: ...it only makes sense to look back at, in my opinion, one of the most interesting animated Disney films, Mulan.
(The title of the movie is shown, before showing its clips. "The Way of Tao" - also called "Song of Mandarin" - by Stephen Thomas Bashaw plays in the background)
NC (vo): I say interesting not because I think the film is particularly fascinating, but because of the following it's acquired. Released in 1998, I was still in high school when this film came out, and the reaction people my age or older had was an astounding... (An image of a man shrugging is shown) "It was okay". It was no Lion King, but the characters were decent, the songs were hummable, it's a totally serviceable flick. But the reactions from kids were quite different. Children loved this movie, and more importantly, it stayed with them, to a point where now those children are grown up, they're showing it to their kids, and they're having the exact same reaction. This has resulted in memes, fan art, merchandise...don't even get me started on this shit...
(We are shown a brief clip of Rick & Morty, before we are briefly shown real-life footage of people at McDonalds demanding the Szechuan sauce)
People: We want sauce! We want sauce!
NC (vo): ...and, once again, a very hyped up remake. The closest Disney comparison I could think of for this would be A Goofy Movie. It's nothing epic, but it struck a chord, spoke a language that connected with a generation that loves to quote the lines and celebrate the film. Mulan has an even bigger advantage as it was a bigger hit than A Goofy Movie. Not Frozen-levels, per se, but it turned in a decent payday. So why has this film grown such a unique and large fanbase over the years, and why is it still going strong? What did people like me who saw the film as passable but nothing special miss that younger crowds gravitated towards?
NC: Well, let's get down to business and take a look at Mulan. (Beat) Admit it, you're humming that song in your head right now.
(The film begins by showing the Huns, led by the villainous Shan Yu, invading China by breaching the Great Wall. News of this attack soon reaches the Emperor of China, who orders General Li to send his best troops to protect China from the new threat)
NC (vo): The film opens with an attack on the Great Wall by the Huns, and the Emperor of China, played by Pat Morita, says they must recruit more soldiers to defeat them.
Emperor: A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man...
(A clip from Monty Python's Life of Brian is shown)
Monk #1: Or woman.
Monk #2: Or woman.
(Back to the movie)
Emperor: ...may be the difference between victory and defeat.
(We are first introduced to Fa Mulan, who is getting ready for her big day of impressing the Matchmaker and bringing honor to her family)
NC (vo): This brings us to Mulan, voiced by Ming-Na Wen, making cheat notes to impressing the matchmaker.
Fa Zhou: We are counting on you to...
Mulan: Uphold the family honor. Don't worry, Father. I won't let you down. (Hides her Chinese notes written on her arm by pulling her sleeve down)
NC: (as Mulan) Oh, if only I knew Chinese instead of English.
(At town, we see Mulan's mother, Fa Li, and her grandmother, Grandmother Fa, waiting for Mulan's arrival)
NC (vo): Meanwhile, Mulan's mother and grandmother...wait. Both parents are alive in this Disney film?
NC: (gasps) Make a wish! (Closes his eyes, and an image of a man playing a piano appears with an explosion) My 10-inch pianist! My wish came true!
(Upon arriving, Mulan is immediately prepared by her mother, grandmother, and other women to be ready for her meeting with the Matchmaker. All of this is shown through the song, "Honor to Us All")
NC (vo): ...try to help Mulan out by getting her dressed up and even giving her a lucky cricket. This leads to the song, "You'll Bring Honor to Us All".
(At one point in the song, while walking through the town, Mulan notices two men playing checkers and makes a winning move, much to one player's delight, but to the other player's chagrin)
Women: (singing) By striking a good match, and this could be the day.
NC: (as the winning player) Hey-hey, very nice. Execute her for touching a man's things. (The sounds of a sword swishing and a woman screaming are heard)
Woman: (singing while giving Mulan a bath) Trust my recipe for instant bride.
NC (vo): The song is a catchy tune, cleverly pointing out the ironies of enforcing gender roles...ironically used in ads enforcing gender roles.
(A commercial for a Mulan dress-up and makeup doll is shown with the song playing in the background)
Girl #1: Mulan's meeting the matchmaker!
Girl #2: Everything must be perfect.
NC: (mimics a girl while pointing at a Mulan doll in front of him) But isn't this what she doesn't want to be in the movie?
Girl (voiced by NC; off-screen): I SAID MAKE HER PERFECT!!
(After the song, the Matchmaker comes out of her home to call Mulan)
Matchmaker: Fa Mulan.
NC: Damn, I thought only Eddie Murphy would be using that language...
Mulan: (puts her hand up) Present!
NC (vo): Oh. I really am too old for some of this.
Matchmaker: You must demonstrate a sense of dignity.
(However, due to a combination of the antics of Mulan's lucky cricket named Cri-Kee and her own nervous behavior, Mulan's meeting with the Matchmaker soon turns to chaos and ends up with the Matchmaker being set on fire)
NC (vo): As you'd imagine, clumsy, 90s rom-com Mulan accidentally messes things up, resulting in some wacky slapstick. It's pretty standard, though I will admit, this did get a laugh.
(Mulan attempts to put the fire out by using her waving fan, but it only increases the fire and causes the screaming Matchmaker to flip over a table, breaking it to pieces)
NC: (as Mulan) Damn it! I picked the extra-flammable fan!
(After the fire is eventually put out, an angry Matchmaker, with her makeup ruined, yells at Mulan)
Matchmaker: You may look like a bride, but you will never bring your family honor!
NC: Why is it when that makeup is supposed to look funny on her, it looks scary? But when it's supposed to look scary on Ronan, it looks funny? (An image of Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel is shown along a shot of the angry Matchmaker)
(Mulan heads back home, completely disheartened over her failure to bring honor to her family)
NC (vo): Mulan goes home, disgraced, and sings "Reflection", sung by Lea Salonga.
Mulan: (singing) Can it be I'm not meant to play this part?
NC (vo): I'll admit, I was shocked to rediscover how surprisingly short this song is. (Images of emotional song sequences from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Pocahontas are shown) Where most emotional Disney ballads usually run between two-and-a-half-to-three minutes, "Reflection" is only a minute-and-a-half long. That's not a ton of time to get an emotional impact.
NC: But even with that said, the song might actually be more poignant now than it was before.
NC (vo): See, back then, a lot of people saw this as just another "wanting more" song, which had become a little stock by that point. (Images of song sequences from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are shown) But when you really take in the lyrics of your reflection not representing who you are, and the increased awareness in identity around gender, sexuality and online personas, it surprisingly grows in relevance. I get the feeling this song might actually make a stronger connection now with some people than it did when it first came out.
NC: In fact, I do have to admit, a lot of these songs are better than I remember them.
NC (vo): I think I was always comparing them to knockouts like "Part of Your World" and "Belle", but these really do hold their own years later. I was impressed how much I like them looking back.
(As Mulan sits on a bench, Fa Zhou comes over to comfort her)
Fa Zhou: (smiling) My, my. What beautiful blossoms we have this year.
NC (vo): Her father gives a nice talk about, well, they're surrounded by flowers, so, of course, late bloomers.
Fa Zhou: This one's late. But I'll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all. (Places a blossom on Mulan's hair, causing her to smile)
NC: (as Fa Zhou) And it might pretend to have a penis. That's very important.
(Chi-Fu, the Emperor's counselor, suddenly arrives on horseback to deliver the news to the town about the Huns invading China, giving the order that one man from every family must serve in the Imperial Army. Fa Zhou, the only man of the Fa family, offers to join the army despite his frail health, much to Mulan's shock)
NC (vo): They're given the news that a male from every household must serve in the army to defeat the Huns. Naturally, Mulan's father is too old to serve, but it's not looking like they have any other choice.
(That night, during dinner, Mulan confronts Fa Zhou over his decision)
Mulan: You'll die for honor?
Fa Zhou: I will die doing what's right.
Mulan: But if you...
Fa Zhou: I know my place! It is time you learned yours.
NC: (as Fa Zhou) As well as what it's worth. (An image of a news report of the film's live-action remake premiering on Disney+ on premier access is shown) $30 is pretty steep, man.
(In the middle of the night, while the family sleeps, Mulan makes the ultimate choice. She disguises herself as a man, takes her father's armor, and leaves home on her horse, Khan, to join the army in her father's place)
NC (vo): Mulan says, "Screw this no girls tree house shit", and disguises herself as a boy to join the army in her father's place.
(Soon after Mulan has left, the Fa family discovers what Mulan has done)
Fa Li: She could be killed!
Fa Zhou: If I reveal her...she will be.
NC: (as Fa Zhou) They will murder her if they discover...she's not technically a Disney Princess.
Quiet voice (Doug): Shh! Don't say that so loud!
(In the early morning, the ghosts of the Fa family's ancestors, led by the First Ancestor, wake up to debate about Mulan's decision. At the same time, a dragon named Mushu, a disgraced former guardian now working as a gong-ringer, also wakes up as well)
NC (vo): Mulan's ancestors, led by the voice of George Takei, have a meeting to discuss what is to be done, which, of course, leads to the introduction of our comic relief, Mushu, played by Eddie Murphy.
Mushu: Anybody who's foolish enough to threaten our family, vengeance will be MINE! (Makes growling noises)
NC: So...from what I can gather, people are kind of split on this character.
(Clips focusing on Mushu are shown)
NC (vo): I don't know anyone who hates him like Jar Jar, but I don't know anyone who loves him like Genie either. He seems remarkably out of place. But to the film's credit, I think that's part of the comedy. He's animated well, I want to laugh at him, I just don't think he's given a ton of funny things to say.
Mushu: Watch this here! (Spits out a tiny breath of fire) Aa-ha! Jump back, I'm pretty hot, huh? Don't make me have to singe nobody to prove no point.
(Footage of Donkey from Shrek 2 is shown)
NC (vo): In something like Shrek, he can get a little bit more risque, which I think plays more to Murphy's strengths.
Donkey: I say we take the sword and neuter him right here, give him the Bob Barker treatment!
(Back to clips of Mushu)
NC (vo): This, I see as Donkey Lite. (An image of a Lite can with a Photoshopped image of Donkey is shown) It's familiar enough, but, Jesus, I miss the stuff that's bad for you. But to be fair, he does get a chuckle here and there, though. Like, I have to admit, I never really thought about the fact that he's responsible for a man's death.
Old Woman Ancestor: (to Mushu) Your misguidance led Fa Deng to disaster!
(Fa Deng's ghost is shown literally holding his decapitated head)
Fa Deng: Yeah. Thanks a lot.
NC: (as Fa Deng) Not even sure how that happened. I was cat-sitting!
(The ancestors order Mushu to awaken the Great Stone Dragon and send it to protect Mulan, but Mushu accidentally destroys it, and is forced to act as the Great Stone Dragon in front of the First Ancestor by holding its head in front of his face)
NC (vo): In fact, he's ordered to wake up another guardian to look after Mulan, but he accidentally destroys the statue and uses its decapitated head to fool the others, meaning that's two murders he's responsible for! Where do ghouls go when they die anyway? (An image of a ghost from The Haunted Mansion is shown)
(Cri-Kee, the cricket, approaches Mushu to try and convince him to protect Mulan himself, which soon gives Mushu an idea)
Mushu: I'll make Mulan a war hero and they'll be begging me to come back to work!
(Mushu then heads off to find Mulan, with Cri-Kee joining him after saying that he's "lucky". Meanwhile, Shan Yu and the Huns invade another town and capture two Imperial scouts, whom Shan Yu interrogates)
NC (vo): He and the cricket go after Mulan, and we're introduced to the leader of the Huns, Shan Yu, played by Miguel Ferrer.
Shan Yu: Nice work, gentlemen. You found the Hun Army.
NC: I know this is an unpopular opinion, but...this is one of the most boring Disney Villains to me.
(As Shan Yu's scene of interrogating the scouts plays out, we are also shown other clips of Shan Yu)
NC (vo): He looks cool, and he's voiced by a good actor. (An image of Jafar, Captain Hook, Cruella De Vil, and Ursula sitting together at a table is shown) But for a studio that brought us some of the greatest villains of all time, he does and says the most generic bad guy stuff.
Shan Yu: By building his wall, he challenged my strength. Well, I'm here to play his game. I'm ready.
NC (vo): Game, strength, challenge, ready. All his lines sound like evil Nike posters. (A Nike poster containing a slogan of the four words NC said is shown, with the Nike logo being replaced with the word "Evil". Images of Judge Claude Frollo, Lady Tremaine, Maleficent, and Jafar are also shown) I think of the manipulation, the backstabbing, the diabolical plans that made me hate the other baddies with such delight. All he does is say, "Kill people", and his army kills people.
Shan Yu: (to the scouts, who are about to run away) Tell your Emperor to send his strongest armies.
NC (vo): Part of that might be, he's not onscreen very long. Had they shown him, say, planning his strategy, or explaining why he's fighting, or showing more of his abusive power over his prisoners or, hell, even his soldiers, I'd totally be onboard. But all of that, I guess, is done offscreen. There's a scene where he finds a doll and says he'd best return it to its owner, and then later, you see a village burned down. That's like Frollo saying, "Find the gypsy girl", and then you just cut to Paris on fire. It's not nearly the same. Yeah, he does bad stuff, I mean, that's a whole village of families burned to the ground, but it's like a documentary on a serial killer saying what he did, not how or why he did it. Oh, wait, right. He was enticed. Guess that's all we need.
Scout: The Emperor will stop you.
Shan Yu: He invited me.
NC (vo): If you like this dude, cool. But he doesn't do anything for me. I think the only intimidating moment I got out of him was this scene.
(After Shan Yu orders the scouts to run away back to the Emperor, he suddenly asks a question to a Hun archer)
Shan Yu: How many men does it take to deliver a message?
Archer: (preparing to fire an arrow) One.
(The film immediately cuts to black before we can see what likely happened. The sound of arrows flying is suddenly heard)
NC (vo; as a scout): You missed! (Another arrow fires) Missed again! (Another arrow fires) There you go. (A thump is heard)
(Meanwhile, Mulan, in her disguise as a man, attempts to practice acting like a man)
NC (vo): Meanwhile, Mulan practices acting like a dude.
Mulan: (speaking in a deep voice) I see you have a sword. I have one, too. They're very manly and tough. (Attempts to pull out her sword, but accidentally drops it)
NC: I'd laugh, but I've heard LARPers say that word-for-word. (An image of LARP cosplayers is shown)
(Mushu suddenly appears in front of Mulan, claiming to have been sent by her ancestors to help her on her goal)
NC (vo): Mushu approaches and lets her know he's there to help her out.
Mulan: My ancestors sent a little lizard to help me?
Mushu: Dragon, not lizard. I don't do that tongue thing. (Mimics a lizard sticking out its tongue)
NC: Hey, don't rule that out, man. (An image of Dragon from Shrek is shown) A lot of lady dragons like that stuff. (After a beat, an image of Donkey is shown as well) Is he their son?!
Mushu: If I was my real size, your cow here would die of fright. For instance, my eyes can see straight through your armor. (Mulan immediately slaps Mushu) Ow!
(Footage of a commercial from the movie is shown in front of the shot of Mulan slapping Mushu)
Announcer: Rated G.
Mushu: (after getting slapped) Dishonor on your whole family! Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow, dis...
NC: (as Mushu) But there's so much merchandise to be utilized from this. (Images of various merchandise all containing Mushu and his "dishonor" line are shown)
(We go to a commercial. When we return, we several scenes of Mulan arriving at the army's training camp in her disguise as "Ping", but due to some clumsy guidance from Mushu, she proves to be a complete oddball among the army, especially among three soldiers, Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po, and the army's new captain, Li Shang)
NC (vo): It's strange that this film decided to go with one prominent character for the comic relief, as when Mulan walks in to join the army, the laughs happen quite naturally. This is a pretty funny army. There's a short, anger-prone dude, played by Harvey Fierstein, a lanky show-off, played by Gedde Watanabe, and a calm giant, played by Jerry Tondo. They all get a fair amount of laughs. Even Murphy sneaks in a good chuckle.
(At one point, Mulan accidentally gets into a conflict with Yao, but he calms down with Chien-Po's help and attempts to leave)
Yao: Ah, you ain't worth my time, chicken boy.
(Mulan prepares to leave, until an angry Mushu pops out of the back of her shirt)
Mushu: Chicken-boy?! Say that to my face, you limp noodle!
(An image of a radar satellite appears next to NC, as a shot of Mushu saying that line passes by him)
NC: Let's see...nope. Went right under the radar.
(Captain Li Shang, as well as Chi-Fu, confront Mulan, who continues her attempt at acting like a man)
NC (vo): Mulan trying to fit in as a boy is also pretty entertaining.
Chi-Fu: (upon reading Fa Zhou's conscription notice Mulan was carrying) I didn't know Fa Zhou had a son.
Mulan: (speaking in a deep voice) He doesn't talk about me much. (Attempts to spit, but her drool comes out of her mouth slowly)
Chi-Fu: I can see why.
NC: (laughs) This is good comedic writing!
(Several footage of the film's first scenes are shown, then we are shown more scenes of the comedic moments of Mulan arriving at the training camp, before cutting to the song sequence, "I'll Make a Man Out of You", which showcases Mulan and her fellow soldiers' difficult attempts to become trained soldiers under the guidance of Shang)
NC (vo): The first third of the movie has a hint of a rushed feel to it, with the story, characters, and even length of the songs hitting sort of the bare minimum requirements for a film like this. But I'm starting to think that was done just to reach this part of the movie. Not only is Mulan training and just interacting with the army throughout the majority of the film, but it feels like the movie suddenly turns on when she does. The energy is high, the comedy is tight, the slapstick is well-timed, and Donny Osmond sings a song. (Beat) I can't believe I'm saying that as a positive either.
Captain Li Shang: (singing) Let's get down to business to defeat the Huns.
NC: This...is, hands-down, the breakout song of the movie.
(An image of several YouTube videos showing the film's songs is shown)
NC (vo): Where the others get decent hits on YouTube for a Disney musical, averaging 20 mill or so, "Make a Man" is currently at 122 million. Honestly, I can't say I'm surprised, it's just a fun song. It's catchy as hell, it's orchestrated nice, and it's a training montage, man. You could throw some Rocky clips in there and nobody would have a problem.
(One of the final moments in the song, showing Mulan passing the most difficult challenge of climbing up a pole to retrieve an arrow, is shown along clips of Rocky Balboa training)
Shang and chorus: (singing) We must be swift as a coursing river. (Be a man) With all the force of a great typhoon. (Be a man)
(Several clips of Mulan making the choice to leave her family and take her father's place are shown again, before resuming showing the song sequence)
NC (vo): I like, too, that Mulan isn't naturally a fighter. Nothing about her background or environment would indicate that she would be. In fact, if anything, it makes her risk and sacrifice all the more meaningful. She's going into a fight, not knowing how to fight. She has to learn like everyone else, which allows growth for the character, as well as growth for the army. And once again, it leads to some great laughs.
(At one point, while trying to beat a challenge involving firing arrows on a red fruit, Mulan attempts to cheat by placing a fruit on the front of her arrow, but Shang quickly catches her in the act, causing Mulan to grin nervously)
NC: The face that launched a million profile icons.
(The final moment of the song is played, showing Mulan and the soldiers training along with brief shots of them succeeding in their challenges)
Shang and chorus: (singing) Mysterious as the dark side of the moon!
(We then cut to a clip of Rocky IV, showing Rocky reaching the summit)
(One night, Mulan, no longer in disguise, attempts to bathe in a lake, just as Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po also arrive to swim in the lake as well, much to Mushu's horror)
NC (vo): In another very funny scene, Mulan tries bathing in a lake, when, of course, some of the other soldiers get the same idea, leading to probably my favorite line in the entire film.
Mushu: There are a couple of things I KNOW they're bound to notice!
NC: (as Mushu) I know it's a kids' film, so I won't say what it is, but it rhymes with noobies!
(Mulan struggles to hide her identity as Ling, Chien-Po, and Yao attempt to formally start over and be friends with "Ping". Yao is shown standing out of the lake on a rock)
Yao: And I am Yao, king of the rock!
NC: (as Yao) And that's just what he's called!
(Mushu bites Ling on the rear, causing the trio to become scared and retreat on a rock, thus allowing Mulan to escape without being seen. As she resumes being in disguise, she overhears an argument going on between Shang and Chi-Fu, who doesn't want Shang's troops to join the fight despite completing their training)
NC (vo): Mushu bites one of them to get Mulan away, and she overhears Captain Shang, voiced by BD Wong, being chewed out by the Emperor's advisor, voiced by James Hong.
(After the argument, Shang walks away while Mulan attempts to say encouraging words to him)
Mulan: (deep voice) For what it's worth, I think you're a great captain.
Zapp Brannigan: (dubbed over Shang) That young man fills me with hope...and some other emotions that are weird and deeply confusing me.
(Desiring to see Mulan succeed and become a hero, Mushu and Cri-Kee create a fake order from Shang's father, General Li, ordering Shang to follow the main imperial army into the mountains. They give the message to Chi-Fu while in disguise as a messenger on a panda. The next day, the army heads out on a long journey to battle)
NC (vo): Mushu dresses up as a messenger...which I'm honestly shocked hasn't become a parade character at Disney... (An image of a Disney parade with a Photoshopped image of Mushu's messenger disguise is shown) ...giving orders for the army to head out. This leads to the final song of the film, and probably the weakest, "Girl Worth Fighting For".
Ling: (singing, done by Matthew Wilder, the film's composer, instead of Gedde Watanabe) Hey, think of instead, a girl worth fighting for.
NC (vo): It's not bad, I guess, it's just between the over-the-top instrumentals and comedic singing, it can get a tad grating.
Ling: (singing) My manly ways and turn of phrase are sure to thrill her.
NC: Best choice of singer since Return of Jafar said, "Let's not give Gilbert Gottfried one, but two songs."
(At one point, the army passes by a garden filled with women. Mushu become enamored by the women and does a wolf whistle)
Soldiers: (singing) You can guess what we have missed the most since we went off to war.
NC (vo; in a deep voice, as a caption of what he says is shown): #GirlPower.
(The women notice Mulan in her man disguise. Mulan quickly covers her face and walks away as the women giggle)
Soldiers: (singing) A girl worth fighting for.
NC: (as Woman #1) That's totally a chick, right? (as Woman #2) Yeah, but it's cool. One of our pickers is actually a dude. (As a picker, off-screen) Aw! How long did you know?!
Soldiers: (singing) A girl worth fighting...
(The song suddenly comes to an abrupt stop when the army discovers they have arrived at a village that has been completely burned down)
NC (vo; as the soldiers): Huh. For soldiers, it sure took us a while to notice that. Maybe we shouldn't sing any more horny songs.
Shang: My father should have been here.
(Shang goes over to where Chi-Fu is standing at: millions of bodies of killed soldiers lying on the ground. Chien-Po gives Shang his father's helmet, confirming he didn't survive the attack as well. After taking a moment to grieve, Shang regains his composure and orders his troops to continue on through the Tung Shao Pass)
NC (vo): They come across a burned village as well as a burned army, with the dead general being Shang's father. Despite the pain, he decides to move the army forward to try and stop the Huns, when...this occurs.
(Mulan and her horse Khan are carrying a carriage full of cannons, until one cannon unexpectedly fires and explodes into the sky. A stunned Mushu can do nothing but point the finger at Cri-Kee, then Shang angrily approaches Mulan)
Shang: What happened?
Shang: You just gave away our position!
NC: No, that's a good question. What did happen?!
(Due to the explosion, several Huns appear and attack the army, as they all struggle for cover and save the cannons from the now-burning carriage)
NC (vo): Did it go off on its own? Did Mushu trigger it? This leads to a big action sequence, and it's never made clear what sets it off. It doesn't ruin too much, I guess. It's just odd that it's never clarified. I mean, is Mushu now responsible for two beheadings and an army's demise? He's almost as evil as he was in Mulan II!
(A large army of Huns, with Shan Yu in the forefront, charge down a mountain to attack the army, until Mulan takes the last cannon, points it straight at a mountain, and fires the cannon at it, causing a large avalanche to bury the Hun army, Shan Yu along with them)
NC (vo): Mulan gets an idea to cause an avalanche with one of the cannons, wiping out the majority of Shan Yu's army. And for a film that visually plays it rather safe, these are some pretty cool shots.
(The avalanche barrels through a cliff as the troops take cover under a rock)
NC: That's some Disney "Frying the Coke" logic there.
(Mushu is riding on a shield through the raging snow, trying to find Mulan)
Mushu: Mulan! (Sees a small black hair) Mulan? (Grabs it, but ends up pulling up a screaming Hun. Mushu immediately pushes him back under the snow and faces the camera) Nope.
NC: (snickers) All right. He does get the laughs when it counts. (Beat) Also, what's his death toll up to now? (The past moments of the reveal of Mushu's cause of the death of Fa Deng, Mushu impersonating the Great Stone Dragon, and Mushu putting a screaming Hun back into the raging snow are all shown briefly)
(After the avalanche is gone, Shang and the troops praise Mulan for "his" effort in defeating the Huns, but Mulan suddenly recoils in pain from a wound she received earlier when Shan Yu slashed her in the chest, and is given some medical treatment. However, during that time, Mulan's true identity is revealed to Shang)
NC (vo): Mulan saves the day, but a battle wound causes her to pass out. The doctor takes a little too good a look.
(A stunned Shang comes into the tent to see Mulan in bed, her bandaged body confirming her identity as a woman)
NC: (as Shang) I never thought I'd see the day when I was disappointed to see breasts.
(An angry Chi-Fu exposes Mulan's identity to the rest of the troops and orders Shang to execute her, as it is the law. But Shang instead chooses not to kill her, since she saved his life earlier. Nevertheless, he and the troops leave for the Imperial City, leaving Mulan all alone)
NC (vo): The law requires Shang to kill her, but he lets her live for...you know, saving, like, a bajillion lives. Fair trade?
Mulan: I should never have left home.
NC (vo): I usually hate these third act "moping" scenes where people take something the wrong way, and you know the hero's gonna win them over. You just have to slump through it. But Murphy's pretty good at being affectionate here, while also working in a giggle or two.
(After Mushu confesses to Mulan of his real intention of helping Mulan and that he was not sent by her ancestors, a sad Cri-Kee also confesses that he isn't "lucky")
Mushu: (shocked) What?! What do you mean you're not lucky?! (to Khan) And what are you, a sheep?!
NC (vo; as Mushu): Next, you'll be telling me that half the actors in this aren't even Asian, or that the cast of Aladdin aren't Arabian. (A caption pops up that says...) Cancel Disney!
NC: (snickers and speaks normally) Yeah, let me know how that goes.
(As Mulan and Mushu prepare to return home, they make the horrifying discovery that Shan Yu and five other Huns have survived the avalanche, and are heading to the Imperial City, where a large celebration is taking place)
NC (vo): Of course, Shan Yu is still alive, and he gathers what's left of his men to capture the Emperor during a celebration.
(Mulan arrives at the city and tries to reveal to Shang of her discovery, to no avail)
Mulan: The Huns are alive. They're in the city.
Shang: You don't belong here, Mulan. Go home.
NC (vo; as Mulan): One day, I'm gonna marry that man.
Mulan: (approaches a man) Please, you have to help... (The man turns away)
(As Shang and his troops present Shan Yu's sword to the Emperor, Shan Yu and the Huns reveal their presence and attack, capturing the Emperor and holding him hostage in his palace)
NC (vo): They don't listen to her, ending up with the Emperor being kidnapped. The logical solution...or...a solution?
(Mulan convinces Yao, Ling and Chien-Po to join her, and as part of her plan, they disguise themselves as females, complete with dresses, fans and makeup. Shang soon joins the four as they sneak into the palace, but in his regular uniform)
NC (vo; as Shang): Got an extra dress for me?
(Using their disguises, Mulan, Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po easily sneak into the palace where the Huns are guarding the door to the Emperor's room)
NC (vo): Yeah, so, I get the idea. They're switching it up, too, like Mulan did, and it's cute, but...
NC: I think this is when it hits you, you've been watching a comedy the whole time.
(Several moments of the climax play out as NC speaks, including Yao, Ling and Chien-Po being able to distract the Huns and beat them down, allowing Shang to head up to the Emperor's room and fight Shan Yu, who was about to kill the Emperor for refusing to bow down to him. The troops get the Emperor to safety, but Mulan ends up being confronted by Shan Yu, who recognizes her as the "soldier from the mountains". As Shan Yu pursues Mulan to the roof and they fight in single combat, Mushu arrives at a fireworks tower, scares off the men working their, grabs a large rocket and launches it. The rocket hits Shan Yu, causing him to fly straight into a fireworks tower, and he dies in the resulting explosion)
NC (vo): It's a comedy with serious moments, but it's a comedy. I would've liked a more serious climax with the battle of China. You think of Aladdin battling a magic snake, Ariel battling a giant sea witch, Simba battling his uncle. This is a big dude battling a teenager while some guys make kissy faces in drag. Also, a firework is what kills the villain off, after an impression of Batman or Rambo or...I don't even know.
(The moment of Mushu scaring the fireworks men is shown)
Man: Who are you?!
Mushu: (dressed almost like a bat and speaking in a menacing tone) Your worst nightmare.
NC: it's...fine, I guess. I mean, those other climaxes had funny moments, too. But...did you think a movie advertised like this...
(Several clips of the film's teaser trailer are shown. Many clips are shown in the manner of a serious and epic film)
Emperor (vo): Endangered the lives of thousands of men...
(The film's poster is shown)
NC (vo): ...and a poster like this...
NC: ...was gonna end like this?
(The moment of Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po acting like females is shown)
Ling: (feminine voice) Oh, he's so cute!
(One Hun smiles and waves at the "females", but the other Hun elbows him to make him stop. We are shown the moment of Mulan and Shan Yu facing off on the roof)
NC (vo): Can't you at least give me one badass move?
(After Shan Yu taunts her that "It looks like you're out of ideas", he attempts to attack Mulan, but Mulan uses her fan to steal the sword off of Shan Yu's hand)
Mulan: Not quite.
NC: (nods) All right, that was pretty sweet.
(Mulan's efforts in defeating the Huns earns her admiration from Shang and the troops, but Chi-Fu remains ungrateful)
NC (vo): Mulan saves the day, but, you know, tits and all.
Shang: She's a hero.
Chi-Fu: 'Tis a woman! (Smiles) She'll never be worth anything.
NC (vo): Except, again, hopefully $30. (An image of a news report of the film's live-action remake premiering on Disney+ on premier access is shown again)
Emperor: (arriving to speak with Mulan) Enough.
NC (vo): The Emperor has some choice words, though.
Emperor: You stole your father's armor, impersonated a soldier, dishonored the Chinese army, destroyed my palace...
NC: But it was damn good flying.
Emperor: ...[and]...you have saved us all.
(The Emperor bows to Mulan, and so do Shang and the troops, as well as all of the citizens of China, all in honor. Mulan then asks the Emperor to return to her family instead of being his advisor, and the Emperor accepts, bestowing her his crest and Shan Yu's sword as gifts)
NC (vo): They all bow to her... (An image of Mulan with Photoshopped glasses is shown) ...before Return of the King made it cool...and she's celebrated as a hero. The Emperor even does her the favor of playing matchmaker for her.
Emperor: (to Shang) You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty.
NC (vo; as the Emperor): I'd tap that.
(Mulan returns home to her family and presents her gifts to Fa Zhou, who embraces her)
NC (vo): She returns home, and her father couldn't be more proud. But her grandma's upset she didn't bring home some ass.
Grandmother Fa: If you ask me, she should've brought home a man...
Shang: Excuse me. (Grandmother Fa and Fa Li turn around to see Shang standing behind them) Does Fa Mulan live here?
Grandmother Fa: (as Shang walks past her) Whoo! Sign me up for the next war!
NC (vo; as Grandmother Fa): I'd tap that!
Mulan: (approaching Shang) Would you like to stay for dinner?
(Meanwhile, the First Ancestor reluctantly allows Mushu to become an official guardian again, much to Mushu's joy, and he starts a celebration)
NC (vo): Mushu is allowed back as a guardian, and a pop song plays us out.
First Ancestor: (after a herd of chickens run into the ancestor room) Mushu!
(The film's credits roll, with the song "True to Your Heart" by 98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder playing in the background)
NC: Again, not exactly "Circle of Life" or "Part of Your World", but...maybe that's not exactly what this was meant to be.
(Clips from the film play out as NC gives his final thought. Clips from the live-action remake are shown briefly as well)
NC (vo): I'd be lying if I said I didn't think this was gonna be closer to what the live-action film is building up...you know, more epic and serious and really embracing the Chinese culture...you know, without Eddie Murphy jokes. But as I'm learning more and more, I should accept Mulan for what it is and not for what I want it to be. And Mulan, honestly, is a lot of fun. If you accept it more as a comedy-adventure, which I think a lot of people do, I think it not only holds up, but the emotional moments hit a little stronger. As a serious film, there wouldn't be nearly enough of the character's struggle or dramatic pacing, but as something a little lighter, you could argue this is just the perfect amount. I'll also give credit that while I never saw the Disney heroines as weak as some others do, I can't really think of one that wielded a weapon before. There is something cool about a Disney Princess lineup and one of them is holding a sword. I can see more and more why this film caught on with kids. It has a lot of energy in its animation, songs, and comedy. It doesn't skip over the dramatic moments either. They're just not focused on as much. Even though it was never one of my personal favorites, I will say, I do remember a lot of it. Whenever somebody quotes a line, I do always know the context despite not watching it a ton. I think kids and adults overtime have really learned to warm up to the charm of it. Whether you're moved by it, empowered by it, or just watch it for some laughs, it doesn't look like this film is gonna be dying in popularity anytime soon.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (Gets up and leaves)
Channel Awesome Tagline: Mushu: Say that to my face, you limp noodle!
(The credits roll)