Movie Review: Mulan (1998)

Confession time: I have never actually watched this movie before. I know dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow, blah blah blah. But I then thought that since Disney recently released their live action remake, I might actually give this animated version a go (finally). So let’s get down to business.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulan”.

Fearing that her father might die if he goes to war, young Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) steals his gear and pretends to be a man so she can take his place in the army. We all know the basic setup at this point, even if you haven’t seen this movie. And the way it’s handled here I quite enjoyed. It’s not without fault however. There are parts of the story that I feel they glossed over a bit, kinda rushing through some aspects in an effort to get to the “good stuff”. That’s not to say that the story here is bad, it’s still a fun family adventure without a good message at its core. I just wish it maybe slowed down a little more to let certain moments simmer more. But as it stands, the story and the way it’s told is still quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, fun, and surprisingly nuanced at times. First up is Mulan, title character and very relatable person. While the people around her want her to be a fancy girly-girl to honor her family, even though she’s not like that at all. And to see her development in the movie from somewhat clumsy and insecure to someone a bit more tough and confident, that’s engaging. And Ming-Na Wen does an excellent job voicing Mulan. Next we have Mushu, a guardian dragon who sets out to help Mulan become a hero… even if he’s only doing it for his own gain. He’s mostly there to bring laughs, but I think the filmmakers found a good balance in that and making him a valuable part of certain emotional developments. And while it might seem slightly jarring to put Eddie Murphy in a role like that at first, I must say that he was great in the role. Then you also get supporting work from people like B.D. Wong, James Hong, Harvey Fierstein, Soon-Tek Oh, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, Frank Welker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music of this film is quite good. The main score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s an absolute treat for the ears, creating a lot of emotion through the various tracks, giving us a some great background ambiance. Then you have the songs (’cause you know, Disney) that were done by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel. While I don’t think that all of them are among the upper echelon of Disney musical songs, they still generally work pretty well for the movie. The peak of the tracks is of course “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (sung by Donny Osmond), a most excellent montage song. So yeah, overall this movie has good music.

Based on a Chinese folk legend, “Mulan” was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (with writing credits given to a shitload of people, good grief). And I must say that the craft on display here is absolutely superb. The art style for example takes inspiration from traditional Chinese artwork, and blending it with traditional Disney animation to create an absolutely stunning look for this movie that feels wholly its own. The animation is especially breathtaking in motion, where it shows great fluency that is a treat for the eyes.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

While its storytelling isn’t the best, due to its fast pace, “Mulan” is still another winning movie within the Disney catalogue. It has a good story, good characters, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mulan” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Mulan” is now completed.

Sometimes you just a need a film that can make you smile. This one did that for me.

Movie Review: Safe (2012)

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I love Jason Statham, he’s awesome. He is one of those actors that you don’t care if he gets typecast as “Touch action guy” because he does it so well. But if you want somethign else from him, you can get that thanks to movies like “Snatch”. So let’s take a look at another one of his “Tough guy” movies.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are… “Safe”.

In this movie we see a little girl named Mei (Cahterine Chan) who is insanely good with numbers (the stereotypes manifest quickly). So a bunch of Chinese gangsters want gets their hands on her to keep her as their personal bookkeeper. So then we have Luke (Jason Statham) who is as down on his luck as one can be who notices her and decides to help her and keep her safe (roll credits). And now the triads, the Russian mobsters and the corrupt cops are after them. Clichéd? Yeah, very. Entertaining? Surprisingly, yes. This plot had a little bit more depth than expected from a Jason Statham action movie. I enjoyed the plot a bit and I think that is because the movie has a perfect length. It is neither too long nor too short. I was surprised at how much I could actually enjoy and appreciate the plot of the movie.

The characters are nothing really to write home about, they are pretty… meh. At least the supporting cast, they are nothing special which is a bit of a shame because we got a great cast here. But let’s talk about our main players here; Statham and Chan. Statham is actually really good in this movie, not simply being really tough and badass. He gives a really good performance. And Catherine Chan who plays the little girl Mei is also really good. I really loved the conversations between her and Statham, they were so sweet and entertaining. Now we move on to the disappointingly bad supporting cast. First off we have James Hong who’s been in tons of great stuff, he was not as great as he could have been. Next is Anson Mount, and this is probably the most disappointing part for me because I love him so much in “Hell on Wheels”. We also have Reggie Lee who plays one of the main triad members, and he wasn’t very good which is sad because he is pretty great at playing a bad guy/slime ball in “Prison Break”. Also, Chris Sarandon is in this movie. Yeah, Jack Skellington from “Nightmare Before Christmas”, he plays the mayor here.

The music in the movie was pretty good. The score was done by Mark Mothersbaugh and that was decently good, nothing really special or even that exciting. There was however a fair amount of licensed tracks in the movie and I thought those were really good. So I’d say the soundtrack in total is pretty good, but not great.

This movie was both written and directed by the same man, Boaz Yakin, a man I know nothing about. If you know any good movies by him, please feel free to mention it. Anyway, he wrote this and teh script/dialogue was really good. He also directed the movie and I think he did a great job with it. The shots look great and the pacing is excellent. And the action in the movie is pretty badass too. Sure, there is shaky-cam, but it’s moe in the sense of the “Bourne” trilogy rather than in “Alex Cross”. In other words, it isn’t used to mask bad choreography but is more of stylistic choice. But you know what makes up for some of the shaky-cam? Some incredible sound effects. You will sit there looking and suddenly here a *Crack* and think “Okay, that was definitely someone getting something broken”. And I love it, the effects made it better.

This movie has been decently well-received, but what else does one expect from a Jason Statham action movie? On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 57% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

I’m not gonna lie, you guys… I had a great time with “Safe”. While the story faces some clichés, it’s still entertaining, shame that the supporting characters aren’t that great, and the soundtrack overall is pretty good, and the directing is great. The writing and action are also very good. Time for my final score. *Pops someone’s knee, steals envelope*. My final score for “Safe” is a 9,00/10. I think it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

“Safe” is now reviewed.

I guess that we’re all pretty… Safe… (Puns…)