Disney's 'Mulan' is available on Netflix

“Mulan,” the 1998 Disney animated adaptation of an ancient Chinese legend, is now available for live streaming on Netflix. The movie made a lot of money when it first ran in theaters and got a lot of critical acclaim for its depiction of a self-reliant daughter of an aging Chinese warrior in the Han Dynasty (roughly around the time the Roman Empire reigned supreme in Europe) who disguises herself as a man and finds love and glory fighting her country’s enemies.

The movie also starred Eddie Murphy, who had previously made a name for himself as both an action hero and star of a number of comedies, as the comic-relief voice of Mushu, a small dragon who volunteers himself as Mulan’s guardian. The role presaged Murphy’s more famous voice depictions of Donkey in the various “Shrek” movies.

“Mulan” also continued Disney’s expansion of the “Disney Princess” franchise beyond Europe.  This broadening of the Disney Princess concept began in movies such as “Pocahontas” and “Aladdin” and continued in “The Princess and the Frog” and “Moana.” The story of Mulan, while familiar in China, was previously unknown in the West.

The story is an interesting variant on the old “Girl meets Boy” trope. Girl (disguised as boy) meets boy. Girl and boy kill a lot of Huns together. Boy gets mad at Girl for fooling him into thinking that she’s a boy. Girl redeems herself by saving the Emperor of China. Boy decides he likes the girl after all.

Mulan was voiced by Ming-Na Wen, who was later to achieve live-action fame on “Stargate: Universe” and “Marvel: Agents of Shield.” Her singing voice was provided by Lea Salonga, who had won acclaim on Broadway with roles in “Miss Saigon” and “Les Miserables” and had also sung the role of a previous Disney Princess, Jasmine in “Aladdin.”

B.D, Wong provided the voice of Captain Li Shang, Mulan’s commanding officer and love interest. The part was sung, however, by Donny Osmond.

A number of other Asian actors, including Pat Morita, George Takei, and James Hong, helped to round out the cast.

Mulan has become a favorite character in other media, including a direct-to-video sequel called “Mulan II,” appearances in a number of video games, and a supporting role in the TV series “Once Upon a Time.” A live-action version of “Mulan” is currently scheduled for release in 2020. Until that time, Netflix subscribers can enjoy the animated story that started it all.