Monday 15 April 2013

Mulan Blu-ray Review - I'll Make an HD Man Out of You


Mulan is available to own on Disney Blu-ray™ from today

Four Disney films arrive on Blu-ray here in the UK today: Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Brother Bear and Mulan. Rounding off our quadrilogy of reviews is this one of the HD transfer of Disney's 1998 animated classic. Given that the primary focus of A113Animation is news, often there are many an old film on which I haven't made clear my opinion - allow me to rectify this particular instance: I love Mulan. The film is funny, has great music, is very dark in places, has a great villain, a great voice cast and, the most recent addition, a pretty damn good Blu-ray package.

The main menu of the Mulan Blu-ray.

Mulan is an almost universally beloved Disney film, but not one often ranked among the top few - but it should be. Perhaps not quite the majestic epic that The Lion King is, but it's certainly up there with brilliant films like AladdinThe Jungle Book and Pinocchio for my money. What makes it work, what makes it unique, is its differences from the traditional Disney canon. The direction is note-perfect, too, and not a scene is wasted in the entire film.

The films to which the most direct comparisons are appropriate are Aladdin and Hunchback - all stem from the Disney Renaissance, and the latter was released only two years earlier than Mulan. I was very, very impressed with almost all aspects of the Aladdin Blu-ray set - the picture quality is sharp and deep, the sound is immersive and the film is brilliant - but the bonus features were rather lacking. Hunchback was even worse in that respect. Brother Bear had a larger number of bonus features, but inconsistent picture quality. Mulan is the most consistently impressive Blu-ray set of the four.

While, no, there are again no new bonus features here, at least there are quite a few. There are a substantial amount of deleted scenes and music videos, as well as an audio commentary with directors Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. While it would have been better to have at least something new to add, there are enough bonuses to pacify Disney fans.

What is, again, brilliant is the picture quality. The high definition transfer isn't quite immaculate - there are some slightly jagged edges and minor instances of banding - but it is still hellishly impressive. The colours are deep and visceral, and the lines are crisp and clear. The film's oriental style means the film is imbued with bright, vivid colours, that are particularly enthralling during the film's firework-firing finale. The devil, as they say, is in the detail, and a lot of effort has clearly been put into restoring Mulan, as it looks sparkling and new. Both this, and Aladdin, have art styles and settings that particularly glimmer in their 1080p versions, and I would definitely recommend checking out both.

Audio also mirrors that of the Aladdin Blu-ray, in that Mulan boasts very impressive sound quality too. It booms and whispers, perfectly setting and capturing the mood of every scene and taking you on an immersive, emotional roller-coaster - only enhanced by the superb quality of the film itself. Mulan boasts a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which handles directionality very well and enhances the overall experience just that bit more.

US '2 Movie Collection' combo pack cover art.

US readers got this Blu-ray last in a double pack with the direct-to-video sequel, Mulan II, so, to them, I'd definitely recommend checking out the Aladdin set. To UK readers, whether you plump for this, or for that, you're getting a great deal. Mulan, however, is the most well rounded and thoroughly enjoyable release of the lot, and comes heartily recommended by A113Animation.

(Blu-ray stills via

Movie: 9/10
Picture Quality: 9/10
Sound Quality:  9/10
Bonus Features: 7/10

Overall Blu-ray package: 8.5/10

You can order Mulan on Blu-ray via our Amazon Link above (UK, left/US, right).

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