:Darrell Rooney, Lynne Southerland
The Fa family is happily expecting their daughter Mulan (voice: Ming-Na Wen) to receive a proposal of marriage any day from her former captain, Li Shang (voice: BD Wong), who has been promoted to general. Grandmother Fa (voice: June Foray) is taking bets on when the proposal will occur. Fa Zhou (voice: Soon-Tek Oh), though he claims to disapprove of gambling, places a bet while his wife Fa Li (voice: Freda Foh Shen) isn't looking. A little girl, Sha-ron (voice: Jillian Henry), comes to the door looking for Mulan; Fa Li sends her out to the fields, where Mulan is supposed to be working, but is actually practicing martial arts moves with a rake.
Other children (mostly girls, who seem to be inspired by Mulan's success in the war) gather to watch and soon they beg Mulan to teach them to fight. She breaks into song ("Lesson Number One") as she explains that in order to be tough, you must also be gentle, and goes on to illustrate the concept of yin and yang with other examples like light and dark. When Shang appears the children gather round as he somewhat nervously greets Mulan and seems about to propose. She shoos them away and leads him into the garden.
Mulan's family watches from the house as Shang kneels and after a moment Mulan jumps into his arms -- proposal accepted. At the engagement party (to which "all of China" has apparently been invited), Mulan and Shang give different answers to questions like when they'll get married and how many children they want. Mushu (voice: Mark Moseley), meanwhile, has been milking every drop of glory and attention from his return to his pedestal in the Fa ancestral temple. He's demanded so many perks and privileges from the First Ancestor (voice: George Takei) and the others that they're happy to tell him that when Mulan marries Shang she becomes the responsibility of the Li ancestors, putting Mushu, her guardian, out of a job. He'll be forced to return to his previous post as gong-ringer. He hates that prospect so much that he resolves to prevent the marriage by breaking up Mulan and Shang. In the capital, the emperor (voice: Pat Morita) receives reports that the Huns are planning to attack again. This doesn't take him by surprise; to save China, the emperor has been negotiating a protective alliance with the neighboring country of Qui Gong.
To seal the alliance, the emperor's three daughters, the princesses Ting Ting (voice: Sandra Oh), Su (voice: Lauren Tom), and Mei (voice: Lucy Liu), must marry sons of Lord Qin of Qui Gong. Shang and Mulan receive an urgent summons from the emperor. As they saddle their horses to leave, Mulan's parents give them a gift handed down in the Fa family for generations: yin and yang pendants, one for each of them. Hers is white, his is black.
Mulan and Shang, touched, hurry away to the capital. The emperor gives them a task: they must escort the princesses to Qui Gong, delivering them within three days. If they don't make it in time, the alliance will fall through, leaving China at the mercy of the Huns. When the emperor asks how many troops he'll need to protect the princesses, Shang says only three. Mulan immediately understands that he means their comrades Yao (voice: Harvey Fierstein), Ling (voice: Gedde Watanabe), and Chien-Po (voice: Jerry Tondo). The three soldiers are still looking for girls worth fighting for and getting into trouble in the process (their interview with the matchmaker (voice: April Winchell) goes about as well as Mulan's did in the first movie) -- but they agree to join the mission to Qui Gong. The party meets that evening in the palace courtyard, where the princesses board an enclosed carriage. As she climbs in, Princess Mei loses her shoe.
When Yao helps her put it back on, it's clear the princess and the soldier have noticed one another and they both seem to like what they see. At a rest stop the next day, it seems that Princess Su and Chien-Po are equally attracted (they share a deep interest in food). Ling doesn't do so well; when he tries to joke with Princess Ting Ting, she holds up her fan so only her eyes are visible and doesn't say much. As they're getting ready to move again, the carriage gets loose (with inadvertent help from Mushu) and rolls downhill toward a cliff. When they're unable to extract all the princesses, Shang, Mulan, and the soldiers try to slow down the runaway carriage with their horses and their own bodies, but they can't pull it off -- they all go over the edge. The carriage is smashed to smithereens on the rocks below, but everyone is thrown clear and they land in the river.
They're able to rescue most of their luggage, including their tents, so they make camp. Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po as assigned to guard the princesses for the rest of the day. In the privacy of their tent, the princesses sing about their struggle with their duty to complete the marriages arranged for them when they'd much rather pursue relationships with the soldiers ("Like Other Girls"). When they go outside, the soldiers offer to escort them to the nearby village that evening and the princesses agree to the date. Despite the efforts of Cri-Kee (voice: Frank Welker) to stop him from meddling, Mushu tries to cause friction between Mulan and Shang. That evening the couple has a big argument about how to proceed -- the carriage accident has taken them off the road and used up time they can't spare.
Shang wants to try to follow their somewhat damaged map and find their way to a pass through the mountains -- as a soldier, he prefers to go by the book -- but Mulan feels it will be safer to find a road by following the river. They sort of make up when they realize they're near a village, and there must be a road through it. Mulan goes off to take the first watch while Shang goes to sleep so he can relieve her half way through the night. Mushu sneaks into Shang's tent and without quite waking him up, plants the idea that Mulan is opposed to arranged marriages (which Shang actually already knows) and that she's undermining the mission by encouraging the princesses to back out. When she realizes that the soldiers and the princesses are missing, Mulan goes after them without waking Shang.
Mushu sets up a shadow-puppet show outside Shang's tent, with barrels and stuffed sacks standing in for Mulan and the three princesses. Doing a very good imitation of Mulan's voice, he makes a subversive speech about following one's heart. Shang wakes up and rushes out to find his camp empty. In the village, the triple date is going beautifully.
Yao impresses Princess Mei by winning a wrestling match, Princess Su bonds with Chien-Po over ginger and ginseng, and Ling discovers that Princess Ting Ting does have a sense of humor -- very much like his -- and a weird laugh that he finds adorable. They're all cuddling on a bridge, enjoying the moonlight, when Mulan catches up with them. They're so happy, and her issues with arranged marriages so strong, that she can't bring herself to blame them for falling in love. So what Shang sees when he arrives confirms his suspicions that Mulan is no longer behind their mission.
He sends the princesses back to camp, orders the escorting soldiers not to speak to them ever again, and chews out Mulan for putting her heart above their duty. She replies that her heart tells her what her duty is, and that he doesn't listen to his heart -- in fact, she's not sure he has one. He says maybe their differences will be too much to overcome. On the road the next day, Mulan's sadness over her rift with Shang drives Mushu to confess that he's been trying to break up her engagement. Before she can talk to Shang, the party is attacked by bandits. In an intense fight, Mulan, Shang, and the three soldiers drive most of the bandits off. They pursue one who's dragging Princess Mei across a rope bridge.
They free the princess but the bandits cut the cables, leaving Mulan hanging from a quickly fraying rope and Shang hanging from Mulan's hand. Realizing that nothing can save him, but getting his weight off the rope might save Mulan, Shang lets go and falls out of sight into the deep gorge. A heartbroken Mulan orders the princesses and soldiers to take care of each other and goes on to Qui Gong alone. Instead of delivering the princesses to their unknown fiancÚs, she tells Lord Qin about the destruction of the princesses' carriage, implying that they all died, and offers herself as a bride in their place. After some objections, Lord Qin (voice: Keone Young) and his advisers decide that the hero of China is a fitting bride for Lord Qin's eldest son and they accept the substitution. Lord Qin invokes the Golden Dragon of Unity, apparently an important figure in Qui Gong's culture. The lordling Mulan has volunteered to marry, Prince Jeeki, turns out to be an unimpressive specimen who spends most of his time playing with a finger trap. He complains that Mulan is too old.
Meanwhile, Shang's horse has found his way to the river at the bottom of the gorge. He's just in time to see Shang surface and help him pull himself out of the water. Shang presses on as soon as he can get up on his horse. On the road he meets the soldiers and princesses, who are wondering how Mulan will complete the mission without them.
"By taking your place," Shang answers. (Brief pause for delighted cries of "Shang! You're alive!") Shang admits that Mulan was right: no one should be forced to marry someone they don't love. Like Mulan, he orders the soldiers and princesses to stay behind when he rides on to Qui Gong, but they decide it was more of a friendly suggestion and follow him. Shang joins the crowd gathering in the palace courtyard to watch the wedding that will seal the alliance between China and Qui Gong: the marriage of Mulan and Prince Jeeki. (In her grief and resignation, Mulan achieves the dignity and poise she failed to find for her interview with the matchmaker in the first film. ) Shang objects to the wedding, but Lord Qin refuses to stop it. Shang declares his intention to marry Mulan himself, if she'll have him. (Of course she will.
) At Cri-Kee's suggestion Mushu, who's watching from above, climbs into the mouth of the huge statue of the Golden Dragon of Unity that overlooks the courtyard. When Lord Qin orders his men to seize Shang, Mushu breathes fire on the courtyard and asks "What's with all this drama?" Amazed that the Golden Dragon of Unity is speaking to them, Lord Qin and everyone in the courtyard bow down before the statue. (The soldiers and princesses have arrived to join the crowd. ) As the Golden Dragon, Mushu demands that Mulan and Shang be allowed to marry, and when Lord Qin objects that General Li Shang is not a son of Qui Gong, Mushu retorts that he, the Golden Dragon of Unity, will decide whom to unify. He proceeds to marry the couple himself and for good measure releases the princesses from their vows, declaring they can marry whoever they please. For reasons not explained, the marriage of Mulan and Shang seems to satisfy the conditions of the alliance with China. Lord Qin resigns himself to the situation and plays with Prince Jeeki's finger trap.
All four couples kiss; Mushu kisses Cri-Kee; cue fireworks. Back at the Fa ancestral temple, Mushu is dejectedly packing his bag and preparing to vacate his pedestal. There seems to be a celebration going on nearby -- at least, there are fireworks -- and shortly Mulan and Shang, elaborately dressed, enter the temple. Presumably they, or Mulan's parents, decided that a more formal wedding was in order.
Shang places a tablet among the others in the temple and the ancestors realize he's combining the family temples. That means, to the ancestors' chagrin, that Mushu gets to keep his pedestal. He's so excited by this that he allows himself to be seen by Shang, who it turns out has heard all about him from Mulan. When Mulan asks if Shang can just combine their temples like that -- "aren't there rules?" -- he replies, "Of course -- right next to the rules about dressing up as a man and joining the army!" Mushu struts around demanding massages and other forms of pampering from the ancestors as the camera pulls away from the temple to show that guests are still celebrating in the Fa's courtyard..