- “You are one lucky bug.”
Cri-Kee is a "lucky" cricket purchased by Grandmother Fa, who believed Mulan needed all the help she could receive during her trip to the Matchmaker. However, despite being deemed a lucky cricket, Cri-Kee confesses to Mushu at one point that he is not, which would explain his timid behavior during dangerous situations. Even so, throughout the film, Cri-Kee goes through various perils and survives each of them, having Mushu believe he is, indeed, lucky. Cri-Kee does not speak and merely communicates through chirps, but he is understood by mythical creatures, such as Mushu.
Cri-Kee was the creation of veteran Disney employee Joe Grant, who worked for the studio as far back as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. The concept of Cri-Kee was inspired by the filmmakers' research, where they learned that crickets are a symbol of luck in China. Based on this, Grant insisted that the filmmakers add a cricket character to the movie; he supposedly slipped various sketches of Cri-Kee through the office doors of the directors. According to animator Barry Temple, "no one wanted him [Cri-Kee] in the movie, the directors didn't want him in the movie, the story department didn't want him in the movie. The only ones who truly wanted him in the movie were Michael Eisner and Joe Grant — and myself, because I was assigned the character."
In Mulan, Cri-Kee is shown to be eager to please. Though he does not believe himself to be lucky, he does strive to be useful and is therefor quick to aid those in need. However, Cri-Kee is somewhat passive; he goes with Mushu's orders without question and rarely has any input on the dragon's schemes besides manual labor. As a result, he often gets the shorter end of the stick by either being scolded by Mushu and facing some kind of physical injury. Cri-Kee does not seem to mind, and in turn, Mushu goes out of his way to protect Cri-Kee when things become dangerous (as was the case in the mountain battle against the Huns). In relation to Mushu, Cri-Kee acts as a straight man foil to the dragon's larger-than-life personality. Despite serving as Mushu's "yes man", Cri-Kee has had his fair share of wisecracks at the dragon's expense (such as referring to him as a loser at one point), though this typically ends with a round of scolding from Mushu.
In Mulan II, Cri-Kee's personality differs slightly as he is portrayed as having more agency than in the original film. Rather than being the put upon assistant of Mushu, Cri-Kee is portrayed as Mushu's polar opposite and better half. Though he values Mushu as a friend, he shows to be easily annoyed by the dragon's schemes and selfishness, particularly when they affect their friends. As such, Cri-Kee takes it upon himself to keep a sharp eye on Mushu and at least tries to lead the dragon down the right path. He usually fails, but there are times where his guidance is taken for what it's worth.
Cri-Kee is first shown being caged up. Mulan's grandmother walks across a road (while covering her eyes) to test Cri-Kee's luckiness, despite Mulan's protests. After being successful, he is "proven" lucky. He accidentally messes up Mulan's chance with the Matchmaker by climbing into the tea that the Matchmaker was going to drink out of. Mulan attempts to retrieve the cup to stop the Matchmaker from consuming the cricket. Unfortunately, this results in a series of accidents, culminating in Mulan pouring tea on the Matchmaker in an attempt to douse the fire that is burning the Matchmaker's dress. Mulan quickly heads outside, with Cri-Kee returning to his cage to avoid causing more trouble, where the Matchmaker openly berates her in front of the crowd. During the "Reflection" musical number, Mulan releases Cri-Kee but he, out of sympathy for Mulan (and possibly out of guilt for having accidentally ruined her meeting with the Matchmaker), chooses to follow her instead of leaving.
After Mulan leaves for the war, it is Cri-Kee that persuades Mushu to go after her (as the Ancestors wanted him to bring her home by force) and convinced the dragon to let him come with him under the assumption that he was lucky. Cri-Kee aids Mushu in turning Mulan into a war hero. At one point, he assists Mushu in tricking Chi-Fu by forging a letter by General Li as a means to get Mulan and her unit into the front of the battle. During the final battle at the Imperial City, Cri-Kee helps Mushu defeat Shan Yu by firing a Chinese firecracker towards him on top of the Emperor's palace. When Cri-Kee miraculously survives the explosion afterward, Mushu comments that Cri-Kee is "a lucky bug". During the epilogue, Cri-Kee lastly appears to summon the ancestors by striking the gong once and playing a drum kit made out of pots and pans.
In the sequel, Cri-Kee reappears as Mushu's companion (though he spends significantly more time with Mulan than he does in the original film). Cri-Kee is first seen helping Mulan and Little Brother with the former's martial arts lesson. Later when Mulan announces her engagement to Shang to Mushu, Cri-Kee leaps at the opportunity to assist in overseeing wedding preparations. Unfortunately for Mushu, Mulan and Shang's marriage would result in him losing his job as Mulan's guardian, prompting him to make several attempts to sabotage their relationship to preserve his position. Cri-Kee tags along to prevent Mushu's scheme, but his inability to warn Mulan results in Mushu's unmitigated success. Fortunately, upon seeing the negative effects of his actions, Mushu has a change of heart and works alongside Cri-Kee to save Mulan and Shang's relationship. The two eventually marry, resulting in Mushu losing his position. Cri-Kee stands by his companion as the latter packs away his belongings and commends him on his selfless behavior. Mushu is initially content with his good deed and Cri-Kee's support but is further rewarded when Shang combines his family temple with Mulan's, thus allowing Mushu to retain his position.
Cri-Kee makes numerous cameo appearances in the animated series House of Mouse as a recurring guest. Cri-Kee is usually found with Mushu and is seen spectating whenever the dragon is on screen. Many times throughout the show, Mushu would have a sassy comment, dictating it to Cri-Kee. One notable cameo had Cri-Kee seated with Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. Cri-Kee also appears with Mushu, in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
A Cri-Kee-inspired human character named Cricket, an archer, appears in the live-action remake, portrayed by Jun Yu. He explains that he was named Cricket by his family so that he will be lucky. Despite being clumsy and weaker than the rest of the soldiers, he is shown to be very skilled with a bow and arrow. He assists Mulan in marching toward the Imperial City to save the Emperor, and in the end, survives the ordeal.
In this version's matchmaker scene, a spider takes his role.
In It's a Small World: The Animated Series, Cri-Kee makes a brief, non-speaking cameo in the episode "Just One Moon".
In the interactive game, Mushu is tasked with delivering scrolls to try Emperor. Before he can begin his errand, however, Cri-Kee approaches and inadvertently startles Mushu, causing the scrolls to lose some of their magic. Cri-Kee then leaves the scene. He later appears during actual gameplay, specifically in the village stage, where Grandma Fa pitched Cri-Kee in the market (he is the blue cricket that is among the other lucky crickets, along with a green cricket and brown cricket, that can be selected as good luck charms).
- According to Barry Temple, most of the filmmakers believed Cri-Kee's character was not necessary to the story. During story meetings, some would even comment on something along the lines of, "Oh, to hell with the cricket." when discussing Cri-Kee's role in a scene.
- Kurtti, J. (1998). The Art of Mulan. Hyperion Books.