Disney’s Live-Action ‘Mulan’ Gets a Female Villain and Jet Li
It was a huge bummer when we learned Disney’s live-action Mulan was being delayed a whole two years last month. But putting things on pause is quickly proving to be worthwhile. The studio and director Niko Caro have said they’re committed to properly casting the film, a remake of the 1998 animated film that was based on a classic Chinese fable. And the latest casting news is only getting better.
After reports that Ip Man and Rogue One star Donnie Yen had joined the cast, The Hollywood Reporter has revealed the addition of two more major Chinese stars: Jet Li and Memoirs of a Geisha actress Gong Li. Jet Li will play the Emperor of China, a youthful (and pretty badass) upgrade to the old, bearded character from the animated film. You can bet Caro’s Emperor won’t just be a sweet and wise grandpa figure sitting on a throne if he’s played by a skilled martial artist like the Unleashed and Romeo Must Die actor.
The especially interesting bit of news concerns Gong Li’s character: she’ll play a powerful witch, who is also the film’s villain. That’s quite a change-up from the creepy mustachio’d Hun, Shan Yu, of the original movie, and suggests Caro’s film might dabble in the magical elements of the 1998 movie. Chinese model and actress Liu Yifei will play the titular female warrior who poses as a man to spare her father from going to war. Chinese-Vietnamese actress Xana Tang will play Mulan’s sister, and Yen, as previously announced, will be a whole new character as Mulan’s mentor, Commander Tung. Hopefully we’ll learn who will play the studly Li Shang and the chatty Mushu (if either make the cut for the remake) when production kicks off in China and New Zealand later this summer.
Mulan will hit theaters March 27, 2020.