Disney has reinvigorated their live-action division by taking some of their classic animated titles and turning them into live-action films. It’s a model that has proven to be very lucrative for the franchise as they release one hit after another, with their most recent hit, Beauty and the Beast grossing $1.2 billion worldwide. The studio is well into the development of live-action adaptations like Aladdin, Dumbo, and Mulan, which has now found its lead star.
According to new reports, Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, will play Mulan in the live-action adaptation set to be directed by Niki Caro. More on the story below.
The Hollywood Reporters says a casting team visited five different continents and saw nearly 1,000 candidates to fill the role. In order to get it, they had to have martial art skills and the ability to speak English fluently. Not only that, but they also had to have major star power. And it appears that Liu fulfilled all the criteria. For one thing, she appeared in 2008’s Forbidden Kingdom, alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li. In the film, she displayed her skills in martial arts and spoke English. She also appeared alongside some big-name stars in the Chinese entertainment industry. She also had a role in Outcast, where she appeared opposite Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. Her next role will be in Bille August’s period romance The Chinese Widow.
No doubt Disney will try to stay true to the source material as much as possible. But it’s hard not to imagine them casting a big Hollywood name to the film to draw more audiences in. However, I don’t see any whitewashing happening anytime soon. Certainly not after the controversy that drew some unwanted attention last year.
We still don’t know a whole lot about the film or if it will be anything like its animated counterpart. For one thing, Caro has said that it wouldn’t be a musical – not that it needs to be considering that the film only had two memorable songs. But since this will be an live-action adaptation of the animated film, we will most likely see the studio cast roles for the villainous Shan-Yu, and of course, we cannot forget Mushu as the comic-relief. Not to mention the possible love interest in Li Shang. It should be interesting to see if Ming-Na Wen, the actress who voiced the animated character in 1998, will make an appearance.
Disney is scheduled to release Mulan in theaters on November 2, 2018.