One of the many live-action remakes of Disney’s animated classics that’s on the way is Mulan, a new take on the Chinese folk tale that will follow on from the beloved 1998 version. We previously learned that The Zookeeper Wife‘s Niki Caro would be directing the project and now, after a year-long search, the House of Mouse has founds its leading lady.
The Hollywood Reporter is telling us that, out of 1000 actresses, Liu Yifei (also known as Crystal Liu) has been cast as the legendary warrior woman. Though not too well-known in the west, the Chinese-born Liu is a big star in her home country. In particular, the 30-year-old actress is dubbed “Fairy Sister” by the public for her delicate looks.
However, don’t let her nickname fool you, Liu’s dabbled in action-orientated fare before, such as 2008 Jackie Chan vehicle The Forbidden Kingdom. Plus, it was a requirement of the casting that the actress should be proficient in martial arts. All in all, Liu sounds perfect to bring the Disney princess to life.
In case you’re not familiar with the source material, Mulan tells the story of a 5th century Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man to take her sickly father’s place in the conscripted army. The original animated movie starred Ming Na-Wen (nowadays best known as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Melinda May), alongside Eddie Murphy as tiny talking dragon Mushu and B.D. Wong as love interest Captain Li Shang. The Gifted‘s Jamie Chung later played the role in ABC’s Once Upon A Time.
So far, Liu’s appointment has received a rapturous response from fans. In contrast to many other projects changing Asian movie roles to fit Caucasian actors – 2017’s Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson is a recent example – Disney has always maintained that an actress of appropriate ethnicity would be found for Mulan and thankfully, the studio have lived up to the promise.
Mulan is set to go before the cameras in early 2018, ahead of an expected release in 2019. As always, watch this space for more.