Loosely based on a Chinese story, Mulan is set during Imperial China during an invasion by the Huns. When every family in the country is required to send one man into the army, a young woman named Mulan disguises herself in order to prevent her aged father from risking his life on the battlefield.
The new castings are as follows:
- Donnie Yen, who starred in 2016’s Rogue One as Chirrut Îmwe and is well-known in China for the Ip Man franchise, will be playing Commander Tung, a mentor figure created specifically for this adaptation.
- Jet Li, a martial arts star, will be playing the Emperor of China—a somewhat surprising role, given that, based on the 1998 movie, he will mostly just sit on his throne and not really get to show off his fighting talents. Perhaps that will change in this telling?
- Gong Li will play the main villain, a witch. This is quite different from the animated version, where the antagonist, Shan Yu, was a large, intimidating male warrior with no supernatural abilities.
- Xana Tang will be playing Mulan’s sister, another role invented for this movie. It is unknown how big of a part she will play, given that Mulan spends most of the story away from home.
By now, one begins to notice a pattern: aside from the Emperor (a small but important role), these are all new characters. Indeed, the film has proven controversial given the large number of changes that it seems to be making; the animated film’s love interest, Shang Li, will apparently be replaced by a new character as well. In addition, there will apparently be no musical numbers (despite the famed epicness of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You“).
Chinese actress Liu Yifei will play Mulan. Aside from Jet Li, none of these actors are hugely known in America, but many are famous in the Chinese market, which will be even more important for this film than most. While fans find the new story questionable, this cast will likely do a good job bringing it to life.