Another cast announcement from Disney’s upcoming live-action Mulan movie, with Yoson An reportedly hired to play the title character’s love interest.
Based on a Chinese legend originally written down by Guo Maoqian, Mulan tells the story of a girl in Han Dynasty China. To fend off an invasion, every family in the country is required to send one man into military service. Worried about her aged father’s safety, Mulan disguises herself as a man and joins in his place.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, An will play a character named Chen Honghui, described as a “confident and ambitious” soldier who becomes an ally of Mulan’s before they fall in love. Mulan herself will be played by famous Chinese actress Liu Yifei.
Fans of Disney’s animated Mulan, which came out in 1998, may notice that this sounds a bit different from that film, where Mulan’s love interest was named Li Shang. Played by D.B. Wong (with Donnie Osmond performing this singing voice), he was the son of a general actually Mulan’s commanding officer. Training her regiment was Shang’s first assignment, and the two helped each other grow as they also defeated the invading Huns.
In the new film, Shang seems to have been split into two characters: An’s Chen Honghui, and a Commander Tung, played by Donnie Yen of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He has been described as a mentor figure, which is sort of the role that Shang had in the original movie before finding out that Mulan is secretly a woman.
Indeed, it sounds as if this new version of Mulan will be quite different from the original, to the point when one could argue that it’s more an original adaptation of the legend than a remake of the 1998 movie. Perhaps even more startling than the change in love interest is the change of villains: while the older movie had Miguel Ferrer’s Shan Yu, a merciless but otherwise normal warrior, this new version will have Gong Li playing a witch.
As for An, the New Zealander is a relatively unknown actor, though he has had a recurring role in Grace and a small part in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny; he will also be in the upcoming films Mortal Engines and The Meg.