Remaking classic animated hits into live-action retellings seems to be Disney’s current formula for success. Some argue that this formula is getting tiresome, due to the lack of new original ideas. The argument is fair, but can you really blame the studio when its lead them to Oscar-winning success (The Jungle Book won the award for visual effects in 2017). Their current slate includes a live-action Aladdin, The Sword in the Stone, and Mulan reimagining. These all have a fair amount of pressure to artistically succeed, but Mulan carries the most weight. This is not the place to debate, but Mulan and her story stand as one of the best from all the Disney princesses. The music has stood the test of time and some of the other Disney princess films fail to reach out to an audience like Mulan does. Great actors have to be cast under the right direction for a live-action interpretation. If you are eager for this project, then today you are in luck. Deadline has just broken news that implies that Disney is headed in the right direction.
Chinese action star Donnie Yen has just been cast in what may be a pivotal role. You may recognize him from the popular Ip Man series, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. You more than likely recognize him from Rogue One considering that his character Chirrut Imwe is widely recognized as one of the best highlights from the hit film. Mulan will now count as the second Disney film in his already impressive resume.
The site is reporting that he will be portraying the character of Commander Tung. He is being described as being Mulan’s mentor and teacher. He joins Liu Yifei who was first announced to be portraying Mulan months ago. Niki Caro will make this her second Disney directing job after helming McFarland, USA in 2015. She is also known for her directorial work on Whale Rider and The Zookeeper’s Wife. She follows Ava DuVernay in being the second female director hired by Disney to direct a film with a budget higher than 100 million.
It is great to see the efforts the studio is putting into casting Chinese actors. Hollywood has an ugly history of classifying specific Asian roles as being interchangeable between actors of any eastern decent. Donnie Yen is a superb actor and he can show great range in playing Mulan’s mentor. We should expect Disney to hire more fantastic Chinese actors when the rest of the casting is announced. What other actors are you hoping to see in the film? Discuss in the comments below and make sure to be ready to see Mulan in 2020.