Disney reveals first look at live-action remake 'Mulan'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 14, 2018
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Disney reveals the first image of Hua Mulan, played by Liu Yifei, on Aug. 13, 2018. [Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]

Walt Disney Studios announced it has started production of its much-anticipated live-action remake of 1998 classic animation feature "Mulan" on Monday, sharing the Chinese star-studded cast and releasing the first image of the heroine played by Liu Yifei.

Filming will take place in China and New Zealand with "Whale Rider" director Niki Caro as the director chair for the Disney remake. After a year-long global casting, Disney revealed that Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Jet Li, Gong Li, Yoson An, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Ron Yuan, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao, Cheng Pei-Pei, Nelson Lee and Chum Ehelepola will join the cast alongside Chinese star Liu Yifei.

It is reported that Donnie Yen will play the role of Mulan's mentor Commander Tung, Jet Li will play the emperor of China, while Gong Li will portray the witch. Yoson An will play Chen Honghui, an ambitious recruit who becomes Mulan's important ally and eventual love interest.

"Mulan" tells the story of Hua Mulan, a legendary woman warrior from the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420–589) of Chinese history who was originally described in a ballad known as the "Ballad of Mulan." In the legend, Hua Mulan pretends to be male in order to take the place of her aging father in the army, as women were not allowed to enlist. She fought for 12 years and received the highest honors, but refused any reward and instead retired to her hometown. The story is still part of the curriculum in students' textbooks in China.

A file photo of Hua Mulan from Disney's 1998 animated feature film "Mulan." [Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]

There are many Chinese film and TV adaptations of the story at home and abroad. One of the most famous was Disney's 1998 animation featuring Ming-Na Wen, Miguel Ferrer and Eddie Murphy as the characters' voice, although it was a wildly imaginary Hollywood-style adaption. The animation grossed US$304 million worldwide and earned the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations in addition to winning several Annie Awards, including Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature.

To closely collaborate with Chinese cultural consultants and its own China-based team to ensure that the details in the film are authentic and accurate, Disney has hired legendary Hong Kong producer Bill Kong to be the executive producer. Kong is the man behind some of China's biggest domestic smashes such as "Hero," "House of Flying Daggers," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Monster Hunt" and "Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons."

Chris Bender, Jason Reed, and Jake Weiner are producing the movie. Barrie M. Osborne ("The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"), Bill Kong and Tim Coddington ("Crazy Rich Asians") are serving as executive producers. The couple Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver ("Jurassic World"), as well as Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek will write the screenplay.

The live-action "Mulan" is set for release in America and other markets on March 27, 2020.

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