For fans who were disappointed by the news that Disney's live action Mulan remake won't be released until 2020, there's a silver lining. Recent casting news about the movie shows that the studio is making a conscious effort to make the movie as awesome as possible. Gong Li and Jet Li will star in the Mulan remake, which means that even more legendary Chinese stars will be in the film. Gong Li has been confirmed to appear in Mulan, while Jet Li is in "final talks" to be in the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Jet Li is in talks to play the emperor of China, but Gong Li's character isn't one fans will recognize from the Disney cartoon. According to THR, Gong Li will play a witch, who's apparently the villain of the new movie. The cartoon Mulan didn't rely much on magic, with the main tension between the Chinese military and the Huns, so it will be interesting to see how Disney adds Gong Li's character into the mix. Regardless of how the supernatural elements might play into the live-action movie, it's nice to hear that Disney is casting Chinese actors to play the movie's roles.
Gong Li and Jet Li will definitely be recognizable names for Chinese audiences, too. Gong Li has starred in movies like The Story of Qiu Ju, Farewell My Concubine, and Curse of the Golden Flower, as well as the English-language Memoirs of a Geisha and Miami Vice. And in addition to being a martial arts star, Jet Li has acted in Once Upon a Time in China and Shaolin Temple, as well as Lethal Weapon 4 and Romeo Must Die. The two of them join Chinese actor Liu Yifei, who will play Mulan in the movie. Disney also recently cast Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Mulan's mentor in the Chinese military. Yen recently appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and he's also starred in plenty of Chinese films.
Fans were excited to hear the casting news, though plenty of people are wondering just what Gong Li's villainous witch character will be like. Some fans were concerned about the departure from the 1998 cartoon, while others were excited to see another prominent woman character in the new movie.
Gong Li's character isn't the only addition to the new movie, either. In the live-action Mulan remake, Mulan will have a sister, played by Chinese-Vietnamese actor Xana Tang. Fans don't seem to be upset that Mulan has a sister, per se, but that the news comes after rumors about other changes to the story. Namely, fans aren't thrilled that the live-action Mulan might not be a musical, since the songs from the original cartoon were so memorable.
Aside from the changes, the casting news also means that Jet Li might deliver one of the most iconic lines of the live-action movie. Fans will remember that in the cartoon Mulan, the emperor of China says to Li Shang, "You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty." Li Shang doesn't seem to be a character in the new Mulan movie, but there could still be a way to work the iconic line into the new script.
It's still disappointing that Mulan's release date has been delayed — as of now, the movie will be released on March 27, 2020 — but the casting news should still make fans excited. The live-action Mulan definitely won't be a whitewashed movie, so if Disney needs longer to get everything right, it will be worth the extra wait.