Yesterday we learned that Donnie Yen had joined the cast of the live-action remake of Mulan, and now we have two more casting additions. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chinese actress Gong Li has joined the cast while Jet Li is in final negotiations.
Gong Li is one the most famous actresses working in China, and THR is reporting that she’s been cast as a villain who is “a powerful witch”. This would be a pretty big departure from the original Disney movie and add a much more supernatural tone to the movie.
Gong has long been considered one of China’s finest actresses and greatest beauties. A longtime muse of Zhang Yimou since her debut in 1988’s Red Sorghum, she also has starred in his The Story of Qiu Ju (for which she won two best actress awards at Venice), Raise the Red Lantern, Curse of the Golden Flower and, most recently, 2014’s Coming Home. She also earned international acclaim in Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine. Gong starred opposite Jeremy Irons in Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box and has acted in English in Memoirs of a Geisha, Miami Vice and Hannibal Rising.
Jet Li is much more well known in the United States, and according to THR is in talks to be the emperor. He is the one who orders all of the houses to send one male to the front lines and is the reason Mulan decides to dress as a man to protect her father.
The Beijing-born Li is one of China’s biggest and most enduring crossover stars. After the martial arts champ became a superstar in Asia on the strength of franchises like Shaolin Temple and Once Upon a Time in China, he made his Hollywood debut in 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4, followed by Romeo Must Die opposite Aaliyah in 2000. His other credits include Zhang Yimou’s Hero, Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s 2007 epic The Warlords and The Expendables series.
THR also reports that Chinese-Vietnamese actress Xana Tang has also joined the cast as Mulan’s sister in another departure from the source material.
The movie stars Liu Yifei as Mulan and will be directed by Niki Caro. It has a release date of March 27th, 2020 and is set to start filming this summer.