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After months of searching and almost a thousand auditions, we at last get to meet our new Mulan. Popular Chinese actor Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, has secured the title role in the upcoming Mulan live-action remake. Apparently Mulan’s casting directors traveled to five continents to find the perfect undercover warrior, and their hard work seems to have payed off. A quick scroll through Yifei’s IMDb is enough to impress even the staunchest of critics, as she’s appeared in everything from high-budget action films like 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom to popular Chinese television dramas like Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.
And even though Disney had assured us that Mulan, unlike the recent Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange live-action adaptations, wouldn’t be whitewashed, it’s still a relief to know that a Chinese actor landed the lead. Hopefully Disney will follow their own example when they cast the remaining characters, though we have absolutely no doubt that Yifei could carry the film on her own if she had to. She’s fluent in both Chinese and English (she lived in New York for a few years), is trained in martial arts, and has already been a brand ambassador for Dior, Tissot, Garnier and Pantene. She’s clearly both ambitious and business-savvy—qualities that are essential to have when playing someone as determined as Mulan.
Not to mention that the musically-trained Yifei released not one, but two albums in 2006. Mulan director Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife) has implied that Mulan won’t be a musical (tragic, we know), but if Disney doesn’t let Yifei perform “Reflection” it’ll be a true waste of talent. As Vanity Fair points out, Yifei is also slightly older than both the animated Mulan and the real-life Mulan, which could mean that Disney will take a slightly more mature approach to the Chinese legend than they did in 1998.
The new Mulan, which will borrow elements from Disney’s animated classic as well as the historical figure on which the ‘90s movie was based, probably isn’t coming out until 2019. Fortunately we have a few other Disney movies, including Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time and the highly-anticipated The Incredibles 2, to tide us over until then. Accomplished