Disney casts Chinese lead in live-action Mulan remake

Actress Liu Yifei will play the warrior woman

(Getty, TL)

Let’s get down to business: there’s a new lead in Mulan.

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Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, will star as the warrior woman in Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 hit film starring Eddie Murphy.

While a new face to many in the UK, Liu was chosen from nearly 1,000 candidates for the role, which required an English-speaking actor with credible martial arts skills.

Liu – who grew up in New York – previously took up English-speaking roles in 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom with Jet Li and Jackie Chan, as well as 2015’s Outcast, alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.

Liu’s casting will be welcomed by those who have criticised Hollywood’s ‘whitewashing’ (casting white actors in ethnic roles). The remake of Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell came under fire for casting Scarlett Johansson in the originally Japanese role, and Matt Damon’s role in Chinese blockbuster The Great Wall also drew negative headlines.

Ming-Na Wen, the Chinese actor who voiced Mulan in the 1998 animated movie, took to Twitter to praise the news.

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The film, set to be released in 2019, will be directed by Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife). Like the 1998 picture, it will be based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a headstrong daughter who takes her aged father’s place in the army.