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Ever since Disney announced the production of a live action version of their animated Mulan, I’ve been waiting anxiously. Finally, the cast has been announced!
I’m so freaking excited to see this film, which releases soon on Disney+ streaming service. Not to worry. I’ve been waiting for years and I’m willing to pay the rental fee to stream it.
I was in college when the animated Mulan came out. I actually saw it in the theater, even though most people would deem me too old to see an animated kids’ movie by myself. I even snatched up the VHS of the film when it became available.
Mulan meant a lot to me because she was one more character on the big screen who looked like me. It didn’t matter that she is Chinese or even a cartoon character. What mattered was that took charge of her own destiny. As much as she loved her family, she knew traditional female roles were not for her.
When the movie came out in 1998, there were very few Asian women on the big screen. I grew up watching wuxia, Chinese martial arts films and tv shows. They were bootlegs and dubbed in Vietnamese. Every night my family watched a few episodes together. Almost every woman in these wuxia films kicked ass. Whether they were a villain or fighting for the good guys, the women were strong and kicked butt. Before Mulan, I couldn’t remember seeing an Asian woman in such a role in American movies and tv shows.
Mulan is one of my favorite badass heroines.
The Women Cast in Mulan + Their Must See Films
For now, I’m going to focus on the women who have been cast so far in Disney’s Mulan. It’s also good to note that the film is directed by a woman. Niko Caro’s directing credits include Whale Rider and McFarland USA.
I’m not familiar with everyone in the live action film’s cast, but I plan on viewing some of their films. There’s plenty of time to catch up on them. See them for the talented, kickass actors they are!
Liu Yifei (Mulan)
Mulan will be played by Liu Yifei. In the 2006 remake of The Return of the Condor Heroes, she plays a kung fu master who falls in love with her student. While that may seem like a big deal to us, it was taboo in their time. Along with its prequel Legend of Condor Heroes, this love story has such a following that it’s been remade several times. You can see the entire series (multi-part movie?) on YouTube. Warning: you’ll want tissues.
While Disney has not confirmed Rosalind Chao’s role in Mulan, you probably know her as Keiko from Star Trek’s The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. She was also in the historic The Joy Luck Club, the first all-Asian cast in an American feature film. In honor of the opening of Crazy Rich Asians this weekend, I suggest you start with The Joy Luck Club.
I don’t think this woman ages! The rumor is that Gong Li will play a powerful witch, a role that doesn’t exist in the animated film. Gong Li has a powerful list of past work. You might have seen her in Western films such as Memoirs of a Geisha or Miami Vice remake. Neither of these films really showcase her talent. I highly recommend the lush drama Curse of the Golden Flower, a film about power plays between an emperor (Chow Yun-Fat), the empress (Gong Li), and the emperor’s heir (Jay Chou). If you want to go way back, try Raise the Red Lantern, which was nominated for an Oscar.
My guess is she will play Mulan’s mother or grandmother. Cheng Pei-Pei has been acting in martial arts films since the 1960s. You may recognize her from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon where she’s kicking butt as Jade Fox.
She’s best known for her 1966 Hong Kong film Come Drink with Me. She plays Golden Swallow, a skilled swordswomen who is on a mission to rescue her brother. I’ve never seen it, but I’m looking forward to streaming it from Amazon Prime.
Slated to play Mulan’s sister, Xana Tang is a Chinese-Vietnamese actress born in New Zealand. I haven’t seen any of her work. Her recent tv credits include George in The Letdown, Cherry in Filthy Rich, and Bo-Lin in Dead Lucky, Australian crime thriller drama series. I look forward to seeing her in action! Here’s a great interview with Xana Tang.
Are you excited to see the live action Mulan? Have you seen these actresses’ works?