Following the announcement earlier this week that Disney’s upcoming live adaptation of Mulan will co-star martial arts legend Donnie Yen, two more huge Chinese stars have been added to the cast. Jet Li and Gong Li will join Yen and Liu Yifei in the movie, which is scheduled for a 2020 release.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jet Li will play the emperor of China, while Gong Li is to appear as the movie’s villain, a powerful witch. As THR notes, this will be a new character, and not one that featured in the 1993 animated movie.
Like Yen, Jet Li has appeared in many of Hong Kong and China’s most popular action movies over the past three decades. The pair appeared together in Hero, and Li’s other movies include Fist of Legend and the Once Upon A Time In China series. In the US, he is known for roles in movies such as The Expendables and Lethal Weapon 4. Gong Li, meanwhile, is one of the China’s best known actresses, and appeared in movies like Memoirs of a Geisha, Miami Vice, and Curse of the Golden Flower.
Mulan is scheduled to hit theaters on March 27, 2020 and is directed by Niki Caro, who is best known for the acclaimed drama Whale Rider. It will combine the story of the 1998 animated film with the tale of the legendary Hua Mulan, who impersonated a man to fight against a Hun invasion in the 4th Century.
It was previously reported that Disney was hiring an all-Asian cast, to avoid the accusations of “white-washing” that were levelled at a number of other movies recently. The manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell was criticised for casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role, while actor Ed Skrein quit the upcoming Hellboy remake after he discovered that his role was Asian in the Hellboy comics.
Mulan is just one of many live-action remakes of Disney classics that are in development. New adaptatins of The Lion King and Aladdin are due in 2019, with Dumbo, Pinocchio, and The Jungle Book 2 also on the way.