Disney’s been on a live-action remake kick in the last few years, including Beauty and the Beast (2017) and last year’s Aladdin and The Lion King. Next on the list is the beloved story of Mulan, which debuted as an animated film in 1998. The movie became an instant classic and features some of Disney’s most memorable music, though the remake’s director just confirmed there won’t be any musical numbers in the film. Below, everything we know about this upcoming Disney “epic”—and why the original’s famous songs won’t be there.
When will the movie come out?
Mulan hits theaters March 27, 2020.
Who will play Mulan?
Disney announced its casting decision in November 2017 after an extensive search. Chinese actress Liu Yifei, who also goes by Crystal Liu, will play the movie’s heroine. She is well known for her work in China, and previously worked on The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) and Outcast (2014).
Who will be her love interest?
Unfortunately this version of the story will not include Li Shang, who is Mulan’s love interest in the original movie, and ultimate Disney hottie of our hearts. The film will instead include a character named Chen Honghui. Honghui is described as a member of Commander Tung’s unit who becomes close to Mulan, and will be played by New Zealand-based actor Yoson An, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Who else is in the cast?
Chinese actor Donnie Yen, previously of Disney’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), will play Commander Tung, who is Mulan’s mentor, The Hollywood Reporter reports.
Iconic Chinese actor and martial artist Jet Li will take on the role of the emperor.
The film also cast Utkarsh Ambudkar to play a con artist named Skath and Ron Yuan to play Sergeant Qiang, a commander in the Imperial Regiment, Deadline reports. Yuan previously worked on Netflix’s Marco Polo and currently appears on Freeform’s Siren, while you might recognize Ambudkar as one of the Treblemakers from Pitch Perfect. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Ambudkar will act alongside Chum Ehelepola, who will play his partner Ramtish.
Meanwhile, Rosalind Chao of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Cheng Pei-Pei, and Nelson Lee have joined the cast (although their roles remain unclear), and the live action remake incorporates the addition of Mulan’s sister, The Hollywood Reporter reports, who will be played by actress Xana Tang.
Who will play the villain?
Gong Li, a Chinese actress famous for her work in the award-winning film The Story of Qiu Ju (1992), will play the film’s villain, a witch, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Her English films include Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and Hannibal Rising (2007).
Playing a second villain is Jason Scott Lee, who voiced Mowgli in the 1994 live-action version of The Jungle Book. Lee will take on the role of Bori Khan, “a warrior leader who is intent on avenging his father’s death” per the Hollywood Reporter.
Who is the director?
The film is being directed by Niki Caro, who recently directed The Zookeeper’s Wife starring Jessica Chastain. “It’s a big, girly martial arts epic. It will be extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving,” she told MovieFone of her vision for the new film.
Will it be a musical?
Much to the sadness of fans, it was originally reported that the live-action movie will not be a musical. However, Caro later corrected that statement, telling The Hollywood Reporter in April of 2017, “We’re still exploring the role that music’s going to play in it, but for sure there will be music.”
But in a January 2020 interview with Buzzfeed, Caro confirmed that several of the animated film’s signature songs wouldn’t be included in the live-action version. “We don’t tend to break into song when we go to war.” She added, “Not saying anything against the animation because the songs are brilliant and if I could squeeze them in there, I would have.”
Before fans begin protesting, Caro clarified, “But we do honor the music from the animation in a very significant way, that’s all I’ll say.” She also said, “Fans of the animated classic will find some really iconic moments in this.” She also clarified that Mulan’s dragon sidekick Mushu won’t appear in the new movie.
The film’s trailer, released in December 2019, also suggests a more realistic tone for the project, sans characters breaking out into song.