Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Mulan casting announcement comes yet another thrilling development.
Jet Li and Gong Li, two of China’s most celebrated veteran actors will be featured in major roles in the live-action adaptation. Jet Li reportedly will be playing the Emperor of China and Gong Li’s role is that of a sinister and powerful witch who will act as the film’s main villain.
It will be Jet’s character that catalyzes the plot of the movie by rallying his troops and conscripting Mulan’s old and ill father. Gong’s character is a new addition to the story, replacing the merciless Hun commander Shan Yu from the animated movie.
Jet Li’s first American role was in Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998, but his career in China first began with the 1982 classic Shaolin Temple. Other credits include Hero, First Of Legend, the Once Upon A Time in China series, Kiss of the Dragon, Forbidden Kingdom, and Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables series. With Jet being a martial artist and retired Wushu champion, will his character possibly see combat in this version of the movie?
Gong Li’s dramatic performances have garnered numerous film awards and honors. In 1992, she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in Venice for her role in The Story of Qiu Ju. Her performances in 2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha and 1993’s Farewell My Concubine also garnered significant attention and acclaim. She also appeared in Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern, which received a good reception but were both banned from release in China for several years.
Both Chinese actors currently enjoy Singaporean citizenship.
Also announced was the casting of another new character. Chinese-Vietnamese actress and New Zealand TV star Xana Tang will be playing Mulan’s sister.
The more and more of the cast that is announced, the higher my hopes are for this production. That sure looks like A LOT of Asian talent!