New details are emerging about Disney’s hotly anticipated live-action remake of Mulan. The original 1998 animated film, Mulan, is based on the Chinese legend Hua Mulan, who joins the Chinese army disguised as a man. She does this to save her father, who is too old and unhealthy to fight, from battle after he is conscripted to the army after the Hun invasion. Wearing his uniform, she joins the army even though women are forbidden from enlisting. The main villain in the original Mulan is the leader of the Hun army, Shan Yu. But it looks like in the upcoming Mulan, the main antagonist will be a witch played by Gong Li.
In an interview on Weibo, Gong Li dropped some information about her character, Xian Lang, reports CBR. Translated from Mandarin, she said. “I’ve never played a villain but with this role — audiences will feel she’s a villain in the beginning but toward the end, they’ll see why.
“There was no witch in the original. There was a man but he wasn’t important [Xian Lang] will become important in this movie […] audiences will understand why this character is the way she is, what she wants — they’ve handled the character very well.”
The Chinese actress went on to explain that her character is a powerful witch who “can turn herself into a thousand eagles.” Furthermore, she compared her character to the shapeshifting demoness, White Bone Spirit, from the Chinese novel “Journey to the West.”
Not too much information, but it indicates that the movie is moving more toward the magical. Gong Li also revealed that Mulan will cost around $300 million to make. If true, this would be the most expensive non-sequel Disney movie.
Mulan will be directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay written by Rich Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It stars Liu Yifei as the title character and is expected in theaters in March 2020.
Disney summarized the story as, “The eldest daughter of an honored warrior, Hua Mulan is spirited, determined and quick on her feet. When the Emperor issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army, she steps in to take the place of her ailing father as Hua Jun, becoming one of China’s greatest warriors ever.”