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Jet Li and Gong Li join Disney's live-action Mulan remake

Jet Li in War

Story by Jack Foley

JET Li and Gong Li have joined the cast of Disney’s live-action Mulan.

The former is in final talks to play the emperor of China, who orders the mobilization of troops via the conscription of one male from each household.

It is these actions that prompt the titular heroine, Hua Mulan (the previously cast Liu Yifei), to disguise herself as a man in order to spare her elderly father from having to join the military.

Beijing-born Li is one of China’s biggest and most enduring crossover stars. A former martial arts champ, he became a film superstar in Asia on the strength of franchises like Shaolin Temple and Once Upon a Time in China before making his Hollywood debut in 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4.

This was swiftly followed by Romeo Must Die opposite Aaliyah in 2000, as well as Zhang Yimou’s Hero, Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s 2007 epic The Warlords and a recurring role in Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables series.

Gong Li, meanwhile, has been confirmed to play the villain of Mulan, a powerful witch.

Colin Farrell and Gong Li in Miami Vice

Gong has long been considered one of China’s finest actresses, having become a long-time muse of Zhang Yimou since her debut in 1988’s Red Sorghum.

She also has starred in his The Story of Qiu Ju (for which she won two best actress awards at Venice), Raise The Red Lantern, Curse of the Golden Flower and, most recently, 2014’s Coming Home.

She also earned international acclaim in Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.

In Hollywood, Gong starred opposite Jeremy Irons in Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box and has acted in English in Memoirs of a Geisha, Miami Vice and Hannibal Rising.

Also joining the cast is Chinese-Vietnamese actress Xana Tang, who will play Mulan’s sister. The New Zealand-based actress’ credits include local series Filthy Rich and Australian series The Letdown and Dead Lucky.

Niki Caro is directing the film, which also includes Donnie Yen as Mulan’s mentor, Commander Tung.

Mulan, which recently saw its release date pushed back to March 27, 2020, will begin shooting in August in China and New Zealand.

Both the characters played by Tang and Gong Li are original creations for the live-action version of the story.

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