AceShowbiz - On Wednesday, November 29, Disney announced that Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, is tapped to play the legendary Chinese warrior in "Mulan" live-action movie. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the casting team went to continents and sorted through 1000 candidates for the role which requires martial arts skill, English fluency, star quality and Chinese ehtnicity.
Yifei comes with the complete package. The 30-year-old celebrity has appeared in Chinese-American films such as "The Forbidden Kingdom" with Jackie Chan, "The Chinese Widow" with Emile Hirsch and "Outcast" opposite Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. She is also fluent in English, having lived in New York during her childhood and acted in English in the mentioned films.
The casting decision shows that Disney tackles the film's white-washing rumors. Yifei's casting received good reception on Twitter, because the studio opted to advocate diversity as well as to be racially sensitive. Additionally, a Chinese celebrity will help the studio appeal to international audience that comes from Chinese ethnicity.
There is also another notable thing from Yifei's casting. The actress is actually much older than Mulan in Chinese legend and the one depicted in the animated film. The film can age Mulan a few years as a way to make a slightly more mature film and give it an age-appropriate romance with an Asian male lead. However, Yifei is blessed with youthful face and doesn't look at all like her actual age anyway, so her age may not be an issue.
"Mulan" will be directed by Niki Caro, who helmed "Whale Rider" and "The Zookeeper's Wife". The film will be exec produced by Bill Kong, the producer of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "House of Flying Daggers". Previously, Ang Lee was offered to take the director position, but the Oscar-winning director passed on the offer.