We won't see the live-action version of Mulan in theaters until 2020, but Disney has given us plenty of tidbits about the new film to satisfy us during that long wait. Chinese actress Liu Yifei, who also goes by the name Crystal Liu, will play our favorite heroine who isn't afraid to get down to business. But who will be there to make a man out of Mulan? Although this rendition of the classic movie supposedly won't have musical numbers, Mulan's new love interest has been cast, and let's just say that I'm now down to join the Chinese army any time.
In another move separating itself from the original animated film, the upcoming Mulan will not recreate the character of Li Shang to play opposite Mulan. The Hollywood Reporter says that her new love interest will instead be a character named Chen Honghui, "a confident and ambitious recruit who joins Commander Tung's unit." So while Li Shang was essentially Mulan's boss in the army, it seems that Chen Honghui will be an inexperienced rookie alongside the disguised Mulan. I'll call that a win for equality!
New Zealand native Yoson An will play the new character, and if he's assigned any subtle moments of Li Shang's in this film, I vote for the shirtless workout. If we can't get the full "I'll Make a Man Out of You" number, we at least deserve that, right? But still, kudos to Disney for continuing to cast gold-star men for their live-action princes.
An is quite the hottie, and while he grew up in New Zealand, he was born in China, where the film is expected to partially film. An's Instagram has also closely documented his past movie projects, so if we have to wait another two years for Mulan, it looks like we can get a sneak peek through An's photos.
An has previously appeared in the HBO Asia series Grace and the upcoming thriller The Meg, but he'll likely reach a new level of fame following Mulan. Now that we know Chen Honghui doesn't have the demands of an army leadership position, I'd wager that he and Mulan will share quite sweet bonding moments throughout the film. Maybe the new film won't have the slow burn that the animated movie had between the leads, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the cute and cuddly side of An if that's what his character requires.
An joins a primarily Chinese cast, including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star Donnie Yen, who plays Mulan's mentor Commander Tung. Seeing as Mulan goes against her father, arguably her only true mentor, in the original film, it's interesting that the live-action version will introduce these adult figures. Additionally, the movie will even include Mulan's sister, played by Xana Tang. I'm definitely into the idea of Mulan having a girl around her own age to confide in.
We do have a sliver of hope to hold onto when it comes to the possibility of An singing. Although it was originally reported that the new movie would have no singing, director Niki Caro has hinted that music might still play a part in the story, telling Hollywood Reporter:
The live-action [movie] is based on that inspirational Chinese ballad and on the animated Disney classic. We're still exploring the role that music's going to play in it, but for sure there will be music.
Perhaps a love ballad for Chen then?
I'll definitely keep an eye on An's Instagram for any glimpses of the Mulan set in the future. Until then, I'll be wondering where the movie's comic relief will come from if it doesn't have a Mushu equivalent.
The live-action Mulan is in theaters on March 27, 2020.