Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book ... they're all Disney animated classics recently adapted into live action films. But none had us as excited as the news announced yesterday that the next to receive the treatment will be 1998 animated feature, Mulan. Because, hello? Asian actors and actresses: it's your turn to shine!
There is a lot of concern, following Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Aloha, Scarlett Johansson as The Major in Ghost in the Shell (and other examples of Hollywood whitewashing roles that would make sense being played by an Asian actor or actress), that Mulan would be the same. So we thought we'd do casting agents a favour.
Here are the stars we think should form the cast of this upcoming Mulan remake.
For the title character, we need someone who's versatile enough to carry serious drama and comedy, and able to be convincingly feminine and masculine.
There are quite a few Asian actresses who could handle the role of Mulan, but our favourites are Katie Leung, Gemma Chan, and Jamie Chung.
Fa Zhou, Mulan's father, is loving, kind, honourable and strong. Who better to play this family man, who was willing to die to protect home and country, than Donnie Yen or the legendary Jet Li?
Mulan's mother isn't a very impactful character in the original 1998 animation. She's a rather stereotypical, constantly concerned wife and mother who wants her daughter to marry well and her husband to take care of his bad leg. But in the right hands, and played by the right actress, Fa Li could be a wonderful character and pillar for the family in the live-action remake.
In honour of the animation, Ming Na-wen, the voice actress for Mulan, would make a fantastic Fa Li; then again, so would Lucy Liu, who's as good in comedy as she is in dramas.
Don't let her age fool you, Grandmother Fa is one of the funniest characters in the movie! For this role, we need someone who can make us all want Grandma Fa as our grandma, and Lucille Soong of Fresh Off the Boat and Freaky Friday can more than deliver on that. An awesome alternative would be local actress Law Lan, who may not prominent in English language films, but how funny would it be to have Grandma Fa force her family and everyone around her to speak only in Cantonese or Putonghua?
Tough guy with the heart of gold, a son desperate to make his father proud, a commanding captain of an army ... with muscles to spare. Just ... watch the clip! For Shang, we need someone believable as a military officer, but also someone still a little boyish and, erm, hot. May we suggest Godfrey Gao of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones or Daniel Henney of Big Hero 6?
Fussy, funny and faithful advisor to the Chinese Emperor, Chi Fu may be pompous and unsuited to the military camp and front line to which he's assigned, but you can't help but like him a little. How could anyone but Chow Yun-fat play him?
The three friends
Once she successfully disguises herself as a man and joins the army, Mulan is quickly befriended - after some initial bullying - by three men. The first two are Yao, a brutish tough guy, and his rail-thin friend, Ling. We'd love to see John Cho as Yao, Will Lun-yee as Ling!
Finally, there is Chien Po, a zen heavyweight who loves food and keeping everyone calm. For this role, we'd love to see the lovable Taylor Wily from Hawaii Five-O.
The villain in Mulan is humorous, cunning and power-hungry. He also has some of the best lines in the movie (as all villains do). Given his skilful dramatic delivery and comedic timing (as well as almost identical cheekbones to the animated character), Daniel Dae Kim, would rock this role.
Another honourable mention from the original animation! It only makes sense for George Takei to play the Emperor in the live-action remake. Takei played the First Ancestor in the original film.
The dreaded and dreadful matchmaker, "scarier than the undertaker", is an unintentionally funny character. She takes her job, producing marriage-worthy brides, super seriously, but falls victim to slapstick comedy courtesy of Mulan. To portray seriousness in the middle of so much comedy, no woman can match Margaret Cho or Sandra Oh.
No, no, no. Don't even bother. Eddie Murphy can stay as Mushu! Anyone who disagrees will bring dishonour upon yourself, your family, and your cow!