Donnie Yen Confirms Starring in Disney’s “Mulan”

Since Disney announced Crystal Liu (劉亦菲) starring as the title character in Mulan <花木蘭> last November, another big star has joined the cast. Donnie Yen (甄子丹) is confirmed to star as Crystal’s martial arts master, Commander Tung. Excited fans are eager to see if Donnie and Crystal will have explosive fighting scenes together.

Donnie had impressed Disney after working with them in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Although the studio approached him for Mulan, Donnie was initially hesitant about his schedule as he had already committed to several movies, including the currently filming Ip Man 4 <葉問4>.  But Disney persuaded Donnie with their sincerity and offered to postpone his scenes until he is free. Since Donnie also likes how Mulan speaks about equality between men and women, he accepted Disney’s offer. Additional details about his role cannot be revealed as he had signed a confidentiality agreement with Disney.

As for Crystal, she impressed with her strong audition among 1000 actresses who tried out for Mulan. The 30-year-old also has an enormous following in Mainland China. Undergoing high-intensity training for her role, Crystal is excited to play the female warrior, “I love Mulan’s courage and fearlessness.”

Mulan is produced by Bill Kong (江志強), best known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon <臥虎藏龍> and Hero <英雄>,  and directed by New Zealand director Niki Caro. The movie is expected to be released in North America on March 27, 2020.

Aside from Mulan, Disney will have live film adaptations of its classic: Aladdin, The Lion King, Pinocchio, and Dumbo.


This article is written by Jayne for

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  1. I did say this in another article; this is like between a frozen face and a cold face. This will be one “expressive” movie.

    1. @funnlim I trust Disney will make a good live version of “Mulan”. Donnie is not known for his expressive acting skills, but it is nice to have him to make the action scenes more exciting.

      No doubt Crystal has a huge fanbase, but I don’t really find her convincing as Mulan. She looks too delicate. But the casting decision is to appeal to the Mainland box office.

      1. @jayne I also think Cyrstal has a delicate feel about her. The Mulan I have in mind is a tom boy. Zhao Wei was excellent choice then. Is Donnie playing the male lead? Sorry I think he is too old for that role. Someone who can look 30s and manly IMO is more appropriate. Unless they take away the romance bit. I think.they are counting on Donnie’s popularity to attract the western audience? It will be box office in China. Two big names.

      2. @jayne As long as not Jing Tian.

        I think for all my jokes about her acting, I think she is perfectly cast in the sense she has the looks of a disney princess. Beautiful youthful slim. No question. I think she can be Mulan. Because who says Mulan has to be tomboy? She can be like those delicate scholarly guys. Mulan here could be an educated but poor girl. Makes sense.

        I don’t think Donnie Yen is the love interest. Between them is the age of an adult child, so come on! There will be a Li Shang. Question is who? Donnie is probably the commander with Li Shang a step lower.

        Does Crystal have such a big fanbase??

      3. @funnlim Wonder why Jing Tian get to be in so many Hollywood big budget movies. Because of her proficiency in English?

      4. @kidd She’s not that proficient. Am sure there are others. I think connection is more like it. Any boyfriends?

      5. @funnlim @kidd Definitely connections, but not necessarily boyfriends. Rumor has it that Jing Tian is from a “powerful” family in China (think government-related) and that is why she has been able to get the opportunities she has. The media has been commenting for a long time already on her “flaunting of tremendous wealth” that doesn’t seem to be in-line with her income, as all of the films she was in bombed at the box office so it’s not like she is a “highly sought after” actress bringing in millions of dollars each project (the government connections were “confirmed” in many people’s eyes awhile back ago when some media outlets and discussion forums were “mysteriously forced” to remove topics discussing her background on their sites — a very common China government tactic). Supposedly because of those connections, she has Dalian Wanda Group backing her, which explains why she is in all those Hollywood productions, since almost all of them have Legendary Pictures as one of the “executive producers” (Legendary is U.S./Hollywood-based production company owned by Wanda Group since 2016).

      6. @llwy12

        Thanks for the info. I do like Legendary Pictures’ productions. Most of the films the company involved in are fantasy films, which is a genre I like. As long as it continues making entertaining fantasy films, I don’t mind the token Chinese actors. Just don’t compromise on the integrity of the story-line.
        I hope Warcraft made enough money to get part 2.

    1. @m0m0 oh god, no! He’s her father’s age >__<) And with the two of them frozen face off, they can’t act in love together?

      1. @littlefish Lol. I actually wanted to see Donnie act as Shane because he can fight for sure I don’t think age are matter this day as long the movie turns out good then it should not have any problems with it. I wouldn’t say he’s more like a father to her maybe an uncle or cousin?

      2. @cutie777 dude, if he’s like an uncle that’s kinda the same level as father xD cousin….. erh… 20yrs difference kinda cousin? XD Idk… I don’t think I like Donnie Yen in any love related scene lol (like showing love chemistry lol)

  2. Strong audition among 1000 actresses? What a joke. During their casting call they specifically only wanted girls to be between the ages of 18-20 how did she even get in? She was already around 27-28 that is just unfair to other actresses above the age of 20. Seems more like nepotism to me.

    1. @holiday Like I posted in one of the earlier articles from last year about this topic, the 3 criteria that the production team had in making their casting decision for the character of Mulan were: ability to speak English, martial arts skills, and “star quality.” There was no age requirement, at least not officially – most of the actresses who tried out for the role were actually over 20 years of age. I also don’t think that Crystal Liu is a good fit for the role, but like @jayne said, the decision was made mostly to satisfy the Mainland market.

      As for Donnie Yen – he’s a good choice in that he satisfies all the criteria and then some (though of course, the acting part is subjective – it sounds like they were looking more at the “star quality” piece in terms of popularity rather than acting skill).

      I’m curious as to who else they are going to cast. To be honest, I’m not a fan of Disney’s live film adaptations / remakes (nothing beats the animated classics in my opinion), but I do hope they will respect the culture and not try to whitewash the movie like Hollywood is notorious for doing.

  3. Donnie is playing the role of Commander Tung.. does that mean there will be no Li Shang in this movie???

  4. Can somebody please name at least 1 (I can’t even find one) Chinese actress right now that is not “frozen face”?

    Nini is currently one of the only actress I bet didn’t do plastic surgery that would’ve been a pretty good match for action film, but I doubt she have good skill in fighting. She might be suitable for modern boxing, and doing high kicks wearing black leather suits but I’m talking about more traditional-like kung fu (although not sure if Mulan disney will do that too). However, although she is natural she is also frozen face as well. I might just have a personal preference on Nini’s face but then again, the skills, and it’s not as if LYF is not pretty. Even the cartoon Mulan has a very good soft side too, she is very feminine on the outside and just have a very strong personality.

    Donnie Yen is a veteran actor, up to this day he is still natural, The cold face was for portraying his serious characters. He’d played playful characters in his younger days I don’t think we need to disrespect his acting skills. With his age, should he go play like a young boy being giggly? Lol…We might not like him as a real person but he is very skillful to be fair. I’ll say the fresh young meat boys today are all too pretty and concern about their soft skin and cannot even act with a correct cold face. They absolutely have no (esp. fighting) skills on top of that. Ok maybe it’s unfair to comare them to fight like top notch Donnie and Jet Li, but can they at least please fight like a Fu Er Kang? Even Wallace Huo acting like a cold Shi Fu Bai Zi Hua annoyed me, I really don’t understand why people are liking those kind of cold men: Yuwen Yue, Yue Hua, Yin Xue. etc.

    Liu Yifei is professional too, her skills match up with the roles she play. When she played Zhao Ling’er, she did not have a frozen face. All the hate actually came from her being way too beautiful. And, her character kept rejecting and dumping stinky punk Li Xiao Yao while he was shipped badly with Yueru. So her character was a bit problematic to some people, although the character was actually really reasonable and justful enough (Li Xiao Yao was the big flirt. And, why stick around when there’s somebody so much better chasing him uninvitingly?). Her acting was really good, to be fair, so many actresses up to today still wish to have the same fairy gas they couldn’t imitate sweet smiles, beautiful gaze, and the thoughtful and wise attitude. LYF only 2 dramas were good, lasted her eternal fame, but almost the films were pretty boring, the plot and scripts were just not creative. I only liked Forbidden Kingdom. But it’s not like all movies these days are so good and hers were all bad, ALL movies today are very, very, very boring. So that is to say, it’s the productions fault for being non creative. And she went for the movie route instead of dramas. But, same thing too, there was also no good dramas out there as well. Even CP3 was not as good as CP1 in my view, and CP5 was worse.

    1. @davy hold up here, did you just list Yin Xue as the cold type? He’s far from cold, he’s not like Ye Hua or BZH at all, those two barely cracks a smile in the drama with Ye Hua only smile at BQ, but Yin Xue, his name might mean snow, but he’s far from being the cold type >_>

      Also Donnie, is very good at kungfu, no one disputes that, but his face is frozen because of the Botox, being cold just conveniently fit with the frozen face lol.

      With LYF, I just find her boring and bland, not even talking about how good her acting is, but she makes me disinterested in the movie she’s in, the character she as. To this day, CP1 is still a bad memory for me, the pace was so slow, and you have these two gorgeous people that has no chemistry with one another, and boring as hell. I tried like 5-8ep in, and I think I fall asleep and can’t remember much about it but it was slow as a baby turtle on the first day of its hatching (if you don’t know how turtle hatch, they break their shells, then stay in there for a whole day before move out of their shell, then stay in the nest until everyone is ready to move out)!

      And I love her look, I love many other subpar at acting actresses because of their look, too. But LYF has not able to draw me to continue watching her. So you can’t say people don’t like her because they are jealous of her look.

    2. @davy I personally like Dilraba, her acting is not bad (not really good either, I know). She has a dance background so can do fight scenes as we saw in The Kings Woman and The Flame’s Daughter. Too bad she’s not fluent in English or I think she would be good for the role

  5. Don’t understand all the hype and wishlist for a “matching” Li Shang and for a romantic storyline. Mulan is about respecting and accepting women as an equal. It’s female sticking to the male dominance. Even in Disney version, there was no lovey-dovey. Only towards the end 1 min where Shang came to speak with Mulan as man and woman. It is probably one of the first Disney that are about love for family, country and brother-in-arms instead of romantic mess. So please don’t change that…>_<

    It's very irritating that everything and everyone focuses on just one type of "love."

    *hops off soap box*

    1. @jjwong 🙂 good point. I think we are only talking about love, as it’s a typical story line for Disney, even though Mulan is not a typical disney story, but many many drama adaptations of Mulan has been focused heavily on love. So naturally we talk about it 🙂

    2. @jjwong It will be part love story as it will have a disney ending where the girl gets everything. Career, recognition, respect and love. I quite like that.

      1. @funnlim Yea, Disney is Disney. They’ll always have happily ever after ending. And yes, Mulan did have same cookie cutter storyline, BUT it did not emphasize on romantic love. Again, it is about duty, honor and respect. I like a good hopeless romantic or chic-flic as any next person, but not all HAVE to have lovey-dovey tagline.

        @littlefish that’s why I rank Disney Mulan much higher than other adaptations. Lol. It’s short and concise with one focus: serving for her father. Then along the way, she had personal growth and became/surpass the norm and the men. She wasn’t doing out of love for a hunk, lol.

        Anyways, I look less and less forward to this live action 🙁 Pity.

      2. @jjwong

        Do you know that the original story concept of Disney Mulan has Mulan following her fiancé to the battle field? Then someone in the production team (maybe the producer or scriptwriter) who has a daughter felt that the the original story of Mulan going to battle for her father is more touching and shows good family value. So, they follow back the story concept in the Mulan poem and the final product became the Mulan cartoon many loves. 😀

      3. @kidd Haha. I did not know that. If Disney went with that storyline, I would’ve boycotted it! I’m so glad they didn’t lol.

        Disney version we know is what it is. Their live adaption for Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast 99% resembled the cartoons. I feel or hoped the Mulan is closely adapted from its cartoon version too because I really liked Disney cartoon version, lol. I seemed to be the minority though because a lot of people, from comments I read on and off Jayne, have been 1) Shang better handsome, 2) awe at star power of the cast, and 3) Crystal is a wooden actress. I’m on #3 bandwagon too, but seeing the rest of the cast… they’re not known to “emote” either…

        BTW, there are tweets confirmed that there will be NO Li Shang and NO singing. NO SINGING… wt eff :'( So this is more like a long distance remake of the huge bombed and utterly stupid Great Wall movie with Andy Lau and Matt Damon. Mulan has one-up though: all (somehow) Asian actors and actresses (thus far).

  6. just read Gong Li and Jet Li has been cast or may be cast or probably could be cast. Now we lacking handsome hero and a main villain.

    And we do need a handsome hero. No disney film if not handsome hero. Who’s mushu? Any mushu?

    1. @funnlim I wonder if Eddie Murphy will consider doing Mushu again. Mushu parts were some of the best in the movie. Unless if Disney wants the overall movie to be more serious and wants to take those parts out

  7. i actually think gillian would fit the mulan role better than crystal. gillian’s got that handsome aura, crystal’s got a very feminine girl aura.

    1. @m0m0
      You mean Gillian Chung right? You are correct though. Apart the minor issues of Gillian being rather old, scandal linked, terrible acting and not a movie star… she will be perfect for the Mulan role in every way..

      1. @jimmyszeto
        Yeah I know. I’ve always thought she has a very handsome aura that could pull off any kung fu heroine role. Too bad they didn’t do the movie five years earlier.

      2. @m0m0
        Hey…read again. I was being sarcastic. You couldn’t have named a worse possible actress than Gillian Chung for the role Mulan. Basically mentioning her in the same sentence as Mulan is quite embarrassing. If Gillian was cast, i’m sure the stars that have currently signed would just pack their bags and leave the movie set…

    2. @m0m0 I love Gillian Chung a lot more than Crystal, but she can’t act either 🙁 she looks absolutely gorgeous on screen but everything felt off >_< I can’t put my finger on it but yea. Between crystal and Gillian, I would pick Gillian because she’s indeed very beautiful, when she smiles, it makes the screen spark lol!

      If they have Donnie, Jet Li and Gong Li, they might as well just pick a good actress who can act? Like star war with the new girl (I can’t say she can act as I haven’t seen them, Star Wars is not my thing, but my partner and his friends have no complain lol)

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