Mulan (Yifei Liu)
Although, her “origin” was already mentioned in our former Mulan blog entry, let us add that - as opposed to the animated version - in the remake Mulan is not an only child but she has a sister, and Mulan’s “male name” is Hua Chun. However, not only her name but also her clothes are different. Costume designer Bina Daigeler (Volver, Biutiful) designed the armour, as many as seven different outfits, for the protagonist to perfectly match Yifei Liu’s motion in various scenes. This means that the clothes were made with different structure (and material) e.g. for riding, for the fighting scenes and for depicting the “beautiful heroine”, and each piece is the result of detailed handwork. Therefore, we should also pay attention to these wonderful costumes, no matter how dynamic actions the film offers.
The Emperor (Jet Li)
As the Rourans are threatening with attack from the north, the Emperor orders that one man from every family must join the army in order to oppose the conquerors. The Emperor of the new Mulan movie is not only a ruler who is worried about his people but also a formidable fighter, impersonated by Jet Li, one of the greatest warriors of Asian movies. This is good news to many movie-goers all the more since he returned to the movie world in this film and role after a four-year break. However, if you want to see him in a spectacular fighting scene, you have to wait until the very end of the film. According to the interviews made with him, his role was to sit on his beautifully decorated throne, for the most part with a straight face, making sure that no emotions can be read from him, no matter what news he gets. Talking about outfits: it is also worth looking at his costume as it is also decorated with rich, hand-made embroidery, gilt at some places as - according to the Chinese tradition - gold was the dominant colour of the ruling dynasties.
Commander Tung (Donnie Yen)
Commander Tung, played by Donnie Yen, is the head of the Imperial Army where Mulan is recruited. Tung’s character is partly based on Li Shang’s role in the animated film with the difference that this time it is not him who represents the romantic side-plot of the story. He is rather like a mentor, who is honest and respectable, and at the same time an excellent soldier and fighter. Director Niki Caro said that Donnie Yen was using the sword so professionally and so quickly when shooting a scene that it had to be repeated in a slower motion. This was the only way it was perceivable what he was actually doing. It is an interesting fact that Jet Li and Donnie Yen are very good friends in life, they have played together in several movies (e.g. Hero, Once Upon a Time in China 2.), and this is continued in Mulan.
Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee)
As it has already been mentioned about the new Mulan movie, it is not Shan-Yu and the Huns but the Rourans and their leader, Bori Khan who attack China from the north and threaten the Emperor and the country’s peace. According to the records, the Rourans lived in the steppes of Inner Asia in the 5th-6th centuries - more or less when the Mulan story also took place - and they mainly dealt with shepherding. However, according to the new Mulan film, it was a fighting nation whose leader, Bori Khan wanted to take blood revenge and, according to the trailer, he seems like a truly cruel character. The actor, 53-year-old Jason Scott Lee (who became well-known in 1993 in the film entitled Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story) went through a spectacular change for the role. The allegedly very nice actor had to be turned into a merciless, scarred, battle-hardened figure, so Lee had to go on a strict diet and training and the skilful makeup artists put true-to-life scars on his face.
Honghui (Yoson An)
If the animated film’s commander and mentor character Li Shang is carried on by Tung, someone else has to take the romantic side-plot. This role is taken by the new character, Honghui, who is not only young and ambitious but is also Mulan’s important ally in the new movie. The Chinese-born Yoson An, who plays Honghui, has lived in New Zealand since a very young age, so no wonder that he quickly struck a common chord with director Niki Caro, who is also a New Zealander. In fact, this young actor (28) speaks several languages (also fluent Mandarin and Cantonese) and he is also skilled in numerous martial arts, so the fighting soldier’s role was probably not strange to him either.
Xianniang (Gong Li)
The witch, played by the legendary Chinese actress, Gong Li, takes a totally new role in the new Mulan movie. She is basically an ally to Bori Khan, the commander of the attacking Rouran army, and she is endowed with a special power (e.g. in one of the trailers we can see her turn into a bird). As Mulan has always been interesting because it is about a girl who succeeds as a single woman among men in a patriarchal society and in a state of war, it is an exciting question what role the film makers gave the character of the witch, who is definitely pretty, clever and seems to be an extremely good fighter. Well, if everything goes well, we will soon get an answer to this question as well.
Check out the exclusive behind-the-scenes video below to see how Mulan’s action scenes were made, why it’s worth watching in ScreenX format, and how Hungarian celebrities feel about this spectacular, exciting film.