Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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Casting Coup Tuesdays: Mulan

If you've been to the movies, or if you're alive, then you're well aware of Disney's recent trend of remaking its catalogue of animated movies as live action films. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became Mirror Mirror; Sleeping Beauty was turned into the darker, more Maleficent-focused...Maleficent; Cinderella was stripped of its songs and became a sort go showcase for Cate Blanchett; The Jungle Book is on its way; and Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma "Hermione Granger" Watson, is currently shooting. Besides that, the studio has confirmed that Dumbo, somehow, is in the works, but the movie they told us to expect down the road may be the very one we want to see most.

I'm talking about Mulan.

(more after the jump)

Mulan, whose surname is either Fa or Hua, depending on the translation, is a Chinese folk hero whose story has been passed down through the centuries by poets, playwrights, memoirists (particularly Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior) -- and, of course, Disney. The 1998 film was nominated for an Oscar, spawned a direct-to-video sequel, and inspired a generation of kids, like myself, to be true to our hearts. Plus, I'm pretty sure without Mushu, Eddie Murphy doesn't get the Shrek gig, which got him a BAFTA Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor (true story!).While we may not get the drunken antics offered in the 1964 Chinese opera film Lady General Hua Mulan....

...we do get a heartwarming, funny, brilliant movie about courage and embracing your true self. Mulan, after all, is a woman who does not fit in with Ancient China's ideal of the blushing, silent female. When war comes to China and her ailing father is called up, Mulan steals his armor and disguises herself as a boy to fight in his place...and winds up saving all of freeking China. Like a boss.

So Disney, before you roll cameras, do consider the following....


The Matchmaker
originated by Miriam Margolyes

My Choice:
Margaret Cho
Reliably hilarious!

The Ancestor
Chief ancestor of the Fa family, hearing the prayers of his descendants so that he may protect them.
originated by George Takei

My Choice:

Jackie Chan
But of course, who else to play the all-wise overseer of the Fa family than China's biggest movie star himself?

Grandmother Fa

Mulan's feisty grandmother. Gifts her with Cri-kee, a lucky cricket who does not do so well with the matchmaker -- but perhaps that worked out best for Mulan, after all.
originated by June Foray

My Choice:

Tsai Chin
Because I remember how moved I was by her performance in The Joy Luck Club.

Fa Li

Mulan's mother. Concerned for her daughter.
originated by Freda Foh Shen

My Choice:

Joan Chen
Icon of Chinese and American cinema.

Fa Zhou

Mulan's father. Called to war, he is too ill to serve, but the law -- and his sense of honor -- demands his service anyway. It is for him that Mulan disguises herself as P'ing.
originated by Oh Soon-Tek

My Choice:

Tony Leung
Like the Ancestor, I wanted to use the biggest Chinese stars to serve as the patriarchal figures. Wouldn't you do all you can to make sure Leung stays home in bed?


General Li

The leader of Emperor's army. Leads a failed defense against Shan Yu.
originated by James Shigeta

My Choice:

Chow Yun-fat

The Emperor

Ruler of China. Probably Qin Shi Huang.
originated by Noriyuki "Pat" Morita

My Choice:

Choi Min-Sik
I think he actually resembles, somewhat, Qin Shi Huang.


Emperor's counsel and adviser to Shang. Does not think Shang is suited to the task of Captain, nor does he think a woman is suited to any task outside the household.
originated by James Hong

My Choice:

Chin Han
Though much more villainous in Marco Polo, his role there is quite similar to Chi-Fu. And he's quite good with a dry joke.



He tries. Wants a girl who's "paler than the moon, with eyes that shine like stars."
originated by Gedde Watanabe/Matthew Wilder

My Choice:

Randall Park


Big and warm-hearted. Wants a girl who can cook "beef, pork, chicken, MMMM."
originated by Jerry Tondo

My Choice:

Bobby Lee


Small and fiery. Wants a girl who'll "marvel at his strength, adore his battle scars."
originated by Harvey Fierstein

My Choice:

Jason Tobin


Shan Yu

Cruel, merciless leader of the Huns, returned to China to take the throne from the Emperor by force.
originated by Miguel Ferrer

My Choice:

Rick Yune
Established himself as an A-Plus villain in The Fast and the FuriousDie Another Day, Olympus Has Fallen....look, I don't need to list his bonafides. You know him.


A tiny dragon, former family guardian until a mistake cost him his job. But when the chips down -- and he destroys the actual Great Stone Dragon -- he takes it upon himself to help Mulan execute her charade.
originated by Eddie Murphy

My Choice:

Aaron Yoo
Probably a mo-cap performance.

Li Shang

Captain in the Army, newly-appointed by his father. But it's not mere nepotism -- he's a courageous and strong leader, understanding, merciful -- and so attractive, Grandmother Fa wants to sign up for the next war.
originated by B.D. Wong

My Choice:
Godfrey Gao
I've been a fan of his since The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. A very different role, of course, but he's got magnetism!

Fa Mulan

The legend herself, the farm girl who disguised herself as a boy, Ping, so that she could fight in her father's place. In a time -- and place -- where women were expected to remain seen and not heard, Mulan kicks ass and saves China. She is The Woman Warrior.
originated by Ming-Na Wen/Lea Salonga

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)

Ellen Wong
Because she deserves a lead role after being awesome in Scott Pilgrim and winning on The Carrie Diaries.

And what does your dream Mulan cast look like? Do share in the comments, and tune in next week, as we tackle Aladdin!

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Andrew K. said...

Lea Salonga for Fa Li!

Anonymous said...

I really wondered where they would go with this, and you've put some interesting faces forth!