Opinion | [UPDATED] 5 Asian Actresses Who I Think Should Play Mulan in the Live-Action “Mulan”

12:31 AM


Walt Disney Studios has just confirmed that they are developing a live-action movie of the 1998 animated movie, "Mulan". It will open in theaters on November 2, 2018! :D

Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek helming the script. They will be retelling the 1998 Disney animation, Mulan, which centers on Hua Mulan, a young woman who disguises herself as a man so she can take her father's place in the army and go to war. With the help of her dragon sidekick Mushu, she becomes a skilled warrior and, eventually, one of the country's greatest Chinese heroines.

After the movie came out, “Mulan” earned $304.3 million worldwide and earned various nominations. In addition, Mulan became one of the greatest role models for young girls.

I am one of those young girls who look up to Mulan because of her bravery, courage, spontaneity, and skills. Mulan was the only Disney princess who fought in a war and showed people that women can be as good in fighting as men. She is my role model---somebody that I always wanted to be. I love Mulan so much that when our cosplay group did a Disney Princesses cosplay shoot, I didn’t think twice of cosplaying Mulan.

Left to Right:
Photos by Peppy Salita, Chad Senga, Lian Tablan, and Niko Cruz

It has been my dream to see a live-action “Mulan” movie. So when I read the announcement that it’s going to happen, I was happy. However, the happiness disappeared a bit when I realized that Hollywood has a tendency to whitewash Asian live-action adaptations. Some of the examples are “Dragonball Evolution” and “Ghost in the Shell”, where the lead actors are white.

Right after I thought about this, I saw a news that fans are doing a petition not to whitewash Mulan. Then afterwards, rumors came out that the movie studio is considering Jennifer Lawrence as Mulan---and I’m like: SERIOUSLY?! WHY?! Mulan is obviously Chinese, so Hollywood should cast an Asian actress. Why can’t they cast an Asian actress, when there are so many out there who are talented and great at their craft?! Crazy! :(

But based on the Oh My Disney article, "The studio is launching a worldwide casting search for a Chinese actress to play Mulan."

If that is so, then I am happy they plan to get a Chinese actress. I really didn’t like the rumor, which is why I decided to create my own list of Asian actresses who I think will play the role of Mulan well. Below are my personal choices on who can play the real-life Mulan:

5. Li Bingbing

Photo by tranquiltirades.wikia.com

Not many people are familiar with Li Bingbing. But maybe for geeks and pop culture fans, she is knows as Ada Wong in the “Resident Evil: Retribution” and Su Yueming in “Transformers: Age of Extinction”. In both movies, she portrayed bad-ass women who can fight on their own and kick the villains’ butts without any problem. That is who Mulan is and I think Li can also portray her well, since she is used to playing her own version of women fighters. I actually loved her as Ada Wong and I would love to see her as Mulan. :)

4. Karen Fukuhara

Photo by hollywood.com

After seeing Karen Fukuhara portray Katana in “Suicide Squad”, I knew she’s an Asian actress to watch out for. Her acting and fighting scenes were so impressive that I want to see more of her portraying Katana in other DC movies. I feel that she needs to be given more roles that show off her acting and fighting chops. Then, I learned that she is a martial arts champion and did almost all of her stunts in the movie. So I guess, it would be easier for her to play Mulan because she is a warrior herself. 

3. Rinko Kikuchi

Photo by wall.alphacoders.com

Rinko Kikuchi is known as Mako Mori from blockbuster hit “Pacific Rim”. Her character is an officer of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps J-Tech division and a Ranger in training. As the movie progresses, we saw how independent, brave, and strong Mako is, which are the traits that Mulan has.

I think Rinko would be very comfortable in portraying Mulan because she has played a woman who is a fighter. One of the best things to come out of “Pacific Rim” is Mako because Rinko has proven that she can be talented and nail an action scene at the same time. Come on, she’s an Oscar nominee, she can definitely play Mulan in an instant if the role is given to her.

Oh, and just a trivia: Rinko was also a fan favorite to portray Major Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action “Ghost in the Shell”. But well, sadly, we all know who got the part.

2. Jamie Chung

Photo by disney.wikia.com

Jamie Chung is one of my favorite Asian actresses because she has great acting skills. I didn’t like “Dragonball Evolution”, but I loved her there as an actress. I wanted to see her in a role where she can kick-ass while showing her acting skills. Then came Mulan.

You might say, “What? Mulan? When?” No, seriously. She portrayed Mulan in “Once Upon a Time”, so why wouldn’t she be on this list, right? Jamie is already familiar with the character and she portrayed Mulan very well in the ABC TV series. I really love her there and I would like Jamie to extend her Mulan acting in the live-action movie. :D

This is also her chance to remove herself from the Dragonball movie and show everyone that she can be great at fighting the bad guys.

1. Zhang Ziyi

Photo by www.speakerscorner.me

Many years ago, there have been rumors that there will be a live-action Mulan and one of the actresses that people wanted for the title role was Zhang Ziyi. And I couldn’t agree more.

She is perfect for Mulan---from the looks all the way to her fighting skills. Zhang was recognized for her role in “Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon” in 2000. She mentioned that she doesn’t know Chinese martial arts. However, she used her dancing skills to do the fighting scenes in the movie, which were really awesome.

Zhang continued to show her dancing and fighting skills in “Rush Hour 2” and “House of the Flying Daggers”, which earned her more recognition in Hollywood. I’m sure with her dancing and fighting backgrounds, she will be able to portray Mulan well in the live-action movie. And besides, she still looks young for her age---so it will be easy for her to be the Chinese warrior.

Bonus: Ming-Na Wen

Photo by www.scifistream.com

Before she became Agent Melinda May in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, she was Mulan. Or rather, she was the English voice of Fa Mulan in the 1998 animated film. I have watched “Mulan” so many times and I really love Ming-Na Wen’s voice acting there. In every scene, she portrayed Mulan’s emotions and feelings so well through her wonderful voice. In fact, that hasn’t changed at all, as she still voices Mulan in games and TV shows, with Disney’s “Sofia the First” as her recent guest appearance.

So, if you ask me, of course I want Ming-Na Wen to be Mulan in the live-action adaptation---especially when I see her fighting the bad guys in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. However, if Hollywood decides to cast Asian actresses for the live-action “Mulan”, they may opt for someone younger. No offense, Ming-Na Wen looks really young for her age and, as mentioned above, she still voices Mulan in other mediums. I really see her as the ultimate Mulan.

But if Hollywood doesn’t get her, I would want Ming-Na Wen to still be part of the live-action movie. The only role I could think of is Mulan’s mother. It would be great for Ming-Na Wen to be Mulan’s mother because she would really be part the story. This is also a perfect way to give tribute to her Mulan role and the animated movie itself. If Hollywood decides to include her in the cast, then I would be more than happy to watch the live-action movie adaptation. Seriously, put Ming-Na Wen!

I am hoping and hoping that Hollywood won’t whitewash the live-action movie of “Mulan”. They won’t have a hard time looking for Asian actresses because there are a lot of bankable ones that are talented and deserve to be recognized in Hollywood.


Do you agree with my list of Asian actresses who should play Mulan in the live-action movie? Did I miss anyone? If you have other Asian actresses in mind or have thoughts about anything in my blog post, leave a comment below. You can also socialize with me in FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

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  1. I don't know why but I seriously rooting for Jamie Chung!!! 💙

    1. Same here, I am so rooting for her. Especially when she already played Mulan in "Once Upon a Time"! :D


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