The ancient tale of Mulan will be brought to the big screen once again in an English-language 3D film that is being funded by Walt Disney Pictures and produced by Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi.

Disney – which released an animated version of the story back in 1998 –  has agreed to invest $100 million into the project, which will be directed by Charles Russel (The Scorpion King).  Not too shockingly, Zhang is set to star in the lead role as well.

Mulan tells the story of the titular young woman, whose elderly father is ordered to return to military duty when external forces invade their Chinese homeland.  The spirited gal chooses to instead impersonate a man and take her father’s place in the army – an act for which she could be executed, should she be discovered.

Help and a potential love interest arrives in the form of General Li, who risks his own life to protect Mulan and prevent her from being exposed.  Singer-actor Wang Lee Hom is being pursued for the live-action role.

Ziyi is best known in the U.S. for her turns in martial arts films like Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s Hero and House of Flying Daggers (see below).  It doesn’t exactly require a stretch of the imagination to envision her in the role of the lady warrior, Mulan.

Unlike the in-development Cinderella and Tinker Bell movies, this live-action revision of an animated classic did not originate with Disney but was brought to them by Ziyi.  What effect this will have on the development of the latest cinematic treatment of the Mulan legend is not clear at this point.

This is still a significant financial investment – even for the likes of the Mouse House – so I wouldn’t expect the final product to be especially gritty or adult-oriented.  It will most likely have some lavish production values and be filled with PG-13 action sequences (a la Pirates of the Caribbean).

Production on Mulan is tentatively scheduled to begin in China this October.

Source: Channel NewsAsia