Jan de Bont Directing the Live-Action 'Mulan' with Zhang Ziyi
by Ethan Anderton
September 5, 2010
Though Disney previously made an animated version in 1998 of the tale of the legendary female soldier, the House of Mouse has absolutely nothing to do with this new indie project coming straight out of China. THR reports director Jan de Bont (Speed, Twister) will direct an English-language live-action telling of Mulan, the story about the young female warrior named Hua Mulan who joins an all-male army. Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi will portray the title heroine first mentioned in a 6th century poem titled "The Ballad of Mulan" which was popularized around the world by Disney's musical telling of the ancient story. Doesn't sound bad.
Writer John Blickstead (who as far as I can tell, hasn't written anything previously) The film is set to start shooting this fall near Shanghai, but it's not clear as to what time period the story will take place. Since the story has been passed down through hundreds of years, it has taken place in several different time periods, the earliest of which being during the Northern Wei dynasty. Inspiration can be drawn from a novel written sometime during the Ming dynasty, but no details from the script are mentioned to give us an idea of the film's focus beyond the warrior herself. Either way, the story is one of China's most famous and was one of the first to question gender inequality, thus striking an important chord in the progression of their culture.
While Jan de Bont is quite the generic filmmaker, bringing Ziyi into the mix inspires a lot of excitement, and this could be a moment to shine for both of them. De Bont could maybe get some awards attention, and Ziyi may finally gain a bigger audience following outside of her Western homeland. For now count me intrigued, but I'd really like to find out some more details about the story itself before getting too excited. Thoughts?