Chinese actress Liu Yifei to play Hua Mulan

Liu Yifei.
Liu Yifei.

LOS ANGELES • China's Liu Yifei has beaten about 1,000 candidates to win the title role in Disney's upcoming live-action remake of Mulan.

The studio confirmed on Wednesday that the actress will play Hua Mulan, the girl who disguises herself as a man to join the army in place of her frail father, in a new version of the Chinese folk tale.

The Hollywood Reporter said Liu was found after a year-long search across five continents.

Casting directors were looking for a young ethnic Chinese woman who had martial arts skills, star quality and could speak English, the report said.

Liu, 30, fits the bill. The actress, who has been nicknamed "Fairy Sister" by the Chinese, spent part of her childhood in New York and has acted in English-language films, including 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom, opposite Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

The 1994 animated Mulan made US$304.3 million worldwide and received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.

The remake has been pencilled in for a 2019 release. It joins a string of live-action adaptations of Disney hits, including Beauty And The Beast this year and The Jungle Book last year.

Niki Caro - who helmed Whale Rider, the Oscar-nominated 2002 film about a Maori girl trying to assume leadership of her tribe - will direct.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese actress Liu Yifei to play Hua Mulan'. Print Edition | Subscribe