Disney announced yesterday that it will cast young Chinese actress Crystal Liu Yifei as the lead of its upcoming live-action film Mulan.
The movie, which will be released in 2019, tells the classic Chinese tale of a female warrior who, against all odds, joined the army to defend her country and her family.
We take a look at Liu’s rise to fame and why she’s perfect for the role.
Liu, who just turned 30 in August this year, already has a portfolio filled with Chinese period dramas. Her ethereal looks in those dramas have also earned her the nickname “Fairy Sister”.
Liu is dubbed as one of the New Four Dan Actresses alongside Yang Mi, Huang Shengyi and Wang Luodan. She has gained a strong fan base since joining showbiz in 2002 at the tender age of 15, starring in The Story of a Noble Family. One year later, veteran novelist Jin Yong, who’s known for his martial arts stories, cast Liu in the TV adaptation of his classic Demi Gods and Semi Devils.
Liu made her Hollywood breakthrough with The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), co-starring with kung fu veterans Jackie Chan and Jet Li. The film, loosely built on the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, was directed by Rob Minkoff. Liu was cast in another Hollywood blockbuster, Outcast , in 2014. She starred alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.
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From Chinese Paladin (2005) to The Return of the Condor Heroes(2006), Liu is used to playing female leads in action-packed Chinese period dramas. In her most recent film, Once Upon a Time, which showed in August, Liu plays an immortal woman chasing a love from a past life.
Apart from being an actress, Liu also had a brief singing career. She signed with Sony Music Entertainment and was sent to Japan for a year-long singing and dancing training programme. She has released one Chinese album and a Japanese album.
Liu has a strong fan following, with over 53 million fans on Weibo. Her relationship with K-drama star Song Seung-heon is being closely followed by fans and paparazzi. The couple met on the set of the romantic comedy, The Third Way of Love (2015), and started dating soon after.
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