Jan de Bont Will Direct Zhang Ziyi’s Mulan

Well, he’s not Chuck Russell, but he’ll do.

While previous reports on the Zhang Ziyi version of “Mulan” had Chuck Russell directing, the latest from THR has “Speed’s” Jan de Bont (left) officially boarding the independently financed, English-language production, which will star Ziyi as Hua Mulan, a young Chinese woman who joins China’s all-male army in place of her father in order to fight the country’s invaders. The character was first popularized in the West in the 1998 Walt Disney animated movie of the same name, and it’s quite the popular story in the East.

Speaking of Disney, despite previous reports, the Mickey Mouse club will have nothing to do with this live-action version of “Mulan”. Instead, the money will come from a joint venture consisting of Movie Plus Productions of Canada, Global Film Finance of the U.K., Beijing-based Bona International Film Group and SIMF Pictures.

“Mulan” will be shot entirely in English from a script by John Blickstead, and production is expected to commence this fall outside of Shanghai.

The idea behind shooting it in English with a notable Hollywood director, of course, is to sale the film to a Western audience. In that respect, Zhang Ziyi (below) is probably the best face to front this thing (she’s certainly easy enough on the eyes, natch), but it’ll be very interesting to see if it does, as it were, translate.