Beijing-based Starlight International has announced that it will produce and invest in a live-action version of Chinese classic folk story Mulan, set to star Chinese actress Vicky Zhao Wei (Red Cliff).

Jingle Ma will direct the film which is scheduled to start shooting in mid-February. The budget of the film was not disclosed but it is understood that it will be over $7.3m (RMB50m).

Another live-action Mulan film is also in development, to be co-produced by Canada's Movie Plus, China Film Group and Xinhua Media Entertainment, with Arclight Films on board as sales agent.

Attending the press conference in Beijing today (Feb 10), Shanghai Film Group chairman Wang Tianyun said the state-owned studio would be involved in the project although two companies are still in talks on the form of co-operation.

Also joining the cast are Chen Kun (Painted Skin, Playboy Cop), who will play general Li Guang, a close friend of Mulan; Xu Jiao (CJ7), who will portray young Mulan; Jaycee Chan (The Sun Also Rises), and Russian singer Vitas.

Starlight's Mulan will be shot mainly in Hebei province and north-west China's desert areas. Shooting is scheduled to wrap in summer and the release date of the film is set for late 2009.

Starlight, which owns a music label, artist management firm and production company, is a media and entertainment group under the real estate conglomerate Fortune United Group. In addition to Mulan, the company is producing Chongqing-based contemporary romantic comedy Chongqing Beauty.