“Monster Hunter”, the new creature feature based on the popular video game, is reportedly being pulled from theatres in China due to a scene that numerous Chinese viewers have deemed to be racist.
In the film, reuniting “Resident Evil” director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich, she plays Captain Artemis, who leads her team when they find themselves in a dangerous new world populated by huge, terrifying monsters who are immune to their weapons.
According to Variety, the trouble began when a brief video of the offending scene was posted on social media.
The scene features two soldiers, one white and one Asian, driving in a jeep. “Look at my knees!” shouts the Asian soldier, asking. “What kind of knees are these?” He then answers his own question. “Chi-nese!”
As Variety points out, that groaner of a joke — which recalls a racist schoolyard taunt — was made even worse in the subtitles. “To localize the joke, translators made the dialogue a reference to a Chinese colloquialism about how men must have dignity and not kneel down easily.
“Men have gold under their knees, and only kneel to the heavens and their mother,’ the saying goes in rough translation, implying that any time a man kneels, it should be an occasion precious as gold,” Variety explained.
This led many Chinese viewers to believe the line, in English, was an insult aimed at the Chinese people by implying that Chinese should be kneeling before Americans.
Within hours, the hashtag “Monster Hunter Insults China” was blowing on on Weibo, China’s social media app. Meanwhile, viewer ratings grew increasingly lower as anger toward the film spread.
When some of that anger began to be directed at Capcom, manufacturer of the video game upon which the film is based, Capcom Asia issued a statement on Weibo to put some distance between itself and the movie.
“After learning your opinions about the movie ‘Monster Hunter,’ we’ve collected everyone’s ideas and reported the situation to the relevant companies,” the statement read, adding that the company “hopes to continue to live up to your expectations in the future…”
Germany’s Constantin Film has since issued an apology and will remove the scene from the movie.
“Sincerely apologizes to Chinese audiences for a line of dialogue contained in an early scene of ‘Monster Hunter’. There was absolutely no intent to discriminate, insult or otherwise offend anyone of Chinese heritage. Constantin Film has listened to the concerns expressed by Chinese audiences and removed the line that has led to this inadvertent misunderstanding,” the apology says according to Deadline.
Jin, who came to prominence as a defending champion on BET’s popular albeit discontinued “Freestyle Friday” program, addressed the backlash in a video on Instagram.
“I felt a need to address this situation because what is at stake is not my career but something even more dear to my heart — my roots,” Jin said. “I’ve spent the last 20 years using my platform to embrace and be a positive voice for my community. I am and will always be proud of my heritage.”
Director Paul W.S. Anderson also released a statement, published by Deadline.
“I am absolutely devastated that a line from our movie, ‘Monster Hunter’, has offended some audience members in China,” the statement begins. “I apologize for any anxiety or upset that this line and its interpretation caused.”
“‘Monster Hunter’ was made as fun entertainment and I am mortified that anything within it has caused unintentional offense,” Anderson added. “We have respectfully removed the line from the movie. It was never our intention to send a message of discrimination or disrespect to anyone. To the contrary — at its heart our movie is about unity.”