A Expensive Quip Angers Chinese language Moviegoers, and a Movie Will get Yanked


Two American soldiers share a strange joke in a film scene that has upset part of the Chinese cinema audience.

“Look at my knees!” A soldier played by Jin Au-Yeung, a Sino-American rapper named MC Jin, bumps into the open back of a military vehicle. “What kind of knees are these?”

A moment later he answers his own question: “Chi-nese.”

The scene caused a stir in China, one of the largest film markets in the world, and was perhaps the most important after a pandemic that has closed theaters around the world.

The movie Monster Hunter, an action film based on a popular video game, was pulled out of Chinese cinemas by its distributor, who promised to cut the scene.

Critics in China wrote online that the dialogue was offensive and read it as an indication of racist mockery in the playground that implies that people of Asian origin are dirty.

On Sunday, Constantin Film, a German company that co-produced the film, apologized to the audience.

“There was absolutely no intention of discriminating, insulting, or otherwise insulting anyone with Chinese heritage,” it said.

The company said it “listened to the concerns of the Chinese audience and removed the line that led to the accidental misunderstanding.”

Monster Hunter was released in China on Friday, December 25th, three weeks prior to its US release date. However, by the end of the weekend, there were no more tickets to be found on Maoyan, a Chinese ticketing application.

The film was also produced by Sony Pictures and Tencent, the Chinese internet conglomerate with a growing presence in films. No one responded to requests for comments.

The fate of “Monster Hunter” shows China’s growing power in the film industry. Nearly $ 10 billion in tickets were sold last year, according to government figures, and industry experts predict it will soon overtake the American market as the largest in the world.

The global pandemic has accelerated the trend. China’s cinemas gradually reopened as the country contained the coronavirus within its borders. In the US, on the other hand, studios plan to release films via streaming services as infections spread and deaths increase.

However, China can be a complicated market. While its avid moviegoers love “The Transformers” and other big-budget American films, studios must control Beijing’s strict censorship, desire to build a domestic film industry, and cultural differences that can put audiences off or off.

Large studios have teamed up with Chinese partners and sprayed their cast with local actors, but efforts don’t always get rewarded. In 2017, critics accused “The Great Wall,” an action film with Matt Damon, of whitewash. You have said that in other films, Chinese-American actors have been dropped in scenes as apparent after-thoughts.

The search for Chinese audiences is especially strained as the sense of nationalism spreads online and is sometimes stimulated by official Chinese media. Other companies, including Mercedes-Benz and the Marriott hotel chain, have also come under pressure to apologize to China after online critics or state media criticized their advertising or other actions.

“Chinese audiences can’t stand to keep an eye on grit and those who want to make money should weigh it,” wrote a film critic in China of Weibo.

Another wrote, “What makes people angry” is when foreigners “use Chinese investment money to make films to insult you”.

The umbrella is an example of China’s growing and excessive nationalism, fueled by a Chinese Communist Party story “that foreigners do not respect China,” said Kevin Carrico, lecturer in Chinese Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“There are some logical jumps and wild associations that seem to be the source of the offense here, as far as I can understand a silly joke or pun,” he said.

Some online critics cited the Chinese subtitles as evidence that at least someone involved in the production of the English-language film found the scene problematic. The Chinese subtitles swapped the word “Chi-nese” for “gold” in what some felt was an attempt to locate a difficult-to-translate pun. According to a Chinese proverb, men who have metaphorical “gold under their knees” do not bow or submit to others

“Monster Hunter” had an initial estimated budget of about $ 60 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It shows Milla Jovovich as the leader of a team of elite soldiers who were somehow transported to a land full of wild beasts. Tony Jaa, a Thai action star, plays the title character who tries to help them survive.

Amber Wang and Christopher Buckley contributed to the coverage.


Robert Dunfee