milla jovovich, tony jaa

Monster Hunter Pulled From Chinese Theaters Over Racial Slur

Producers are scrambling to cut the offensive scene after audience backlash.
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Fantasy action film Monster Hunter had all the makings of an international success: the film was based on a popular Capcom game, featured an international cast of A-list actors, and was helmed by Resident Evil‘s Paul W.S. Anderson. But a ten-second scene in the film, which features a racial slur, has caused international outrage. Cinemas across China are pulling the film only hours after it opened due to online outrage.

The scene in question features Asian-American rapper/actor Jin Au-Yeung (aka MC Jin) who says, “Look at my knees. What kind of knees are these? Chinese.” The quote alludes to the racist playground chant that has haunted countless people of Asian descent.

Furthermore, an awkwardly translated Chinese subtitle for the scene has also caused anger. According to Variety, the scene became doubly offensive due to references to knees and kneeling, creating a perfect storm of racism and xenophobia that quickly angered Chinese audiences. Many took to Chinese social media platform Weibo, where the phrase “Monster Hunter Insults China” quickly began trending:

“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.

The inference of a connection to the racist rhyme from the words “knees” and “Chinese” combined with the subtitles’ phrasing about kneeling down appears to have made many patriotic young viewers believe that the moment in English must be an obvious insult. Worse, many feel that the translation — which swaps in references to “gold” and makes no mention of “Chinese” — was a deliberate cover up of the offense.”

And despite China’s rigorous censorship rules, the exchange somehow snuck into the final cut with no mention of the problematic scene. Tencent Pictures, a producing partner in the film that is overseeing Chinese distribution, is scrambling to re-release Monster Hunter with the scene removed, but the damage has already been done. It’s unclear whether or not the film will return, deleted scene or not, to Chinese theaters.

And audience anger isn’t limited to the film alone. The Capcom game Monster Hunter World getting review bombed on Steam, as over a 1,000 negative reviews have hit the site since yesterday. Capcom Asia released a statement distancing themselves from the film on Weibo, saying “After learning your opinions about the movie Monster Hunter, we’ve collected everyone’s ideas and reported the situation to the relevant companies,” adding that it “hopes to continue to live up to your expectations in the future”.

The film’s grave mistake is especially disappointing considering it features a diverse cast. Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, MC Jin, Megan Good, T.I., and Diego Boneta all appear in the film about a group of soldiers who are suddenly transported into a world filled with giant monsters. Monster Hunter‘s gaffe is a timely reminder that a diverse cast does not absolve a film of racism or offensive stereotypes.

Monster Hunter is still due to premiere in America on December 25, but it’s unclear whether or not the offensive scene will remain in the American cut.

(via Variety, featured image: Coco Van Oppens Photography)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.