When Sony decided to bet the farm on the Chinese box office for Monster Hunter, it seemed like a pretty flawless plan. Paul W.S. Anderson's movies and specifically the Resident Evil movies with Milla Jovovich all tended to do very well in China. They weren't going to get much of anything from the domestic box office, to begin with, but maybe they could make back their money in China, and anything from the domestic box office would be a nice bonus. That was a good idea until a line from the movie was perceived as racist, and the movie was pulled from the Chinese box office. They are editing the movie to remove the line and will re-release it in China, but there is a good chance the damage is already done. The very box office that Sony was counting on is the one that is probably going to doom this movie to fall deep into the red. Several people involved with the movie have released statements about the line in question, including the actor that said the line, Asian-American rapper/actor Jin Au-Yeung (aka MC Jin) posted a three-minute video to his Instagram talking about the situation and how much it was "eating away at his heart."
Jovovich replied to the video with the following statement:
"I'm so sad that you feel the need to apologize. You are amazing and have always been so outspoken about your pride in your Chinese heritage. The line you improvised in the film was done to remind people of that pride, not to insult people. We should have researched the historical origin of it and that's 100% on us, but you didn't do ANYTHING wrong. None of us had ever heard the 'dirty knees' reference. You included. It was an unfortunate mistake and the Chinese translation didn't help. We adore you Jin and are so proud to have worked with you on this fun and exciting project and I hope you don't let this get you down man. It was our fault for not doing our due diligence and finding the WW2 era rhyme that's caused this uproar. We love you Jin."
Finally, Anderson released the following statement as well:
"I am absolutely devastated that a line from our movie, Monster Hunter, has offended some audience members in China. 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. 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."
Deadline confirms that the line is being removed from further releases of the movie, but, as previously stated, the damage is likely already done. It sounds like no one had bad intentions when it comes to this thing, but it does highlight how insidious racism is. It is baked into something as simple as a colloquialism or a rhyme that seems like it was intended for children. That's not to excuse anyone involved for not doing their due diligence but more that we all need to examine even the most basic forms of our language and understand that now the initial meaning could reside in bigotry while they seem harmless now.
Summary: Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Captain Artemis and her unit to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter, whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral. Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown.
Monster Hunter, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, stars Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, TI Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, and Ron Perlman. It will be released on December 25th.