Studio Edits Monster Hunter Movie After Offending Chinese Audiences
Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa in Monster Hunter. (Source: Sony Pictures)

Studio Edits Monster Hunter Movie After Offending Chinese Audiences

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The co-producer of “Monster Hunter” apologized after facing severe criticism for a line in the movie that some Chinese viewers and social media users viewed as being racist and led to the fantasy action film being pulled from some cinemas in the country a day after its release.

Constantin Film, which co-produced the Paul W.S. Anderson-directed feature, said it edited out a line after listening to the concerns of Chinese audiences. The company, based in Germany, said it was an “inadvertent misunderstanding.” Sony Corp. is distributing the film in the U.S. while Tencent Pictures, a unit of Tencent Holdings Ltd., is an investor in the production. Both companies declined to comment.

“Constantin Film sincerely apologizes to Chinese audiences,” it said in an emailed statement. “There was absolutely no intent to discriminate, insult or otherwise offend anyone of Chinese heritage.” The company didn’t say when the edited version of the movie will be available again in China. Its initial release was Dec. 4.

The scene in the film, based on a popular video game, shows a soldier played by Chinese-American rapper and actor Jin Au-Yeung riding across a desert in a vehicle. “Look at my knees,” he said. “What kind of knees are these? Chi-nese.” That angered some viewers, who highlighted its similarity to a playground taunt against people of Asian descent for supposedly being dirty.

Heightened Nationalism

The controversy highlights the difficulties Hollywood faces in appealing to its most important overseas market, as China witnesses a heightened sense of nationalism and its increasingly affluent consumers push back on anything they perceive as derogatory. The Asian nation is set to become the world’s biggest market for films this year as theaters reopen after the coronavirus pandemic was brought under control.

The actor Au-Yeung also apologized for the scene, though he said he was frustrated that its meaning had been “flipped upside down.” The scene was meant to be a moment for the character to “proudly proclaim that he is a Chinese soldier” and had nothing to do with the rhyme, he said in a video clip.

Walt Disney Co.’s “Mulan” upset some viewers this year for its portrayal of Chinese culture, while it also came under fire for filming in China’s Xinjiang region, where Beijing is accused of human-rights abuses.

In October, South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. reportedly withdrew K-pop group BTS’ branded smartphones and earbuds in China after a band member commented on the 70th anniversary of the Korean war.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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