The American film, whose budget reaches 60 million dollars, has aroused the anger of viewers. It will only be showing for one day.
Two sentences were enough to stop the Chinese projections of a blockbuster at 60 million dollars. Monster hunter , adapted from a video game of the same name by director Paul WS Anderson, was pulled from theaters in China on Friday after just one day of operation. Shattering the hopes of producers who were betting on a first box office success before it hit theaters in December in the United States (it will arrive in 2021 in France).
The reason for this controversy? A ten-second dialogue considered by spectators as racist. During the film, one of the actors, the Thai Tony Jaa makes a reflection about his knees. He tells his partner played by Josh Helman: “Look at my knees”. The other responds: “What kind of knees?”. The first responds: “Chinese”. A word game that uses the proximity of the sounds in English of knees (“knees”) and Chinese (“chinese”). Tony Jaa then wears a big smile.
Different Chinese subtitles
Critics of Monster hunter, a film produced and distributed by American, Chinese, German and Japanese companies, saw it as a reference to a racist refrain recited by children in playgrounds across the Atlantic. This one says: “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees – look at these”, which rhymes “Chinese”, “Japanese”, “dirty knees” and “look at those” (in reference to a chest that would be more developed in Westerners).
The anger was all the more intense as the Chinese subtitles indicated a whole different meaning, referring to the importance of never kneeling down in honor. Viewers saw it as a way for Chinese distributors to disguise the racist allusion.
But was there only a reference to the rhyme? And if so, did the writers want to be racist? We do not know. The producers as well as the distributor have not reacted officially. They must in any case bite their fingers not to have, during the viewing in the post-production phase, not been able to prevent the controversy.