Deadline and other outlets reported that the release of Paul W.S. Anderson’s (Resident Evil, Event Horizon, Soldier, AVP) latest video game adaptation Monster Hunter, met with some angry Chinese audiences as the movie released there and it included a racist 10-second scene referencing the offensive nursery rhyme “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees”.
Leading Monster Hunter to be pulled from the screens.
The 10-second scene that has generated an outcry features Asian-American rapper/actor Jin Au-Yeung (aka MC Jin), who at one point riffs to his scene partner, “Look at my knees. What kind of knees are these? Chinese.” This is being linked to a racist playground rhyme used to mock children of Asian origin. Upset, we understand, has further been sown by the scene’s local subtitles.
There are expectations the scene will be removed but it’s unknown if the government will allow Monster Hunter to return to local screens. It’s also possible the backlash will have done enough damage there that big dollars expected from China while most theaters around the world are closed aren’t likely going to be as massive as the studio first imagined.
It’s a little disheartening because the film is an adaption of Japanese-based Capcom’s video game franchise with Chinese-based distribution company Tencent working on the film as well. Monster Hunter also had a very impressive international trailer marketed towards the Chinese audience that was miles better than the domestic cut trailer.
However, this does seem to highlight that extra care needed to make sure that you’re not offending entire countries or a race of people with outdated humor or references.
I think it’s worth pointing out this even isn’t the only 2020 film from a British director to reference the rhyme. Guy Ritchie’s most recent film The Gentlemen has Hugh Grant’s character Fletcher also play with the racist rhyme when Fletcher is referencing Henry Golding’s character Dry Eye and his Asian heritage.
FLETCHER: “I talk Raymondo of Dry Eye. Oh Dry Eye, what is he? Chinese, Japanese, Pekingese, get on your fucking knees. Dirty dragon filth. Yellow is the colour, gambling is the game.”
It seems like Hollywood still needs to do better when attempting humor and making sure they’re not returning to racist tropes we thought that were over decades ago.