On Saturday, word broke that one of the season’s biggest new movies — Monster Hunter, in which Milla Jovovich, well, hunts monsters — was pulled from theaters in China. The reason? A line that was perceived as racist against Chinese people. Now one of its producers has released a statement, apologizing and claiming that it was not intentional.
In the statement, an unidentified producer for Constantin Films said that he “sincerely apologizes to Chinese audiences for a line of dialogue contained in an early scene of Monster Hunter. He continued:
“There was absolutely no intent to discriminate, insult or otherwise offend anyone of Chinese heritage. Constantin Film has listened to the concerns expressed by Chinese audiences and removed the line that has led to this inadvertent misunderstanding.”
The line is delivered by Asian-American rapper/actor Jin Au-Yeung, aka MC Jin, who turns to his scene partner and says, “Look at my knees. What kind of knees are these? Chinese.” It’s a riff on an old, racist playground rhyme that goes “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees – look at these” — a line that was used to mock children of Asian descent.
Making the line’s inclusion especially inexplicable is that Monster Hunter is an international co-production between American and Chinese production houses, among others, based on a video game from the Japanese company Capcom. The movie reunites Jovovich with her Resident Evil director — and husband — Paul W.S. Anderson, and it also features T.I., Ron Perlman, and Thai martial arts legend Tony Jaa. It opened this weekend in China and it’s due for American theaters on December 25.