Mere days after his new movie Monster Hunter debuted worldwide, filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson found himself in hot water in China. A certain phrase from the film where a character points at his knees and says "What kind of knees are these? Chin-Knees," has been deemed racist by some Chinese moviegoers, who took to social media to blast the movie and its creators. Amidst reports of Monster Hunter getting boycotted from Chinese theaters, Anderson issued an apology.
"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."
More than Anderson, Chinese viewers are angry with Asian-American rapper/actor Jin Au-Yeung (aka MC Jin), who was the one who spoke the offending line. The debate surrounding Jin's role in the film became so heated that the actor took to Instagram to issue his own apology in a video, where he reiterated his pride in his Chinese heritage, and explained that the line was supposed to be "uplifting" but was misconstrued in its intent.
"Monster Hunter movie was recently released in China and there has been severe controversy due to a line my character says. It's unfortunate that it has escalated to this level, especially since the line was intended to be uplifting."
"I felt a need to address this situation because what is at stake is not my career but something even more dear to my heart - my roots. I've spent the last 20 years using my platform to embrace and be a positive voice for my community. I am and will always be proud of my heritage."
"To my Chinese fans, I appreciate all your support and understanding during this time."
Actress Milla Jovovich, who plays the lead in Monster Hunter, added her support for Jin under his video while accepting responsibility for not doing due diligence before inserting that line in the story.
"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."
Written, directed, and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, Monster Hunter stars Milla Jovovich, Ron Perlman, TI, Tony Jaa, Meagan Good, Jin Au-Yeung, and Diego Boneta.
The film tells the story of a group of soldiers who find themselves transported to a distant land where monsters roam the earth. Their only hope for survival lies in the knowledge and experience of a local hunter who has made a career out of chasing the monsters. Monster Hunter arrives in theaters on December 4 in the United Kingdom and on December 18 in the United States. This story first appeared at Deadline.