The controversial Monster Hunter movie has been pulled from Chinese theaters, due to supposed “racial slurs”.
On December 4th, the film was released early in China, getting third place in the box office charts, before controversy over racism got the film pulled from theaters. Not long after the premiere, theaters got notices to pull the films, due to a joke about “Chi-knees”. The joke was an alleged reference to an old schoolyard rhyme called “Dirty Knees” that was used to discriminate against Chinese and Japanese immigrants.
Chinese censors are working on replacing the joke in question, but some fear it may be too late, as the movie’s user score has dropped to 4.9 on the Chinese review website Douban. The joke also started trending on Chinese social media website Weibo, under the hashtag “Monster Hunter Insults China.” Many expressed that they weren’t going to watch the film, even if it does get censored. By Friday, Capcom of Asia released the following statement:
“After learning your opinions about the movie Monster Hunter, we’ve collected everyone’s ideas and reported the situation to the relevant companies,” it said, adding that it “hopes to continue to live up to your expectations in the future” and keep on creating appealing video games.
Many Western critics, (such as the podcast Castle Super Beast), aren’t sure how the racist joke made it into the movie, as the scene happens two minutes into the story. Monster Hunter was also heavily marketed in China, lending some of its footage to Chinese musicians to put into their music videos. Additionally, three separate Chinese studios worked on the film. It seemed that the Chinese would be one of the last groups of people they’d want to offend, and yet they did it anyways, for no discernable reason.
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil), the movie is loosely based on the popular game series of the same name. Published by Capcom and released in 2004, the series is about hunting monsters and using their body parts to craft bigger and better weapons. The games have been a critical and financial success since their release, selling over 65 million copies since its debut. The movie has had no shortage of controversies since its initial announcement, from hiring Paul W.S. Anderson to direct after making the critically panned Resident Evil films to the review bombing on Monster Hunter: World‘s user score for referencing the movie in a recent update. The film is out now in American theaters, and stars Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) and Ron Pearlman (Pacific Rim, Hellboy).