Matt Damon is working it on his birthday today, appearing at a New York Comic-Con panel for his upcoming Legendary/Universal epic The Great Wall. During the session, Damon received a birthday wish text from his father which he shared with the fanboys: “My birthday present to you is that in exactly one month, we can kiss Trump goodbye” said Damon with a crooked grin. The Oscar-winner then added “If he did get elected, Mexico would have to put up that wall to keep him out!”
Ever since the trailer dropped for the $135M Chinese co-production, Great Wall has dogged criticism from the Asian American media that it has whitewashed history; that it’s just another epic that celebrates the white savior. In the movie, Damon plays William, a mercenary who gets stuck on the wrong side of the Chinese Wall and assists them in battling dragons along with the help of co-star Pedro Pascal. At today’s panel, the film’s actors and director tried to emphasize other attributes about the movie.
Chinese actress Jing Tian played the gender equality card, pointing out that her character was the badass leader of the Chinese army in the film. “As leader of the army, the quality between men and women in leadership roles — I wish we could see more of in film. Also historically, men have been predominantly in the army. It’s unique to have a female gender; she brings girl power to the movie.”
While many have perceived Great Wall to be a historical epic, Damon noted that “ultimately it’s a monster movie. Monsters are attacking the Great Wall. It’s historical fantasy. I’ve never done that before and if ever was to do something like that, it would be with (director) Zhang Yimou.”
The Jason Bourne actor further added, “It was cool to incorporate Chinese mythology in a Hollywood sword and sandal epic.”
Yimou exclaimed via an interpreter, “This movie is made for the world audience. We have people working all over the world and we worked hard to present this movie to you guys” adding that they built three walls during production since they could not shoot on the actual Great Wall.
Great Wall isn’t the first Yimou movie to star a leading box office star. The director’s 2011 film The Flowers of War started Christian Bale and centered around a Westerner who finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan’s rape of Nanking in 1937. Flowers wasn’t a Hollywood-made movie. The film made $95M in China, it’s highest territory while it died at the B.O. in other territories round the globe. Damon’s last two movies have landed Chinese releases and fared rather well in the Middle Kingdom: Jason Bourne with $66.3M and The Martian which made close to $95M.
A new trailer was dropped today, which you can watch above. The Great Wall hits theaters on Feb. 17.