Monster Hunter director Paul W.S. Anderson has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the film, which was pulled from Chinese cinemas during its opening weekend amid backlash over a line of dialogue that has been perceived as racist by local audiences. In a statement provided to Deadline, Anderson says he is “devastated” and “mortified” that anything in the film “has caused unintentional offense… 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.” (See the statement in full below.)
Also apologizing, Asian-American rapper/actor Jin Au-Yeung (aka MC Jin), posted a three-minute video to his Instagram account in which he says the situation is “eating at my heart.” His story was then commented on by star Milla Jovovich. In her reply she wrote, “It was our fault for not doing our due diligence and finding the WW2 era rhyme that’s caused this uproar.” Deadline has confirmed that the line is being removed from all versions globally.
Anderson’s statement in full reads: “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.”
As for Jin, who speaks the dialogue in question, he wrote, “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.”
Watch the full video below:
Here’s Jovovich’s reply to Jin’s 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.”
Monster Hunter’s Chinese distribution was handled by Tencent which is an equity partner in the film. Including Thursday sneaks, the fantasy actioner did $5.3M on Friday but has since disappeared from ticketing platform Maoyan. The film is produced by Constantin (which issued its own apology on Sunday), Impact Pictures, Tencent and Toho. Sony has world rights outside Germany, Austria, Switzerland, China and Japan. It released the film in a handful of markets this past weekend where it debuted at No. 1 in each case, grossing $2.65M combined. The feature game adaptation is due to hit U.S. cinemas on December 25.