Monster Hunter film pulled from Chinese cinemas for offensive line

Posted on December 7, 2020

Paul W. S. Anderson’s live-action Monster Hunter movie has debuted in some markets and is already proving controversial among Chinese fans. A particularly racist line from the movie has been considered insulting by Chinese viewers, with gamers flooding Monster Hunter: World’s Steam page with negative reviews to vent their displeasure. The film has currently been pulled from theatres in China while a “new version” is produced, presumably without that line.

Film analyst Daniel Ahmad uploaded a clip of the scene in question to Twitter, but it was taken down. The line, spoken by a soldier in the film, is “What are my knees? What kind of knees are these? Chi-knees,” a reference to a racist nursery rhyme.

The biggest question is how that line even made it into the Monster Hunter in the first place. It’s appalling on its own, but the fact that these kinds of effects-heavy blockbusters usually need to succeed in China to make back their budget makes its presence even more baffling. The translated subtitles in the Chinese release do not translate the line accurately, suggesting that the film’s producers knew that it wouldn’t go down well. The director, producers, screenwriters and actors all seemingly looked at that line and thought that it would be a good idea to leave it in.

Capcom, the publisher of the Monster Hunter video game franchise, is currently in damage control, distancing itself from the movie on Twitter. In the Tweet, they advise that they did not produce the movie and are currently investigating how the film companies involved made this mistake. However, considering Capcom have already produced movie tie-in promotions in Monster Hunter: World, their protestations of having no involvement may ring a bit hollow. Chinese Monster Hunter: World fans are making their displeasure known, with over 2000 negative reviews showing up on the game’s Steam Store page in the past three days. Despite being one of the most acclaimed games of 2018, its current recent review average is “Mixed”.

So what next for the live-action Monster Hunter movie? It is not set to debut in English-language regions for a few more weeks. An edited version of the film without the line will likely release in Chinese theatres in a few days to hopefully win back the crowd. Considering the negative publicity, the line in question may also be excised from the English language release of the film. Still, it is not exactly an auspicious start for the Paul W. S. Anderson’s latest movie’s overseas box office, particularly considering how his Resident Evil movies typically did much better outside North America. It will remain to be seen if Monster Hunter can overcome this difficult initial release and eventually find success.