The highly anticipated film adaptation of the popular video game Monster Hunter recently released in Chinese theaters to an unexpected wave of backlash due to an offensive joke within the movie. So far, many theaters have pulled the film, and it’s unclear if a version that removes the scene will make its way back to Chinese cinemas.
The scene in question has a white male character and an Asian character, played by Jin Au-Yeung, a popular Asian-American rapper who’s well known in China, driving together at high speed. “Look at my Knees!” shouts Jin’s character. “What kind of knees are these?” asks the passenger. “Chi-nese!” jokes Jin.
Chinese audiences interpreted the joke as a reference to an old racist schoolyard rhyme insulting Asians. “Chi-nese, Jap-a-nese, dir-ty knees, look at these,” goes the offensive rhyme, along with knee slaps and slant-eyed gestures. While some audience members were fine with the idea of an edited version of the film being released, others believe that the film shouldn’t make its way back into theaters at all.
“If there is no severe punishment, in the future others who want to humiliate China will just humiliate China, thinking it’s fine to just give those Chinese a version to screen with the insults cut out,” wrote a user on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.