China’s most expensive film to date is generating quite a buzz — but not the kind producers were hoping.
The movie “The Great Wall,” is a period flick set a thousand years in the past where Hollywood A-lister Matt Damon plays a soldier in ancient China. The film, which reportedly costs $150 million to produce, revolves around “an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure,” according to the press release.
Helmed by renowned Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, China’s first big-budget, English-language film leaves a tension-filled trailer that features a kind of monstrous presence terrorizing the Great Wall. While, the intriguing premise may leave audiences wondering what type of evil they were trying to keep out of the wall, BBC reported that netizens have shared their own ideas behind it:
“What were they trying to keep out? Asian actors out of Hollywood apparently,” said one of the many similarly-themed tweets that pointed out how the role in a movie about ancient China went to a Caucasian Hollywood actor.
“Now, what about that movie about the Great Wall of China starring everyone’s favourite Chinese actor, Matt Damon?” another feedback said.
…why would white men need to be in a movie about the Great Wall, even if it's a monster movie?
— Nicole Chung (@nicole_soojung) July 28, 2016
The Angry Asian Man, a popular Asian pop-culture blog, called the movie “the latest movie in the grand cinematic tradition of the Special White Person.” It said, “You can set a story anywhere in the world, in any era of history, and Hollywood will still somehow find a way for the movie to star a white guy.”
Fresh off the Boat star Constance Wu also posted her opinion on Twitter against the “racist myth that [only a] white man can save the world”.
Wu wrote: “Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. Ghandi. Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time. We don’t need salvation. We like our color and our culture and our strengths and our own stories.”
For “The Great Wall”, the movie’s director gave his two cents as to why the movie needed someone like Damon in the film. “First and foremost, this is an English-language film, and a Hollywood blockbuster,” Zhang told Entertainment Weekly. “It was already very clear in the script phase.”
The lack of diversity in Hollywood has become a hot topic in recent months after the recent #OscarsSoWhite controversy and with new films being called out for whitewashing characters.
“The Great Wall” is set to release in the U.S. on Feb. 17, 2017, a couple of months after the movie’s Chinese release. The huge cast also includes Willem Dafoe and Chinese superstars Andy Lau, Wang Junkai and Jing Tian.