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Milla Jovovich, star of new sci-fi action movie Monster Hunter, has responded to the growing furore after the movie was pulled from Chinese theatres over dialogue deemed to be racist.
The row surrounds a line in the movie that references a racist playground rhyme dating back to the Second World War.
In the movie, while joking with another character, Miami-born Asian American rapper-turned-actor Jin Au-Yeung says: “Look at my knees. What kind of knees are these? Chi-nese.”
Yeung took to Instagram to apologise for the blunder, saying: “I felt like this was a scene that was supposed to be a moment for Chinese people to be like, 'Yes!'
“For it to be flipped upside-down like this, it really, really, really is eating at me. But I will say, at the same time, for any body who misunderstood or who thought it was meant to be belittling, I sincerely apologise.”
Replying to the message, Jovovich said she felt “sad” that he felt the need to apologise.
“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,” she went on.
“We should have researched the historical origin of it and that's 100% on us, but you didn't do ANYTHING wrong.”
The movie, released in China last week, was pulled after one day on release, but according to Variety, despite hopes of the movie returning to screens with an edited version of the scene, Chinese movie and booking sites have now removed its listings completely.
The blunder appears to be particularly notable as the movie was a co-production with Chinese company Tencent Pictures.
Director Paul WS Anderson, who is married to Jovovich, has also apologised, saying in a statement: “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.”
German production company Constantin Film added: “There was absolutely no intent to discriminate, insult or otherwise offend anyone of Chinese heritage.
“Constantin Film has listened to the concerns expressed by Chinese audiences and removed the line that has led to this inadvertent misunderstanding.”
Watch: Producers remove racist line from Monster Hunter