The joke is being seen as racist and “insulting” to the Chinese people and because of this, the Paul W.S. Anderson video game adaptation has been pulled from theaters.
The joke reportedly takes place during a 10-second conversation between Asian American actor/rapper Jin Au-Yeung (also known as MC Jin) and an unnamed white actor. In the scene an Asian character played by Jin and a white male character are driving together when the following exchange takes place:
“What?” asks the white male character. “Look at my knees!” shouts Jin. “What kind of knees are these?” asks the white male character. “Chi-nese!” jokes Jin, who makes a crude pun on the word’s last syllable.
The joke here is interpreted as racist since it seems to be a nod to the racist schoolyard rhyme, “Chi-nese, Jap-a-nese, dirty knees, look at these” which is typically accompanied by a slapping of the knees and slanting one’s eyes to appear Asian.
Now movie theaters around the world are pulling the film from their line-ups. There is no word yet on whether the scene will be cut from the film but re-shoots are reportedly taking place. However, a quarter of all screenings for the film were in China on Friday, but by today that number had fallen to only 0.7%. With China being the second largest region after the United States in terms of movie tickets sold, this will certainly hinder the film’s box office performance.