If you saw the trailer for Zhang Yimou’s “The Great Wall” and couldn’t help wondering why Matt Damon has such a prominent role in the Chinese army, you’re not alone. “Fresh Off the Boat” star Constance Wu took issue with the upcoming war epic on Twitter, posting a screenshot of a statement that begins, “We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that a only white man can save the world. It’s not based in actual fact.”
“Doctor Strange,” “Ghost in the Shell” and other upcoming films have received similar whitewashing criticism, including from Wu herself. “Think only a huge movie star can sell a movie? That that has NEVER been a total guarantee,” her statement (which can be read in its entirety here) continued. “Why not TRY to be better? If white actors are forgiven for having a box office failure once in a while, why can’t a POC sometimes have one?”
The film, whose premise posits that the Great Wall of China was actually built to keep out mythical monsters, is the most expensive ever to be shot entirely in China — its budget is estimated at at least $135 million.
Zhang, a luminary of China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers, earned international acclaim for efforts like “Raise the Red Lantern” and “To Live” before transitioning to such big-budget fare as “Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers” and “The Flowers of War,” which starred Christian Bale. “The Great Wall” will be released next February.