Aug 11, 2016

    Zhang defends Damon's role in action film


    DAYS after a trailer for

    The Great Wall sparked controversy for its casting of Matt Damon as the lead, Chinese film-maker

    Zhang Yimou has released a statement defending

    the decision.

    "Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall," he told Entertainment Weekly.

    "Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor.

    "There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them - the other four are all Chinese.

    "I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision," wrote Zhang.

    The film, from Legendary and Universal,

    is set on the Great Wall Of China. It focuses on a group of elite warriors

    who band together to

    keep out and defeat mythical creatures.

    But people were still disappointed that the film, set about 1,000 years ago, stars a white American actor.

    In a lengthy tweet,

    Fresh Off The Boat star Constance Wu wrote

    that the film is "perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world".

    She added: "Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon".

    Zhang also said that

    "for the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made... for a world audience…

    "I believe that is a trend that should be embraced

    by our industry".

    The film will also star Pedro Pascal and Willem Dafoe alongside Chinese stars including Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu and

    Eddie Peng.

    It is the first movie to emerge from Legendary Entertainment's Legendary East operation.

    It is also the first English-language film

    for Zhang with a

    US$135 million (S$181 million) budget.

    It is set to open in the United States on Feb 17.