The Great Wall,” a US-China co-production, is due to make its debut in the United States on February 17, 2017, amid much controversy surrounding the movie. Soon after Entertainment Weekly published “Matt Damon The Great Wall First Look: 5 images from the monster movie,” it attracted a surge of criticism over a white man being cast as a China “hero”.
By the time the official trailer was made public, the hostility against a white man, Matt Damon, being cast as the male lead in a China-oriented movie was already unleashed which is evident from the tweets that followed the EW piece.
A tweet from @angryasianman said: “Things You Can Count On: Hollywood can set a movie anywhere in the world, in any era of history, and always find a way to star a white guy.”
Another from The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern read:
“Enough with the white savior complex.”
Constance Wu posted a really long message on Twitter titled:
“Can we all at least agree that hero-bias & “but it’s really hard to finance” are no longer excuses for racism? TRY”
In so far as Matt Damon, himself, is concerned, “It was really based on the one sheet,” he told NBC News. “I think people saw ‘The Great Wall,’ and then they saw my face and my name, and went, like, ‘What the hell is this?”
However, the December 2016 release in China made it apparent that the hostile reaction was uncalled for and was rather impulsive and hasty. Too much noise was made over the “white savior” issue as Matt Damon spends a considerable length of un-hero-like time in the film getting outwitted, humbled and learning Chinese righteousness.
The 104-minute film was first released in Beijing on December 6, and the rest of China got to watch it on December 15. The $150 million production grossed $224.6 million at the Box Office.
The US release, however, will see “The Great Wall” competing with the likes of “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Fifty Shades Darker” at the Box Office.
While many believe it will not be easy all we can do for now is speculate.
From the trailer, the film looks to be brilliantly filmed and the action sequences are spectacular.
“The Great Wall” Plot
During the reign of Emperor Renzong of the Song dynasty a team of twenty mercenaries who are in search of the black powder, a few miles north of the great wall, are given chase by a group of Khitan bandits who have already slain some of the mercenaries.
The remaining men take shelter in a cave where they are attacked by a monster. Only William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) survive the attack with the former managing to sever the monster’s hand. The duo decides on carrying the severed hand with them.
The next day they reach the great wall where they are taken prisoner by the Nameless Order, a secret, elite team of soldiers from the Imperial Army commissioned to fight alien monsters who are active once every sixty years. The Order is led by General Shao (Zhang Hanyu) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau) in the quest to repel or vanquish the monsters.
The Nameless Order is attacked suddenly by the monsters and is strategically split into 5 units: the Bear Troop, the Eagle Troop, the Tiger Troop, the Deer Troop, and the Crane troop according to their areas of expertise, to counter the wave.
A fearsome battle ensues and casualties and losses are suffered on both sides. Peng Yong, a soldier belonging to the Bear Troop, frees William and Tovar during the battle, fortunately for himself, as William saves his life from the attacking monsters. General Shao and the leader of the Crane Troop, Commander Lin (Jing Tian), are impressed by the fighting skills displayed in battle by the two mercenaries.
William and Tovar then meet Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe), also a European who, like them, had come to seek out the black powder twenty-five years ago. He had also been taken prisoner and ever since has been in servitude working as an English and Latin teacher.
The three of them hatch plans of stealing the black powder, which has been kept hidden in a storeroom by the Nameless Order, and making good their escape.
However, Strategist Wang later meets William and brings him up to date with the reality behind the ongoing monster attacks.
William comes to know that the attacking monsters are called Taoties believed to come from a green meteor which struck the Gouwu Mountain two thousand years ago.
According to Chinese belief, the Taoties were sent by the gods for punishing the emperor for misuse of authority against the Middle Kingdom and the people. He is also told that the monsters attacked Northern China at sixty-year intervals and that the soldiers of the Order have been training all their lives for the invasion.
During an attack in the night by two Taoties, Shao, one of the two commanders heading the Deer soldiers in an attempt to investigate an earlier ambush, dies and leaves the other leader, Lin, to take charge of the troop.
Later in the movie, William gets knocked cold by Ballard and Tovar when he tries to stop them from escaping. He then gets captured and locked up in the Wall. While he is captive, Ballard abandons Tovar but is, in turn, captured by the Khitans and dies along with them when they unknowingly ignite the black powder. Tovar, meanwhile, gets captured by the Deer Troop.
Toward the end, Lin orders the release of Williams before leaving in hot-air balloons in pursuit of an escaped Taotie who had been captured alive earlier. In spite of being asked by Wang to go and inform the outside world about the impending danger, William decides to help and boards the last hot-air balloon together with Wang and Peng.
The climax sees a captured Taotie being tied up with explosives and released later with meat for the queen of Taoties – Wang’s idea to kill the queen.
Willam, Lin, and Wang then get on top of a tower to shoot a black powder missile into the tied explosives at the right time. Wang is killed on the move while the Taoties deflect two arrows from William before Lin’s spear does the trick.
The queen dies, the invading Taoties are destroyed, and Willam and Tovar begin their journey back home, watched by Lin, who is now the General, from the wall.
Matt Damon (William), Jing Tian (Lin), Pedro Pascal (Tovar), Willem Dafoe (Ballard), Andy Lau (Wang), Zhang Hanyu (Shao), Eddie Peng ( Wu), Lu Han (Peng), Lin Gengxin (Chen), Chen Xuedong (Commander of the Imperial Guard), Huang Xuan (Commander of the Deer Troop), Wang Junkai (The Emperor), Ryan Zheng (Shen), Zhu Zhu,Yu Xintian, and Liu Qiong
Historical fiction-action-adventure-monster film
Thomas Tull, Charles Roven, Jon Jashni, and Peter Loehr
US Release Date
February 15, 2017