The Great Wall, Zhang Yimou's historical fiction monster epic starring Matt Damon, is still battling less-than-flattering press just two months out from its U.S. release. In an interview with the Wrap Thursday, the founder of "China's version of the People's Choice Awards" unabashedly trashed the "low-quality" movie and criticized Damon's intentions for joining the production.
"That movie became one of the worst movies in China," Wang Haige, Huading Awards chairman, told the Wrap via a translator. Wang also questioned Damon's involvement, alleging that he only took the role for the presumed stacks of cash. "He joined the movie because of the high pay," Wang said. "I'm against those stars who attempt to get more money to act in the more low-quality movie."
The Great Wall, slated for a Feb. 17 drop in the States, first inspired accusations of "whitewashing" back in July. Following the backlash, Damon said he took the "whole idea of whitewashing very seriously" and blamed a lack of context for the controversy. The criticism surrounding his casting, Damon told the Associated Press earlier this month, should subside "once people see that it's a monster movie and it's a historical fantasy and I didn't take a role away from a Chinese actor."
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly in August, Zhang Yimou also rebuked the criticism. "In many ways The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested," he said. "For the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made at tent pole scale for a world audience. I believe that is a trend that should be embraced by our industry."