Update: A rep for the film explains that the Chan's character in the film is actually Chinese. However, The Foreigner is set to include plot twists and mysteries surrounding Quan's real identity. Though the movie is based on a book by Stephen Leather, certain details have been changed in its adaptation.
This post was originally published at 8:45 p.m.
Jackie Chan's latest role is taking him away from his martial arts mastery and letting him show off his acting chops — opposite ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan, at that. But critics of the Oscar winner's casting in The Foreigner are pointing out the fact that Chan, a Chinese man, is playing a Vietnamese character.
The Foreigner involves Chan's character, Quan, a Vietnamese immigrant in London, looking for vengeance after his daughter is killed in a terrorist attack. Brosnan plays Hennessey, a British government agent that Quan is looking for to get information about the terrorists. He's planning on taking the situation into his own hands, making for plenty of suspense and political intrigue.
Teen Vogue reports that many are taking issue with the fact that Chan was cast over an actual Vietnamese actor and that the film is being directed by a white man, Martin Campbell.
"You can't mix-and-match people's ethnicities," Twitter user @Linhtropy said in a succinct critique of the film.
Adding to the problematic casting is the underlying power dynamic between China and Vietnam. @Linhtropy explained that China was one of the countries that colonized Vietnam in the past and Chan's casting can be seen as a sort of erasure of Vietnamese culture.
Asian-American feminist blogger @Reappropriate expanded on @Linthropy's idea, adding that the film is based on a book called The Chinaman, which is a racial slur in and of itself.
Both @Linhtropy and @Reappropriate mention the sensitivities involved in the film, since Chan's fanbase includes people from all backgrounds. Plus, having a movie made starring an Asian actor at all is a huge deal for representation in Hollywood, especially after what happened with 2017's Ghost in the Shell.
Chan himself hasn't responded to the issue, but he's got plenty of time: The movie arrives in theaters this October.
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