The Great Wall Trailer: Even the Biggest Walls Need White Men to Defend Them

By  · Published on July 29th, 2016

Matt Damon is the hero China needs. Or maybe he’s the monster?

I like Matt Damon. He’s a great actor, he’s made some terrific films, and he seems like a fun guy. But I’m thinking pre-20th century period pieces aren’t really his thing. The Brothers Grimm has its share of issues, and one of them is Damon’s inability to blend into the world around him. He’s taking another shot at it with the upcoming Chinese blockbuster (to be), The Great Wall, and once again he appears to be just one of the possible problems.

Zhang Yimou’s (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) latest film is an action/fantasy epic exploring the “real” reason behind the construction of one of the Wonders of the World – the Great Wall of China. It seems deadly, carnivorous creatures have been illegally crossing the border and snacking on the locals, and the only solution is building a giant wall and hiring white warriors to defend it. Give it a watch below.

There’s no denying that Zhang makes beautiful movies, and some of the action scenes here look spectacularly entertaining. I’m hoping that’s a dragon at the end there too so I can pretend this is the Reign of Fire prequel we never got. It’s easy to criticize on its face though as yet another story of a white man saving non-whites, but in the film’s defense this is based on a true story.

More interesting to me is the trailer’s on-screen text laying out the narrative:

“One of mankind’s greatest wonders. 1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out? Matt Damon.”

Spoiler… they failed.

Not only has he made it past the wall, but he’s also dominating the poster. Seriously, this is ridiculous. The Great Wall – the title of the film but also a gigantic object in its own right – is relegated to the bottom corner while Damon’s face occupies the remaining 90% of the image. To be fair, it seems like this is a contractually obligated poster design for the actor, but it still seems a bit egregious. The film is a mainly Chinese production, one starring big names like Andy Lau and Jing Tian, so presumably local marketing isn’t as focused on Damon.

The Great Wall builds its 3rd place opening on February 17th, 2017.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.