The book that Jackie Chan movie The Foreigner is based on was called The Chinaman, but producers changed the title for obvious reasons.
While using the phrase “Chinaman” was relatively common when Stephen Leather wrote the thriller back in 1992, it’s now widely regarded as offensive due to the derogatory contexts in which it has often been used.
However, in an exclusive interview with Monsters and Critics director Martin Campbell revealed he did decide to include the term in the film.
One scene sees Pierce Brosnan’s character Liam Hennessy use it to refer to Jackie Chan’s character Quan Ngoc Minh.
Asked if he still wanted to have some of the characters use the phrase to “pay homage” to the original text, he said: “Yes. I was told that the Chinese themselves in China are not offended by the word. Chinese people outside of the country are offended by the word so we couldn’t use the word Chinaman [in the title]. But Hennessy, Pierce’s character, uses it in a derogatory sense. He’s so frustrated with Quan.”
The novel was written by Leather while he was working as a night news editor on British newspaper The Times. It tells the story of Chan’s character Quan trying to seek revenge after a family tragedy at the hands of IRA bombers.
The Foreigner is released this Friday, October 13.