One line of dialogue was labeled racist by local social media users, prompting boycott calls.
Monster Hunter, the fantasy action movie, disappeared from Chinese theaters just days after its release.
The film, an adaptation of a popular role-playing video game of the same name, premiered in China on Friday but quickly plunged into controversy online after a brief line of dialogue was called racist by users local social media.
In the scene, a character played by Asian-American rapper and actor Jin Au-Yeung says to his companion, “Look at my knees.”
“What kind of knees are these?” asks the white male figure.
“Chi-nese,” Jin said.
Criticism of the line went viral on Chinese social media over the weekend, with many claiming it was racist and some calling for a boycott.
Chinese censors do not announce when films are taken down, but following the controversy the film disappeared from ticket booking sites nationwide.
Entertainment news site Deadline.com said Constantin Film, a German company that co-produced the film with Chinese tech giant Tencent and Sony Pictures, apologized for the line of dialogue on Sunday.
“There was absolutely no intention to discriminate against, insult or offend anyone of Chinese descent,” the company said, according to the site, adding that the line had been removed from the film.
Many users of the popular Chinese Twitter-like Weibo platform said they were offended by the apparent link between “Chinese” and the symbolism of a person on their knees.
“Lines may not be very important to Westerners, but in the Chinese context ‘knees’ have a humiliating connotation,” one user said.
China has one of the most restrictive censorship in the world, and the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department approves only a handful of foreign films for release each year.
Those that are approved are sometimes filtered out with large cuts.
Over the past year, several scenes from the film, Bohemian Rhapsody, referencing the sexuality of iconic musician Freddie Mercury – an essential part of his biography – were dropped when it was released in China.