The first rule of Fight Club: You don’t talk about Fight Club. The second rule, per the film’s recent Chinese release: The cops must win in the end.
One of the most iconic films of 1999 — a year filled with famous releases, David Fincher’s Fight Club remains a cult classic more than two decades after its premiere.
But the film’s anti-capitalist, anti-establishment message has been reimagined for its release on Tencent Video, one of China’s largest video streaming platforms.
Fans of the movie will recall that it ends with The Narrator (Edward Norton) killing his imaginary alter ego, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), before watching several buildings explode in the final scene.
But in the new version, which recently became available on Tencent Video, the explosion scene is cut, replaced instead by a black screen and a coda.
Screengrab via Tencent Video
“Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” reads the text at the film’s new ending.
Furthermore, it states that Tyler, a character who doesn’t actually exist in the movie, was sent to a “lunatic asylum” after trial, where he received psychological treatment before being released in 2012.
The obscure alteration was shared to Twitter by American film critic Courtney Howard on January 24 and has since been widely reported on in Western media.
FIGHT CLUB’s ending for the Chinese release (on Tencent Video) was changed to this and now I’m waiting for someone to fanfic a sequel based on this censored ending. pic.twitter.com/zYB0bY3Dlp— Courtney Howard @ #Sundance (@Lulamaybelle) January 24, 2022
FIGHT CLUB’s ending for the Chinese release (on Tencent Video) was changed to this and now I’m waiting for someone to fanfic a sequel based on this censored ending. pic.twitter.com/zYB0bY3Dlp
— Courtney Howard @ #Sundance (@Lulamaybelle) January 24, 2022
Meanwhile, in China, viewers who saw the original movie were quick to voice their discontent online.
On Douban, a user-generated review site, many netizens pointed out that the film’s original theme is fundamentally in line with Chinese values, as it portrays capitalism crumbling and America primed for revolution.
“I don’t understand. If the explosion happens, doesn’t it mean US imperialism is in dire straits, and capitalism is eating people and driving people crazy, so it reflects our superiority?” reads the top comment under a Douban post about the changes.
Others pointed out that, in addition to the plot change, the version on Tencent Video is 12 minutes shorter than the one on Netflix — from two hours and 19 minutes to two hours and seven minutes.
Edward Norton in Fight Club. Image via IMDb
It’s unclear whether government censors took creative license with the new ending or if it was done in advance by the movie’s production company to gain government approval.
At the time of writing, Tencent Video has yet to address the story publicly.
While an entirely new plot twist is not the norm for foreign movies released in China, Hollywood producers often create alternate cuts in hopes of gaining access to the lucrative Chinese box office.
But even if major studios make concessions for Chinese censors, it can be tough to break into the market. Case and point: Marvel, which had some of the world’s most commercially successful releases in 2021, couldn’t get a single movie into Chinese theaters last year.
And to think we got out hopes up for a Spider-Man: No Way Home release.
Cover image via IMDb
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