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Censored new Chinese cut of ‘Fight Club’ has a very different ending

The cult classic has been reimagined by Chinese censors

By Joe Goggins

A still of a scene from David Fincher's 'Fight Club'
Fight Club (Picture: Press)

A new version of ‘Fight Club’ has been released online in China – with a very different ending.

Foreign films are often edited in China to show that law enforcement and justice ultimately prevail. David Fincher’s 1999 cult classic ends with Edward Norton’s character, the Narrator, realising that Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, is a mental projection on the Narrator’s part; he kills Durden, with the movie’s closing scene showing buildings collapsed by explosions, implying that Durden’s plot to bring about the fall of consumerism is coming to fruition.

However, a new edit of the movie, available on the Chinese streaming site Tencent Video, alters the narrative to the point of farce. As Vice explains, The explosion scene has been cut entirely, with newly inserted inter-titles informing the viewer that police foiled Durden’s plan and defused the bombs. Durden was, the new version would have it, sent to a psychiatric hospital and eventually released in 2012.

Tencent have refused to comment, leaving confusion to reign over whether they made the decision to radically alter the ending themselves, or whether they were ordered to by the government. Per Vice, a source familiar with the situation said that the film’s copyright holder performed the edit, which was then approved by the state and sold to streaming sites. The film was published in China by Pacific Audio & Video Co., which is affiliated with the state-owned Guangdong TV.

The revisions were met with widespread ridicule on Chinese social media. Writing on the microblogging site Weibo, one commenter said: “Probably Ocean’s 11 would have all been arrested. The Godfather’s entire family would end up in jail.” Another felt that “there is no point watching this film without that scene.”

It’s common for imported films to fall foul of the country’s strict censorship laws, which are in place in order for the ruling Communist Party to block any content it deems immoral. Also available via Tencent is ‘Lord of War’, Andrew Niccol’s 2005 crime drama film starring Nicolas Cage as an arms dealer who, in the film’s climactic scene, evades jail time and returns to criminality.

The ending goes on to note that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, one of which is China, are in fact the world’s biggest arm dealers. However, in Tencent’s version – which runs 30 minutes shorter than the original – this is cut in favour of a caption which claims that Cage’s character “confessed all the crimes officially charged against him in court, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the end.”