January 24, 2022
David Fincher’s cult-classic ‘Fight Club’ has seen an official online release in China on the Tencent Video streaming platform, but it’s not exactly the movie westerners might remember. Most imported films in China go through a censorship filter, making sure that the films are in line with the Communist party’s ideals and portray law enforcement as the ultimate force for good, always triumphing over the villains. If that’s not the way the original story goes – it gets changed, and the censors don’t seem to really care about preserving the plot or maintaining coherence of the films they edit, and the changes are often drastic.
The latest film to get adapted is the 1999 classic ‘Fight Club.’ The original ending saw the main character (spoilers, if you haven’t seen the film), who suffers from a split identity disorder, shoot himself in the face to kill his alter ego, Tyler Durden, and then proceed to watch a bunch of corporate buildings explode, sending an anarchistic message about the dangers and trappings of a society obsessed with consumerism.
In the Chinese version, however, this ending is completely cut out and the viewer is instead informed that the police saved the day and stopped all the bombs from exploding. All of this is delivered in a simple caption that reads: “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Chinese censors proves that they are not just good at deleting contents by adding a happy ending to Fight Club.
— Henry Gao (@henrysgao) January 23, 2022
The film was released on Tencent Video and it’s unclear if the edit was the result of self-censorship on the part of the streaming service or the result of direct orders from the Chinese government, as neither has commented on the matter as of yet. However, a source familiar with the matter, according to Vice, said the film was edited by the copyright owner, and was sold to streaming sites after receiving government approval.
Released in 1999, most Chinese viewers seem to have already seen ‘Fight Club’ before, and after screenshots of the new ending went viral on Chinese social media, many have mocked the blatant censorship and said it is the main reason why most Chinese viewers prefer bootleg copies of foreign films.