Original Fight Club ending restored in China after backlash

·2-min read

‘Dystopian’ reversal of 1999 cult film’s ending showed police winning out

The Chinese streaming platform Tencent Video has restored the original ending to the film Fight Club after it amended the Chinese edition to tell viewers police had “rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals”, prompting a widespread backlash.

The wholesale reversal of the anti-capitalist, anarchist denouement to the 1999 hit film, which stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, made international headlines last month.

In the edited version, Edward Norton’s character, the narrator, still kills off his imaginary alter ego Tyler Durden, but a subsequent scene showing high-rise buildings being bombed was cut. Instead, viewers were shown a blank screen with text telling them authorities had won out.

“The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” the text said. “After the trial Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”

Beijing has some of the world’s most restrictive censorship rules with authorities approving only a handful of foreign films for release each year – sometimes with major cuts. But reversing endings is rare.

The changes came to light after viewers in China who had seen the original watched the locally available edition. Censorship or banning of foreign films in China is common, but the wholesale reversal of Fight Club’s ending drew shock and mirth.

“Fight Club on Tencent Video tells us that they don’t just delete scenes, but add to the plot too,” one user complained at the time. Human Rights Watch described the cuts as “dystopian”.

Over the weekend the original ending was restored, according to domestic social media film accounts. That decision too drew criticism. Some netizens said it showed that Tencent was admitting that the original censorship was “too much”. Another asked: “If the original version can also be launched, why did Tencent modify it without authorisation?

Tencent has been contacted for comment.

Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu.

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