‘Fight Club’ Ending Scene Was Completely Cut in China’s Version of the 1999 Hit Film
It can be fascinating to see how movies are changed to fit the needs and expectations of different audiences around the globe. Often popular TV shows and movies get remade for audiences in different countries, but some of the most interesting changes come when the original has been altered.
That was the case for Fight Club when it was released on the streaming service Tencent Video China. While many films are banned outright, the Chinese edit took the dramatic step of rewriting the ending, likely to better fit cultural norms of authority.
‘Fight Club’ is a sharp critique of capitalism
Fight Club is definitely a political film, but its overall ethos can be a bit hard to pin down. The movie is based on a book by the same name written by Chuck Palahniuk.
In both the book and the film, an unnamed protagonist (Edward Norton) meets a man named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) on an airplane. Soon, their lives are intertwined in unexpected ways, and the narrator finds himself with a strange source of escape from the crushing ennui of his typical American existence.
What starts out as attending support groups where he doesn’t belong turns into participating in an underground fight club. As Tyler urges him on, the narrator becomes more and more engrossed in a life of soap making and crime. Before he knows just how it has happened, his home has become the center of a cult-like group of Tyler’s followers all seeking a sense of belonging and a way to escape the monotony of capitalism.
The power struggle between the narrator and Tyler comes to a head as they’ve been competing over different worldviews (the narrator thinks the scheme has gone too far) and vying for the love of a woman named Marla (Helena Bonham Carter). By the time it’s revealed that there is no battle other than the one in the narrator’s own mind and that Tyler is his alter-ego, the plot has exploded — literally.
China cut the original ‘Fight Club’ ending
As Insider reports, the 1999 film recently hit a streaming service in China, but viewers were not given the film’s original ending.
In the Chinese version of Fight Club, the police save the day and thwart the final would-be terrorist act from happening. This reveal isn’t done through action on the screen but rather demonstrated with a title card. “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” the card reads.
As for our protagonist, the Chinese ending has him sent to a psychiatric facility: “After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
The Chinese ending melds two different versions
While some will undoubtedly take issue with an ending that thwarts individualist rebellion through institutional power, this new ending is a bit closer to the book’s than the original film.
In the film, the narrator successfully kills off his alter-ego before watching the skyline explode in Tyler’s final violent display of rebellious protest. The book sets up a similar explosion, but the detonation never occurs. Tyler has mixed up the chemicals incorrectly, and the narrator is taken into custody where he — like in the Chinese edit — will be sent to a psychiatric facility.
Unlike the edited ending, however, Project Mayhem is not put to an end with the narrator being taken into custody. Instead, employees at the psychiatric facility reveal that they are actually members of Tyler’s sprawling underground army, and any sense of relief that “Tyler” has been killed off is replaced by the understanding that the movement he started cannot be so easily stopped. The narrator may have faced his own inner demons, but not before they had spread far beyond his reach.