“The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.” But apparently, the first rule in communist China is that the cops always win.
At least that’s the message being sent in the edited version of the cult classic 1999 film “Fight Club” starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Viewers began noticing the change on the edited version posted to China’s streaming platform Tencent Video, NBC News reported. In the original version, “Fight Club” ends with massive explosions to solidify the overall anarchistic narrative.
However, the censored version available in China cuts off before the bombs go off because police have ruined Norton’s plan. Instead, the screen fades to black and includes the text, “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”
Viewers were quick to address the edits on social media and in the comments. “Cheers to the great, great censorship,” one Tencent Video commenter said. Another agreed, “The cut is outrageous!”
But author Chuck Palahniuk, the man who wrote the original novel on which David Fincher’s film version was based, was apparently a fan of the new ending. Palahniuk tweeted a link to his Substack newsletter and said, “Have You Seen This Sh**? This is SUPER wonderful! Everyone gets a happy ending in China!”
In the newsletter, the “Fight Club” author expanded on his thoughts. “Tyler and the gang were all arrested. He was tried and sentenced to a mental asylum. How amazing. I’d no idea! Justice always wins. Nothing ever exploded. Fini.”
Palahniuk said in an interview with TMZ that the censored Chinese ending more closely resembles how his book wrapped up. In the “Fight Club” novel, the bombs malfunction and fail to detonate. Then Norton’s character shoots himself in the head and wakes up in a mental hospital believing he’s in heaven.
“The irony is that the way the Chinese have changed it is they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit.”
The author continued, “What I find really interesting is that my books are heavily banned throughout the U.S. The Texas prison system refuses to carry my books in their libraries. A lot of public schools and most private schools refuse to carry my books. But it’s only an issue once China changes the end of a movie?”
Palahniuk mentioned how he’s very used to having his work altered by outside forces.
“I’ve been putting up with book banning for a long time. A lot of my overseas publishers have edited the novel so the novel ends the way the movie ends,” he said. “So I’ve been dealing with this kind of revision for like 25 years.”
Foreign films are edited for Chinese audiences all the time by the ruling communist party. They are usually stripped of sexual or suggestive content, plus like in the case of “Fight Club,” movies must always depict law enforcement as the ultimate victors over criminals.