Chinese ‘Fight Club’ Rule Number One: The Police Always Win | Culture


The first rule of Fight club in China is that the police always defeat criminals. The second rule of Fight club in China is that the police forever defeat criminals. The third rule of Fight club in China is that buildings are not demolished. The fourth rule of Fight club in China is that you can change the endings of movies to make them comply with the rules.

David Fincher’s 1999 cult film, once only shown in theaters in China during one edition of the Shanghai festival, is now available on streaming services. streaming of the technology giant Tencent in this country. But with a different outcome.

In the original ending, the Narrator character, played by Edward Norton, has just “killed” his alter ego, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), and watches the explosion of several nearby buildings with his girlfriend Maria (Helena Bonham-Carter). The anarchist revolution advocated by Durden – the ending suggests – is underway.

The Tencent version, on the other hand, ends the original film with Durden’s “death”. No explosions and no Tyler and Maria holding hands as they look at them. Instead of this scene, he offers a fade to black, which reads that the police “arrested all the criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from going off.” According to this alternate ending, Durden was sent to a psychiatric hospital, from which he was released in 2012.

Screenshots of that fade to black with the “new” text went viral over the weekend in China, with netizens lamenting the change in outcome. Although the film was barely seen in theaters, many fans had been able to see the original film in bootleg versions over the past two decades, and fans considered the original ending one of the reasons for the film’s success.

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“When a director comes to present his film in China, people will ask him: director, why is your film so avant-garde that it completely abandons audiovisual language and the ending is simply a poster with a story about respecting the law? Does it represent a satire on censorship in your country? And the director will answer: what do you say? I have filmed that?” laughed a user of Weibo, the Chinese Twitter. “Probably everyone in Ocean’s Eleven They would also be arrested. and the family of The Godfather completely, too”, mocked another. “But the ending was very good! Some foreigners in a terrible situation and setting off terrorist bombs, a perfect scene to stimulate (Chinese) nationalism,” satirised a third.

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Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in 'Bohemian Rhapsody', a film that was also cut in China.
Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, a film that was also cut in China.

It is unclear whether it was Tencent or the film’s original producers who made the change. On the Douban film review portal, the original film reaches a rating of nine out of a maximum of ten and receives 744,000 comments.

It is not the only case in which part of a Hollywood film is altered to adapt it to the demands of Chinese censorship. The US market, where just over 30 foreign films are released on the big screen a year, overtook the US market for the first time in 2020, due in part to a better pace of recovery from the pandemic. According to, it is expected to raise $16.5 billion by 2026, a 30.1% annual growth from $3.4 billion in 2020.

In 2019, the scenes of the film Bohemian Rhapsody that alluded to Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality were carefully cut out of the Chinese version. Although love between same-sex couples is not illegal in the world’s second largest economy, it is considered a sensitive issue and scenes depicting it are frequently, but not always, removed. Theoretically they are prohibited on television and, since 2017, in broadcasts by streaming.

The end of 'Lord of War', starring Nicholas Cage, also underwent changes in its broadcast in China.
The end of ‘Lord of War’, starring Nicholas Cage, also underwent changes in its broadcast in China.

Logan (2017), from the series X Men, suffered a 14-minute cut of scenes deemed too violent for Chinese audiences.

A fate similar to that of Fight club He had Lord of War (2005). In the original version of it, the protagonist played by Nicholas Cage, an arms dealer, manages to evade jail and resume his shady business. The film also recalls that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) are the main sellers of weapons on the planet. But the version for the Chinese market, half an hour shorter than the international one, withdraws that outcome, which it also replaces with a text stating that the trafficker “confessed to all the crimes of which he was officially accused in the trial, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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