‘Fight Club’ Receives Alternative Ending on Chinese Streaming Service

By Nicholas Dolinger
Nicholas Dolinger
Nicholas Dolinger
Nicholas Dolinger is a business reporter for The Epoch Times.
January 26, 2022Updated: January 26, 2022

News Analysis

The cult classic U.S. movie “Fight Club” has found its way to popular Chinese streaming service Tencent—albeit with a new ending, possibly as a result of Chinese regime censorship.

Those familiar with the movie will likely remember its ending, in which Edward Norton’s unnamed protagonist, after having “killed” his alter-ego Tyler Durden, reconvenes with Marla Singer, his tempestuous love interest, just in time to watch the demolition of the city skyline—the culmination of Project Mayhem, a terroristic plot to bring about the destruction of Western civilization, carried out by the protagonist’s underground fight club-cum-anarchist insurgency.

However, for users of the Chinese streaming app Tencent, the ending might be a bit different from what they remember. In lieu of the original movie’s concluding spectacle of destruction set to the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” viewers of the revised version are greeted with an underwhelming intertitle that drastically alters the plot.

“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 film’s new title card reads. “After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”

It’s unclear whether the edit was made on the initiative of the companies involved or at the behest of the Chinese regime. Tencent didn’t respond to a request for comment concerning the alteration.

Epoch Times Photo
U.S. actor Edward Norton arrives at the premiere of “Fight Club” in Los Angeles on Oct. 6, 1999. (Lucy Nicholson/AFP via Getty Images)

The new title card is baffling, not least because it has been established by this point in the film that Tyler was always a figment of the protagonist’s subconsciousness and that he has already “killed” prior to this point in the story. Assuming that the author intended “Tyler” to refer to the unnamed protagonist, the alternative ending still constitutes a non-sequitur in the thematic arc of the movie.

While the slapdash alternative ending is a jarring reminder of Chinese censorship, it’s no small feat that “Fight Club made it onto Chinese streaming at all. The movie glamorizes a violent terrorist cell opposing rampant consumerism and the drudgery of the post-industrial working grind. Seen through this light, the fact that “Fight Club” appears on Tencent even in this diminished form is a subversive anomaly.

“Fight Club” is a peculiar artifact of the Y2K era, portraying a malaise that’s particular to Generation X, but retains universal qualities. The movie reacts to the era famously characterized by political scientist Francis Fukuyama as “the end of history,” violently rejecting the promise of endless liberal democracy, endless U.S. hegemony, and an endless nine-to-five workweek for the American everyman.

Two decades later, it’s apparent that such a future was spectral and narrow-minded, grounded more in national hubris than an honest account of world geopolitics. The fact of “Fight Club’s” apparent censorship by the Chinese regime (or the proactive efforts of tech companies to avoid such censorship) inadvertently makes for a much more relevant statement to current times: The end of history is over, with the fantasy of radical political subversion being replaced by a black title card attesting to the triumph of the state over its dissident subjects. Little could be more appropriate to describe the state of media under the People’s Republic of China.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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