‘Fight Club’ Doesn’t Take Long To End With Moans In China After Explosion Over Censorship

The cult movie “Fight Club” once again ended with a huge resounding among Chinese viewers after an online video platform quietly took down the version ending with a jarring note in support of the government. government.

Users of

Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The video streaming service by those who watched David Fincher’s 1999 film can now see Edward Norton holding Helena Bonham Carter’s hand as buildings crumble in a symphony of explosions.

Gone is a note at the end that says the police stopped the explosions and took Mr. Norton’s character for asylum.

The change, which users first noticed late last week, comes after Tencent caused a wave of global ridicule by uploading a censored version of “Fight Club” to its streaming platform on June 5. January. Tencent did not explain the new ending at the time, nor did it say why it restored the original ending.

The company declined to comment.

Censorship has become tighter – but also more opaque and less predictable – under Chinese leader Xi Jinping. For many of the country’s movie buffs, Tencent’s response to the “Fighting Club” outrage has only further confused the country.

One popular user wrote: “You never know where the red line is.

Twitter

-like Weibo platform after the original ending of the series is restored.

For decades, Chinese censors have demanded that scenes deemed sensitive or vulgar should be cut from officially imported foreign films and TV shows. In one famous example, 2007’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: End of the World” appeared in mainland theaters about half of the scenes are missing concerns a villain played by Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat after censors decide they embarrass the Chinese people.

In rare cases, Chinese authorities require elements to be added to movies as a means of censorship. Such was the case with the 2018 romantic fantasy film “The Shape of Water,” in which a dark swimsuit was added to cover the protagonist’s naked body during the bathing scene with his amphibian lover. hers.

But it’s not unusual for movies to be enhanced in a way that completely alters their ending. And in the case of “Fighting Club,” a film considered part of the anti-establishment rule has long been widely available to Chinese audiences through black-market DVDs, the inclusion of to a conclusion in favor of the establishment sparked ridicule both inside and outside the Nation.

On Zhihu, a site similar to Quora, users responded by suggesting fake alternate endings for other movies. One user imagined a new ending to the prison escape drama “Shawshank Redemption” in which Andy Dufresne, the main character, was unjustly convicted, placed under police house arrest and sentenced to extra prison time for “… The right thing cannot be done wrong. ”

In a recent episode, CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” responded to the “Fight Club” change with a series of new endings of its own, including a version of the “Star Wars” series. original 1977, in which the Evil Empire rebuilt the Death Star and imprisoned the rebels.

China’s regulations on censorship require films to avoid “confusing justice with injustice” and forbidding plots to “make fun of criminals”. To secure access to the lucrative mainland China market, filmmakers in Hong Kong have long been known to make two versions of crime films, one for mainland audiences with a winning ending. belongs to the police and a different version with opposite results for the rest of the world.

China’s regulators in charge of cinema and the internet did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It is not known who is responsible for the altered ending of “Fight Club” appearing on Tencent.

Last year, the platform also uploaded a new version of “Lord of War” 2005, in which the main character, an arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage, confessed and was sentenced to life in prison instead. for being released with the help of the US Government, as occurs in the original.

The “Lord of War” alternate ending, also described in a written note, remains on Tencent’s platform. The current version of “Fight Club”, although restored to its ending, still lacks some scenes involving nudity.

Other foreign films with similar themes have also encountered barriers in China. “V for Vendetta,” the 2005 incestuous action film that helped popularize the Guy Fawkes mask as an anti-establishment symbol, was removed from China’s top-grossing film database in 2020 despite being re-listed. well known to the local audience.

“Joker,” the 2019 horror film starring Joaquin Phoenix, never opened in Chinese theaters despite being one of the highest-grossing films of that year — a disappointment that many moviegoers shared. Chinese film buffs speculate it might be related to the film’s anarchic theme.

Chuck Palahniuk, the writer whose novel inspired the movie “Fight Club,” responded to the news of the altered ending with a Twitter post late last month: “This is SUPER awesome. Everyone has a happy ending in China!”

In an interview with entertainment website TMZ, Mr. Palahniuk said he finds the grumbling of Americans ironic, noting that some of his books have been banned outright in some schools in the country. America. He added that the new Chinese ending is a closer reflection of his book, which ends with the bomb not exploding and the protagonist waking up in a mental hospital. He said overseas publishers changed the ending of his book to make it more like the movie.

Some Chinese social media users seized on the author’s comments, arguing that the censorship was justified. Many viewers mocked the decision, with some questioning why a film deemed critical of American capitalism needed to be changed.

Some Weibo users borrowed a phrase from Mr. Xi to mock the episode “Fighting Club”, saying it showed “confidence in our culture.”

Write letter for Wenxin Fan at Wenxin.Fan@wsj.com

Edit & Amplify
The movie “Fighting Club” was misspelled as “Airplane Club” in two references to an earlier version of this article. (Fixed on February 7th)

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/fight-club-no-longer-ends-with-a-whimper-in-china-following-explosion-over-censorship-11644234434 ‘Fight Club’ Doesn’t Take Long To End With Moans In China After Explosion Over Censorship

Ethan Gach

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