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Unknown Pleasures

Unknown Pleasures (2002)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 1,333

My Rating

Movie Info

Unknown Pleasures takes place in China, in the small city of Datong, in 2001, where disaffected teenagers look for any kind of excitement to enliven their dreary existence. Bin Bin (Zhao Wei Wei) dates a quiet student, Yuan Yuan (Zhou Qing Feng) who's thinking of going to university in Beijing. They spend their time together holding hands, watching karaoke and Monkey King videos, and despairing for the future. Bin Bin envies the Monkey King his freedom. Bin Bin has quit his job at a local


Art House & International, Drama


Zhang Ke Jia

Mar 16, 2004

New Yorker Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (10) | DVD (7)

Jia creates some poignant images to convey key transitions in the characters' lives.

January 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
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[Director Zhang-ke] Jia's virtuoso long takes, choreographed mise en scene, and feeling for character and behavior place him in a class by himself.

January 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Lays bare the tao of contemporary China, like a doctor taking a pulse.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Too much is left unsaid.

April 11, 2003 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A stunning study of ennui.

March 26, 2003
New York Post
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May be Jia's most concentrated evocation of contemporary China's spiritual malaise.

March 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the better films of the 21st century.

March 29, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The film just sits there, staring back at us.

June 27, 2003 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Jia Zhang Ke delivers what may well be his finest work to date.

June 24, 2003 Full Review Source: BBC

In its effort to evoke pity, Unknown Pleasures chiefly evokes agitation and frustration.

May 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Oregonian

despite the distinct lack of good times and belly laughs, Unknown Pleasures is a great film.

April 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Despite the fact that there's little dramatic arc, little dialogue and little joy in the lives of its characters, Unknown Pleasures is riveting.

April 7, 2003 Full Review Source:

[Music] has the ability to connect with everyone, and perhaps international audiences will connect with the Chinese youth of Unknown Pleasures for the exact same reason.

April 4, 2003 Full Review Source:

Hard to turn away from, but also damn hard to sit through ... there is a difference between inspiring a sense of alienation in one's audience, and merely alienating them

April 4, 2003 Full Review Source:

This sequel to Jia's excellent 1997 drama Xiao Wu is less original and absorbing than its predecessor, and less visually impressive than Platform.

April 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

While there are some beautifully shot, subtle moments in the film that encapsulate the desperation and degradation of the characters, the director ends up alienating his audience in an attempt to display the alienation of his characters.

March 31, 2003
Boxoffice Magazine

The actors in Unknown Pleasures generate sympathy from their sullen good looks as much as any acting ability.

March 29, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

An occasionally fascinating but ultimately undercooked portrait of the young and disaffected.

March 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Citysearch

There's a telling disjunction between the dismal lives of Jia's characters and the optimism of China's officially sunny advance into the 21st century.

March 26, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Captures the complex weave of life in contemporary China...

February 2, 2003 Full Review Source: All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Unknown Pleasures

I understand what was being done and being said, but in the end it just fails to captivate its viewer. The shots are just too long and the characters are not interesting enough for a two hour movie centered around character development. Shooting this on digital video was a nice choice, but that's about the best thing I can say about this. It was the only sense of realism that worked. The influences of this are bright as day and it's easy to conclude that they are all movies i'd rather have watched instead of this.
April 18, 2011

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Foreign Titles

  • Unknown Pleasures (Ren xiao yao) (DE)
  • Unknown Pleasures (Ren xiao yao) (UK)
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