Unknown Pleasures (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Unknown Pleasures (2003)

Unknown Pleasures (2003)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Unknown Pleasures Photos

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 market, but he doesn't tell his mother (Bai Ru). When she finds out, she wants him to join the army. His less circumspect friend, Xiao Ji (Wu Qiong), stalks a flashy performer, Qiao Qiao (Zhao Tao), who promotes Mongolian King liquor and dates a gangster. The gangster doesn't appreciate Xiao Ji's attentions and slaps him around. Qiao Qiao seems to like him, but as free-spirited as she seems, she's afraid to defy her violent boyfriend. Bin Bin tries selling bootleg DVDs on the street to earn a living. One of his customers, a thug named Xiao Wu (Wang Hong Wei) complains that Bin Bin doesn't carry underground titles like Pickpocket and Platform (writer-director Jia Zhang Ke's previous features), but is pleased to find Pulp Fiction. Inspired by the latter film's opening, Bin Bin and Xiao Ji plot an ill-fated bank robbery. Unknown Pleasures showed in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and was also selected for the 2002 New York Film Festival.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Tao Zhao
as Qiao Qiao
Wei Wei Zhao
as Bin Bin
Qiong Wu
as Xiao Ji
Hong Wei Wang
as Xiao Wu
Qing Feng Zhou
as Yuan Yuan
Wang Hong Wei
as Xiao Wu
Bai Ru
as Bin Bin's Mother
Liu Xi An
as Xiao ji's Father
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Unknown Pleasures

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (8)

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

Full Review… | January 11, 2008
Top Critic

[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.

Full Review… | January 11, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Lays bare the tao of contemporary China, like a doctor taking a pulse.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Too much is left unsaid.

Full Review… | April 11, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

A stunning study of ennui.

March 26, 2003
New York Post
Top Critic

May be Jia's most concentrated evocation of contemporary China's spiritual malaise.

March 25, 2003
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Unknown Pleasures


A story of disaffected youth in modern-day China. Provides some interesting insights into Chinese version of Socialist society, but aside from that, not the most exciting cinematic experience. A well-made movie though, clearly influenced by Western cinema.

Gabriel Knight
Gabriel Knight

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.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

Zhangke Jia's films are very royal to the basic cinematic languages and very original at the same time. His style is already well-established in this third feature of his. Story and what all scenes mean completely depend on how each audience thinks. Although for some people, this film is more boring than anything else, but for some people, this is more interesting than anything else. This auteur is worth to keep ur eye on.

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

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