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Unknown Pleasures (2002)
"Ren xiao yao" (original title)

7.0
Your rating:
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,430 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 16 user | 38 critic | 10 from Metacritic.com

Two unemployed Chinese teenagers have trouble resisting the temptations of the Western world.

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(as ZhangKe Jia)

Writer:

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Cast

Credited cast:
Wei Wei Zhao ...
Bin Bin
Qiong Wu ...
Xiao Ji
...
Qiao Qiao
Qing Feng Zhou ...
Yuan Yuan
Hongwei Wang ...
Xiao Wu
Ru Bai ...
Bin Bin's mother
Xi An Liu ...
Xiao Ji's father
Shou Lin Xu ...
Sister Zhu
Ren Ai Jun ...
Hairdresser
Dao Xiao ...
Mr. Ren
Zi Ying ...
Concubine
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Zhubin Li ...
Qiao San
Ai Jun Ren ...
The Hairdresser
Limin Wang ...
The Karaoke Customer (as Wang Li Min)
Edit

Storyline

Two unemployed slackers, neither with job prospects nor motivation, hang out in sheltered town in China trying to make sense of their aimless and uncertain futures. As youths, they struggle for individual freedom and the social responsibility that comes along with it. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

|

Release Date:

22 January 2003 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Unknown Pleasures  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,918 (USA) (4 April 2003)

Gross:

$8,103 (USA) (4 April 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mandarin title refers to a song by Richie Ren See more »

Connections

References The Mirror (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Malaise and despair amidst the changes of China.
16 May 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Unknown Pleasures portrays Bin Bin and Xiao Ji, two young Chinese men living in the city of Datong, several hundred miles west of Beijing. Theirs is a city in transition; crowded streets and apartment blocks back onto building sites, weird landscapes of debris and raw materials. The growing commercialisation of Chinese society is readily apparent; in an early scene the duo attend a lurid road show promotion for alcoholic drinks. The television news that punctuates the film shows the changes and conflicts in China and the effect these are having across the world, from the controversial US spy plane crash to the award of the Olympic games for 2008.

The two young protagonists are outsiders in their changing city. Bin Bin, newly unemployed, lives with his mother. Unwilling – then unable – to find new employment, he becomes increasingly despondent. His relationship with his girlfriend, Yuan Yuan, is lived out in front of a television screen: they rarely make eye contact. The cultural void in his life feels remarkably Western. Xiao Ji works for his father's garage business. Whilst Bin Bin becomes increasingly downcast, Xiao Ji dreamily pursues Xiao Wu, a dancer with the aforementioned road show, risking the anger of her volatile boyfriend.

The overlapping stories of the two friends develop a common theme of loneliness and yearning on the fringes of a rapidly changing society. The sense of despair and malaise in their lives is powerfully conveyed, but the increasing aimlessness of their activities makes for slow and often difficult viewing. The final third of the film is particularly slow, with many drawn-out scenes. Despite this slackening of the pace, an unexpected twist at the end rams home the film's message that, along with the new freedoms in China, there is disenchantment with the new shape of society.


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