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Unknown Pleasures

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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(Mar 16, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

UNKNOWN PLEASURES follows two 19-year olds, Bin Bin and Xiao, as they wander the streets and hang out in pool halls, dance clubs and karaoke bars looking for excitement. Sparks fly when Xiao Ji meets a beautiful dancer, and Bin Bin pursues romance with a young student. Taking a cue from American crime movies, the temptation of easy money becomes too alluring and in a final attempt to break free, Xiao Ji and Bin Bin embark on half-baked plan to rob a bank.

A harrowing account of disillusioned young people living in China, beautifully photographed by famed cinematographer Yu Lik-wai, UNKNOWN PLEASURES cements Zhang-ke's reputation as one of China's most important filmmakers.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Ren Ai Jun, Ru Bai, Xi An Liu, Ai Jun Ren, Juan Antonio Samaranch
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: March 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001AOYGA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,182 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Unknown Pleasures" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Several reviewers in their otherwise thoughtful summaries misrepresented the location of this film. It's not set in Shanghai or Beijing, but in a town in Shanxi Province (I'm pretty sure it was Datong).

Provincial Shanxi is a very different thing from Shanghai or Beijing, both of which are huge, world cities with strong cosmopolitan elements - far from the closed, limited environment depicted in this film. Part of the dilemma of these kids is that there isn't much for them to do in a provincial town in Shanxi, which from the look of it has missed out on China's "economic miracle."

Anyway, this is the second of Jia Zhangke's films that I've seen, and though I thought there were a few too many lengthy shots of Xiao Ji wrestling with his motorcycle, it's well-worth your time if you want to gain some insight into China in transition. Dramatically I found it to be a much stronger film than PLATFORM, which is also really interesting for the sociological insight, but for me was difficult to follow - too many characters who were not clearly drawn and whose stories lacked dramatic tension. The characters in UNKNOWN PLEASURES are recognizable; their stories, while not particularly uplifting or optimistic, are real and poignant.

I'd watch this one in a double-bill with BLIND SHAFT (excellent "film noir meets documentary realism"), and then I'd go play with kittens and puppies to cheer myself up.
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Format: DVD
for those who are not familiar with chinese films AND china's reality, it is easy AND WRONG to regard crouching tigers, hidden dragon, flying daggers, and hero as "good" or "representitive" of china's film industry. in fact, they received largely mockery besides admiration for their scenaries and music--to verify this, simply read some online bbs;). compared with jia zhangke's movies, these movies are less than chewing gums.

for chinese people, jia zhangke's 3 major films --xiaowu ¬*, unknown pleasures "Cç--y, platform â‹`ä) are the best they've had for years. the unknown pleasures of watching them --repeatedly, if the guessing is right--are great. jia's 4th major movie, "the world" is to be shown 5 days from now,on april 9, 2005, the first of his movies granted a screen in public,and is also likely to be genuinely loved and deservedly acclaimed. i can't wait to buy a ticket ;)

there are some english artilces on him and his films. there will be more. i personally think his achievement has shadowed zhang yimou,jiang wen, and gu changwei(director of peacock) --a good thing, since we all believe in competition raising the standards.

as to "unknown pleasures", i can flag the standard words like "classic", "heart-renching", "deeply moving", "five-star", "2 thumbs up" etc. etc. but for me, i like to think of it, and his other movies, as something i have been looking for, found, and will hold to. The pleasures, yes. Unknown? A pity.
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Format: DVD
A tale of modern China where school graduates have not much to do while mafia developed all skills exhibited explicitly in movies already.
Eighteen plus boys attempted to rob a bank following the western movies' examples.

Interesting story of local culture and living.
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Format: DVD
Datong,an industrial city in Shanxi province,the film opens with Bin Bin riding his motorbike into it in the opening shots.The new dawn of globalization shows the opening up of this outpost to Beijing, the new motorway,the internet and karaoke,like splinters of frivolous violence,bringing sensuality into the industrial monochrome.The two main characters,Bin Bin and Xiao Ji are our slacker representatives,both unemployed,looking for work,women or unknown pleasures.They don't so much talk,as move,listen or react,to those moments which are important to them or hard to forget.

Director Jia Zhang-Ke made this film after making a documentary here,drawn to the idea of a post-planned economy, the feelings of bleakness and abandonment of old,shabby,closed up and broken-down factories,as the perfect symbol of these young people's condition.Both Bin Bin and Xiao are teenagers,drifting dreamers inhabiting public spaces, where the lottery is broadcast on speakers,young people lounge about smoking or playing cards,playing pool in pool halls,people watch TV or sing karaoke.The young men having nothing much to do all day,idle around,go around on their motor-bikes,to fill in the boredom of their days.As children of unemployed parents,their prospects are dismal.Disaffected and without ambition.they have time on their hands to hang out,dreaming of girls and escape.

The encroaching globalization comes through the TV,China and the Olympics,an explosion in a textile plant,the collision of US and Chinese planes,the entry of China into the WTO.Xiao Ji chases Quiao Quiao,a dancer-cum-singer-cum-prostitute,despite her boyfriend,a local pimp and gangster, and being roughed up by his goons.He says he'll soften her like instant noodles.
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