Jia Zhang-Ke's new film follows the lives of two 19 year old friends, Bin Bin and Xiao Ji who live in the provincial Chinese city of Datong. Disaffected and without jobs or ambition, they pass their days wandering around town on their motorbikes, hanging out at the smoky pool hall, and dreaming of girls and escape. Around them, China is changing; television informs them of their nation's rapidly developing political and economic role in the world and the steady encroachment of globalisation. One of the most exciting filmmaking talents to have emerged from China in recent years, Jia keeps the dramatic focus tightly reigned in this digitally shot, absorbing and searing portrait of contemporary China.
Wei Wei Zhao, Qiong Wu, Tao Zhao, Qing Feng Zhou, Hongwei Wang, Ru Bai, Xi An Liu, Shou Lin Xu, Ren Ai Jun, Dao Xiao, Zi Ying, Zhubin Li, Ai Jun Ren, Limin Wang
Gritty, real but ultimately boring.
- Unknown Pleasures review by Shatner's Bassoon
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You rated this film: 2
Unknown Pleasures focuses on the lives of two 19 year olds, Bin Bin and Xiao Ji. The two friends are considered as part of China's new generation; they drink Coca-Cola, chain smoke cigarettes, covet U.S. dollars, watch Hollywood movies, and dance to Western style music at the local club. As the films progresses the two contrasting sides of modern China are shown, the promise of the 2008 Olympics, new super highways and a stable economy are compared with the reality for most Chinese, few opportunities, unemployment and a general degradation of moral values. Overall, while there is some artistic and moral merit to this film, ultimately it's pretty dull viewing. Neither the characters nor story go anywhere, and even as a slow paced snapshot in the lives of two disaffected teens its painfully hard work to watch. And even as someone who watches a lot of Asian cinema 'Unknown Pleasures' was enough to put me off renting disk 2: 'Xiao Wu'. If you want to see a Chinese film with the same gritty feel but with more of a story try the excellent 'Not One Less' or 'Blind Shaft'.