Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Unknown Pleasures 2002

Ren Xiao Yao

Directed by Jia Zhang-ke

France / Japan / Korea In Mandarin with English subtitles
113 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Ichiyama Shozo
Li Kit-Ming


Yu Lik Wai


Chow Keung


Zhao Tao (Qiao Qiao)
Zhao Wei Wei (Bin Bin)
Wu Qiong (Xiao Ji)
Zhou Qing Feng (Yuan Yuan)
Wang Hong Wei (Xiao Wu)
Bai Ru (Bin Bin’s mother)
Liu Xi An (Xiao Ji’s father)


Cannes (Competition), Toronto, New York, Vancouver, London 2002; Rotterdam 2003


Weighing up the lousy prospects of young Chinese on the scruffy fringes of the new market economy, Jia Unknown Pleasures, like its characters, has a terrific, gritty authenticity. Bin Bin and Xiao Ji are teenage boys at a loose end in the dusty provincial city of Datong, their heads jumping with western pop culture. Xiao Ji fancies Qiao Qiao, a singer in a tacky liquor promotion and the girlfriend of a local loan shark. Bin Bin is involved, sort of, with a clean-cut college-bound student. Trouble happens. Shooting on digital video, Jia Zhangke, the most striking of ‘new, new generation’ Chinese directors, nails the fractious energy of the streets, the video parlours, noodle joints and karaoke bars, while surpassing the visual accomplishment of his earlier Xiao Wu and Platform.

“A triumphant blend of documentary and drama, Unknown Pleasures is sensational filmmaking.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice 

“A must-see… the most gifted and stylistically and thematically contemporary Chinese filmmaker to have emerged in years.” — Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader