A bullied teenage girl forms an unlikely friendship with a mysterious young man who protects her from her assailants, all while she copes with the pressures of her final examinations.


Derek Tsang (as Kwok Cheung Tsang)


Wing-Sum Lam (screenplay by), Yuan Li (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
2,654 ( 2,237)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 57 wins & 75 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dongyu Zhou ... Chen Nian
Jackson Yee ... Xiao Bei
Fang Yin ... Zheng Yi
Ye Zhou ... Wei Lai
Yue Wu ... Chen Nian's Mother
Jue Huang ... Lao Yang (Police Detective)
Yifan Zhang ... Hu Xiaodie
Yao Zhang ... Li Xiang
Xinyi Zhang ... Xu Miao
Runnan Zhao ... Da Kang (as Allen Zhao)
Xuanming Gao Xuanming Gao ... Lai Zi
Xintong Xie Xintong Xie ... Wang Li
Ran Liu ... Luo Ting (as Ran)
Lüyun Heliao ... Punk Gang Leader (as Luyun Heliao)
Bozhan Ju Bozhan Ju ... Loan Shark


When it is time for the Chinese gaokao, the entire country comes to a standstill. For nearly ten million high school students, this two-day national college entrance exam will determine where and if they get to study. It is not uncommon for the fates of entire families to hinge on the results. Like so many others, Nian has been focused on preparing for the exam, at the exclusion of everything else and is all alone. A classmate has committed suicide and she has become the target of relentless bullying. Meanwhile, fate brings her together with small-time criminal Bei and the two of them seal a pact.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

friendship | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama | Family | Romance


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Did You Know?


Adapted from Jiuyue Xi's novel 'In His Youth, In Her Beauty' (the novel was also translated as Young and Beautiful by some sources). See more »


Chen Nian: Can you protect me? I don't have money to pay you.
See more »


Featured in The 93rd Oscars (2021) See more »


Für Alina
Written by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Min He
See more »

User Reviews

"If you weren't the bully, then you were being bullied."
10 November 2019 | by htmlfreakSee all my reviews

Every June, almost 10 million Chinese students sit for the National College Entrance Examination, or the "Gaokao". For many, this nine-hour exam is considered the most important deciding factor in a student's future: Success on the Gaokao is what determines acceptance to China's universities, which in turn determines one's future career.

Although Better Days was initially censored by the Chinese government, the decision was later changed and the movie began showing in theaters. It's not hard to see why it enticed controversy in the first place as it portrays the Gaokao as a high pressure environment that fosters bullying, mental illness, and suicide. It opens a window to a world where students study endless hours in cram schools for their chance at a good future. Accountability in bullying cases is a recurring theme that underlies the movie.

But don't get this wrong, this isn't a story about the Gaokao. This is a story about heartbreak. Heartbreak for students who are bullied by their peers. Heartbreak for single parents who put their hopes and dreams on their children. Heartbreak for those who love unconditionally and are willing to sacrifice everything. Dongyu Zhou (Soul Mate, Under the Hawthorn Tree) and Jackson Yee (TFboys) are deft as two halves of a love story while Director Derek Tsang masterfully captures the sheer range of both leads. The cinematography doesn't go unnoticed either as every shot has tremendous depth for those paying close attention.

Of the many lines that stand out in this movie, one that resonates particularly is "If you weren't the bully, then you were being bullied." To me, this is what makes the film so powerful: its ability to pull at your heart over and over again. Go out and see this film. When you leave the theater, reflect on what you saw. Wonder how despite how far we have come, we still have so much left to go.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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China | Hong Kong


Mandarin | English

Release Date:

25 October 2019 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

Better Days See more »

Filming Locations:

Chongqing, China


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$989,536, 10 November 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos | D-Cinema 48kHz 5.1 (Dolby Surround 5.1)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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