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Flowers of Shanghai (1998)

Hai shang hua (original title)
Unrated | | Drama | 17 October 1998 (Japan)
Trailer
1:27 | Trailer
In the "flower houses" (upscale brothels) of Shanghai, various interweaving stories of love, loyalty, and deceit play out subtly.

Director:

Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Writers:

Eileen Chang (translation), T'ien-wen Chu | 1 more credit »
Reviews
6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung ... Wang (as Tony Chiu Wai Leung)
Michiko Hada Michiko Hada ... Crimson
Michelle Reis ... Emerald
Carina Lau ... Pearl
Jack Kao ... Luo
Rebecca Pan ... Huang
Vicky Wei ... Jasmin
Hsuan Fang Hsuan Fang ... Jade
Annie Shizuka Inoh ... Golden Flower
Ming Hsu ... Tao
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Josephine A. Blankstein Josephine A. Blankstein ... (as An-an Hsu)
Pauline Chan ... (voice)
Shui Chit Cheung Shui Chit Cheung
Hui-ni Hsu Hui-ni Hsu ... Shu-Fang's sister
Firebird Liu
Edit

Storyline

In Shanghai in the 1880s there are four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (called madam), a courtesan in her prime, older servants, and maturing girls in training. The men gather around tables of food, playing drinking games. An opium pipe is at hand. The women live within dark-paneled walls. The atmosphere is stifling, as if Chekhov was in China. The melancholy Wang is Crimson's patron; will he leave her for the younger Jasmin? Emerald schemes to buy her freedom, aided by patron Luo. Pearl, an aging flower, schools the willful Jade, who thinks she has a marriage agreement with young master Zhu. Is she dreaming? Women fade, or connive, or despair. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Taiwan | Japan

Language:

Cantonese | Shanghainese

Release Date:

17 October 1998 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Flowers of Shanghai See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

3H Productions, Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film consists of 38 long shots. See more »

Connections

Featured in I Wish I Knew (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Challenging but magnificent...
5 November 2004 | by Balthazar-5See all my reviews

I saw this film at Cannes where delegates, including would-be intelligent critics emerged from the film scratching their heads and mumbling 'interesting' - a sure sign that they couldn't understand a word of it. For me it had been an epiphanous experience.

Six months later Cahiers du Cinema voted it the best film of its year...

I am sure there is a word to describe the effect of the film, but I can't lay my hand on it, so I will say 'emotionally disjoint'. As the men sit around playing Mah Jong talking, generally of trivia, huge emotional dramas are going on, but obliquely, in relation to the girls in the brothel. The effect is crushing.

I thought, while watching, mainly of Jean-Marie Straub as it has a minimalist side, but with such greater emotional power and resonance. It is so tragic that this magnificent film has had such a poor release in the west - no theatrical distribution at all in the UK...


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