Hou Hsiao-hsien

Flowers of Shanghai

Flowers of Shanghai

An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, this gorgeous period reverie by Hou Hsiao-hsien traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around four late-nineteenth-century Shanghai “flower houses,” where the courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor but forced to work to buy back their freedom. Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), whose relationship with his longtime mistress (Michiko Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal. Composed in a languorous procession of entrancing long takes, Flowers of Shanghai evokes a vanished world of decadence and cruelty, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains tantalizingly offscreen—even as its emotional fallout registers with quiet devastation.

Film Info

  • Hou Hsiao-hsien
  • Taiwan
  • 1998
  • 113 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • Shanghainese, Cantonese
  • Spine #1077

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Hou Hsiao-hsien and director of photography Mark Lee Ping-bing, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New introduction by critic Tony Rayns
  • Beautified Realism, a new documentary by Daniel Raim and Eugene Suen on the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Lee, producer and editor Liao Ching-sung, production designer Hwarng Wern Ying, and sound recordist Tu Duu-chih
  • Excerpts from a 2015 interview with Hou, recorded for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oral History Project
  • Trailer
  • English subtitle translation by Rayns
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Jean Ma and a 2009 interview with Hou conducted by scholar Michael Berry

    New cover by Victo Ngai

Purchase Options

Coming soon, available May 18, 2021

Special Features

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Hou Hsiao-hsien and director of photography Mark Lee Ping-bing, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New introduction by critic Tony Rayns
  • Beautified Realism, a new documentary by Daniel Raim and Eugene Suen on the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Lee, producer and editor Liao Ching-sung, production designer Hwarng Wern Ying, and sound recordist Tu Duu-chih
  • Excerpts from a 2015 interview with Hou, recorded for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oral History Project
  • Trailer
  • English subtitle translation by Rayns
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Jean Ma and a 2009 interview with Hou conducted by scholar Michael Berry

    New cover by Victo Ngai
Flowers of Shanghai
Cast
Tony Leung Chiu-wai
Master Wang
Michiko Hada
Crimson
Michelle Reis
Emerald
Carina Lau Ka Ling
Pearl
Jack Kao
Master Luo
Rebecca Pan
Huang
Vicky Wei
Jasmin
Hsuan Fang
Jade
Annie Shizuka Inoh
Golden Flower
Ming Hsu
Master Tao
Credits
Director
Hou Hsiao-hsien
Produced by
Hou Hsiao-hsien
Shozo Ichiyama
Screenplay by
Chu Tien-wen
Based on “The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai” by
Han Bangqing
In a translation by
Eileen Chang
Music by
Yoshihiro Hanno
Cinematography by
Mark Lee Ping Bing
Film editing by
Liao Ching-sung
Sound by
Tu Duu-chih
Production design by
Hwarng Wern Ying