Flowers of Shanghai (Hai shang hua)
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Shanghai, the 1880s, four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (the 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 Chekov 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 Luo, a patron. Pearl, an aging flower, schools the willful Jade, who thinks she has a marriage agreement with young… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The film opens with a brilliant seven-minute take; the languid yet precise cinematography throughout gives it the seductive power of a drug-induced dream."
‑ Berenice Reynaud, Chicago Reader
"Sympathetically depicts ... consuming, love-sick ennui."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
"Hou's a gifted director, as even his poorer films are quite good."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"It's beautiful to look at, but you must have patience to enjoy it."
‑ Marta Barber, Miami Herald
"Each scene of Flowers is like an exquisite and decorous mural, worth studying."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
"Contains an artistry, beauty, restraint, and patience that perhaps only Stanley Kubrick, Max Ophuls, or Kenji Mizoguchi possessed."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Flowers of Shanghai is a beautiful, tantalizingly oblique, and thoroughly hypnotic film, a work so sensual that one can nearly smell the perfume wafting from the screen."
‑ Rob Nelson, City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"It probably isn't Hou's best film, but perhaps it is his prettiest."
‑ Jeremy Heilman,
More reviews for Flowers of Shanghai (Hai shang hua) on Rotten Tomatoes