Flowers of Shanghai (Hai shang hua)
Flowers of Shanghai (Hai shang hua) (1998)

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… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: November 1, 1998
DVD Release Date: August 14, 2001
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Critic Score: 90% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Berenice Reynaud
Chicago Reader

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.

Full review…
Nick Schager
Lessons of Darkness

Sympathetically depicts ... consuming, love-sick ennui.

Full review…
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Hou's a gifted director, as even his poorer films are quite good.

Full review…
Marta Barber
Miami Herald

It's beautiful to look at, but you must have patience to enjoy it.

Full review…
Jeffrey Overstreet
Looking Closer

Each scene of Flowers is like an exquisite and decorous mural, worth studying.

Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid

Contains an artistry, beauty, restraint, and patience that perhaps only Stanley Kubrick, Max Ophuls, or Kenji Mizoguchi possessed.

Full review…
Rob Nelson
City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

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.

Full review…
Jeremy Heilman

It probably isn't Hou's best film, but perhaps it is his prettiest.

Full review…

Flixster Audience Score: 79% Flixster User Reviews
Bob Stinson
Multiple viewings in a theater setting MIGHT get this more stars. ... could also induce suicide.
Krystle Chow
Hou Hsiao Hsien's play-like story of a famed brothel (Flower House) in Shanghai is a study of manners in late 19-century China. Sublimely restrained in… More
Carlos Magalh„es
A gorgeous-looking film with a beautiful art direction and a camera that appears to glide through the sumptuous spaces and rooms of those four brothels in 38… More
Stella Dallas
moving very slowly from one blackout scene to the next, beautifully shot in the candlelit rooms of various brothels of the 19th century, flowers of shanghai… More