Skip to content
Eye Logo link to homepageEye Film Museum Logo, link to homepage
still Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, JP/TW 1998)

Flowers of Shanghai

Hou Hsiao-hsien / JP, TW, 1998 / 114 min.

Hou focuses on the emotional life of five prostitutes at a time when Shanghai was still a British concession. A stylish study of a professional group, starring Tony Leung as a brothel-frequenting civil servant.

poster Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, JP/TW 1998)
Tony Leung and other stars of Asian cinema play the lead roles in this historical drama about British-run brothels in late 19th-century Shanghai. Civil servant and frequent visitor Wang (Tony Leung) observes the social realities of life in these secluded houses. The prostitutes find protectors here, marriages are made, business deals are concluded and there is plenty of opium to go round.

Flowers of Shanghai is a visually overwhelming study of a professional group at the time of the Qíng dynasty. The filmmaker subtly expresses the emotions of the prostitutes without using too many words, emphasizing their isolation with precise mise-en-scène. The camera slowly moves from one end of the room to the other and back again. A stunning period piece with sumptuous costumes, magnificent masks and splendid sets.

This is part of


This movie contains scenes with alcohol and/or drug usePersons under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult


Hou Hsiao-hsien

Production year




Original title

Haishang hua


114 min.


Yue Chinese





Part of

Eye Classics

Eye’s collection includes a wealth of classics. With the Eye Classics series, Eye brings film history even closer. Every week, we screen at least three classics from the collection under one recognisable name: Eye Classics.

Learn more
campaign image Eye Classics
still Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, JP/TW 1998)
still Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien, JP/TW 1998)
Planning on having a drink or a bite to eat? Book online for Eye Bar Restaurant.
Share your love for film and become a member of the Eye Society.

Current exhibition

  • 8 June — 29 September 2024

    Albert Serra


Films, talks & events

Show everything

for anytime

in all languages

Sort by