Flowers of Shanghai（海上花）
Flowers of Shanghai is a 1998 film, made in Taiwan, directed by Guangdong-born Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien starring Hada Michiko, Annie Shizuka Inoh, Shuan Fang, Jack Kao, Carina Lau, Tony Leung, Rebecca Pan, Michelle Reis and Vicky Wei. It was voted the third best film of the 1990s in the 1999 Village Voice Film Poll.
Subtitles note that the girl Crimson is in Huifang, Pearl is in Gongyang, Emerald is in Shangren, and Jasmine is in East Hexing. The relations of the rich gentlemen with the courtesans is partly monogamous and is held to an obligation of many years. The life of the graceful, well-bred girls, who were young when bought, resembles in certain respects a life of slavery. Because of the oppressing social conventions, they dream to pay off their debts, or to marry into the freedom and higher conditions.
The silent master Wang leaves the courtesan Crimson in favor of Jasmine, for which it was within only 10 days of a fire and flame after (allegedly) 2½ years. He offers to settle Crimson's debts. Wang sees himself in repeated connections and between hardening fronts. Dependence turns out as reciprocal. Crimson has only master Wang as a customer, and must sustain herself from his money to feed her entire family. Emerald was worth 100 dollars as a child once. Master Luo wants to redeem that value. The prostitute Silver Phoenix is abused by her drawing mother. Master Wang has a drunken rage accumulation, and lets it loose, when he finds out that Crimson goes foreign.
A contract over Emerald is put into play, and a notary comes to log the inventory. Allegedly Wang strikes Jasmine, who then attempts to commit suicide. Jade tries to poison her customer, with whom she had sworn her eternal love. For one arranges thereupon a marriage. Crimson, for master Wang, at last prepares an opium pipe in the quiet blissfulness of being together.