In 1930 marked by growing anti-colonial unrest, Éliane Devries (Catherine Deneuve), a single woman born to French parents in colonial Indochina, runs her and her widowed father's (Henri Marteau) large rubber plantation with many indentured laborers, whom she casually refers to as her coolies, and divides her days between her homes at the plantation and outside Saigon. After her best friends from the Nguyễn Dynasty die in a plane crash, she adopts their five-year-old daughter Camille (Ba Hoang, as child). Guy Asselin (Jean Yanne), the head of the French security services in Indochina, courts Éliane, but she rejects him and raises Camille alone giving her the education of a privileged European through her teens.
In the misty mornings of Saigon, young girls wake up to pick lotuses from a flower pond, to later sell to American tourists and fellow Vietnamese alike. To pass the time, the girls sing rich folk songs that touch the heart of a poet (Teacher Dao) who lives in an old temple overlooking the pond. Teacher Dao (Manh Cuong Tran) suffered leprosy at the age of 26 and had consequently lost his fingers.
The film is set in Saigon, where Khôi arrives from Nha Trang after being disowned by his family on account of his homosexuality. Đông befriends him and invites him to share an apartment along with Lam, who is—unbeknownst to Khôi—actually Đông's lover. At the apartment, Đông and Lam rob him of his money and belongings; Đông in turn abandons Lam and flees with the cash. Lam later happens upon an injured Khôi sleeping rough. In pity he returns the latter's clothes and identity papers and after a tentative reconciliation the two become friends and ultimately lovers. Lam returns to his life as a prostitute while Khôi attempts to work as a bookseller. A returning, manipulative Đông dogs the couple which culminates in Lam wounding his antagonist with a stab to the foot. Khôi eventually leaves Lam because of the latter's work as a prostitute. An increasingly desperate Lam takes to robbing his clients at knife-point; a gang of men in the employ of one such victim kills Lam at the film's climax.
In the heart of Saigon, Thai and Linh are getting married. But the wedding is suddenly cut short when four other brides show up – threatening to take the groom's life. It turns out that Thai is the biggest player in the city, and has been dating all five women at the same time up until the day of his wedding. Trang is an overly jealous flight attendant, Mai Chau is a doctor who loves to party, Quyen is a sexually aggressive chef while Huynh Phuong is one fiery actress.
Huyen is a college student. Her boyfriend, Tung, works for the city and enjoys illegal cockfighting. They live together in the capital, far away from their families. Tung always wants to make love with Huyen, which results in Huyen's discovery of pregnancy. The couple, which never has enough money to make ends meet, decides to abort.
Only the kiss of prince of Death (Johnny) can draw hearts and farewell victims of his fate down to Hell. Ironically, he was still too inexperience and naive. He was mistaken as an underaged.His mom manage to buy him time for 3 days to find a victim and complete the kiss.
The setting is 1990s, in Vietnam. Lien is a traditional, pure, and simple Vietnamese girl who has a dream of a happy, peaceful life. The opening described a series of traumatic events that happened to Lien when she was a young child. Her mother died, her father married the second times to a horrible, wicked woman. The evil stepmother, who is always unconscionably buffeted her step-daughter, tried to sell Lien to a pander. In a hopeless effort to get out of the lost and mourned reality, Lien met up with the Master. Under his tutelage, Lien retrieved hope and regained the pipe dream she'd thought that will never has any chance of being fulfilled. At the end, Lien finally enlightened the answer: "Patience is a bridge to overcome suffering.
Vu vit avec des amis à Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville dans une maison au bord du fleuve. Son père qui vit à la campagne vient lui rendre visite, il aimerait que Vu épouse une des colocataires. Mais Vu est amoureux de Thang, un autre colocataire.