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.
The setting is 1922, in French-occupied Vietnam, and anti-French rebellions by peasants have emerged all over the country. In response, the French have activated units of Vietnamese secret agents to track and destroy the rebels. One agent is Le Van Cuong. Although he has a perfect track record, Cuong's conscience is troubled by the sea of Vietnamese blood he has spilled. Following the assassination of a high-ranking French official, Cuong is assigned to seek and kill the notorious leader of the resistance. Cuong encounters Vo Thanh Thuy, a relentless revolutionary fighter and the daughter of the rebel leader. She is captured and imprisoned by Cuong's cruel superior, Sy. Cuong suspects that Sy knew about the attack on the French official before it happened, and could have prevented it. Suspicious, he warns Thuy that her organization has a mole, helps break her out of prison and becomes a fugitive himself. Her fiery patriotism inspires Cuong, and he develops feelings for the young woman as well. Meanwhile, Sy is tracking Cuong and Thuy, knowing the pair will lead him to Thuy's father.
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.
A Hanoï, un homme d'une cinquantaine d'années, Hoa, travaille comme modèle pour les étudiants des Beaux-Arts. Doux et bon, il semble aveugle aux mesquineries du monde et aux personnes qui profitent de sa gentillesse.
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.