Hong Kong emigrant Wayne Wang directed and co-wrote (with Paul Theroux, Jean-Claude Carriere and Larry Gross) this story set in "the Pearl of the Orient" as the British government prepared to hand over the city to China in 1997. John (Jeremy Irons) is an English journalist who has lived in the city for some time; while in some ways he still feels like an outsider, he's come to think of Hong Kong as a home and has close friends there. John is also in love with Vivian (Gong Li), a one-time prostitute who now runs a bar owned by her fiancé, Chang (Michael Hui). John is struggling with the realization that he can never have Vivian as his own, when he learns that he has leukemia; the British are to give the reigns of power back to the Chinese in six months, but John's doctors tell him he isn't likely to live long enough to see it happen. He quits his job and begins wandering the streets, recording his observations of the city on videotape when he meets Jean (Maggie Cheung), a young woman who makes her way selling whatever she can scavenge, and who hides a secret behind the scarves that obscure her face.