1920s，China. In a quiet courtyard, a young girl is forced into a bridal palanquin. She is going to be the second concubine of the master of the house. Before getting into the palanquin, she remembers her childhood lover – a young actor from a Peking Opera group (Xi Ban).
In the joyful atmosphere of the wedding, the wife and the first concubine of the master welcome the second concubine into the family with complex emotional undertones. During the wedding night, despite her desperate resistance, the bride is finally overcome by her tragic destiny.
The master passes time with his wife and concubines by watching Peking Opera and playing mah-jong. The second concubine sneaks out for a while to meet her former lover, the young actor. But their secret is discovered by the first concubine who has ulterior motives.
The two lovers continue their love affairs in secret. The first concubine tells the master about their affair. The master catches the two lovers who bravely confess without hesitation. The first concubine tries to use this occasion to renew her favor in the eyes of the master. However, she received a heavy slap on the face instead. Driven by depression, she grabs the lighting stick, which symbolizes the master’s power over his household and lights all the red lanterns hanging in her yard. In great fury, the master orders his minions to execute the first concubine who dares to break his house law.
The two lovers and the first concubine are taken to the execution ground. Facing death, they forget their hostilities, and reconcile with each other. In tolerance and affection, they embrace together. Feudalism strangles their young life and beautiful love.