In the opening sequence, a nationalistic Chinese group called the Black Flag Troop attack an occupying Japanese encampment. With only swords against the modern armaments of the Japanese (this is towards the end of the 19th century), this heroic group is nearly wiped out. Only their leader Brother Wu escapes and as he rides off he exclaims "the past country is no longer our country. We have no home. Where can I live in such an enormous world" and he dramatically leaps over a cliff into the chasm below.
Troubles come when Ti Lung wants to reform the government and the friends have to choose sides. This leads to a final deadly fight. In this film there are some painful scenes - one in particular that is gripping in its pacing and outcome. The action though ferocious is unfortunately often sped up a notch too much so that at times it appears unrealistic and ridiculous – though at other times it is fabulous.