Brothers Ka-wai (David Lam) and Ka-wah (Andy Lau) are fleeing their homes from mainland China, trying to enter Hong Kong for a better future in life. But when their refugee boat gets discovered by the Hong Kong marine police, and a group of armed mobsters on the refugee boat initiates a shoot-out that results in almost everyone dying, Ka-wah had to escape by jumping off the boat and swimming towards Hong Kong harbour while Ka-wai gets arrested and deported to work in a chain gang. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, believing himself to be the only survivor of the refugee massacre, Ka-wah ends up joining the local triads under Boss Tong-fai (Michael Chan), a reasonable leader and well-respected member of the triad underworld. But as Ka-wah rises in his position in the triads, and ready to start a family with his girlfriend, he's unaware that Ka-wai, his brother which was presumed dead, have actually joined a group of mainland China-based mobsters who's now in Hong Kong and working under the orders of ruthless rival triad leader, Ma Kok-hoi.
Soon enough, both brothers will reunite, in the most unfortunate of circumstances...
This film contains examples of:
- A Birthday, Not a Break: Ka-wahs daughter was kidnapped and accidentally choked to death on her birthday celebration.
- Accidental Murder: While fleeing from the police after an attempted kidnapping goes horribly wrong, Ka-wai tries fleeing while grabbing onto the child he abducted by holding to her neck, unintentionally choking the child dead. And worse of all, that child turns out to be the daughter of Ka-wah, his long-lost, estranged brother
- The Atoner: Ka-wai, after unintentionally killing his own niece. First thing he do to make up is by saving Ka-wahs pregnant wife, then quickly reinforcing Ka-wah in the midst of a fierce fight against Kok-hois thugs providing him a much-needed Heroic Second Wind.
- Battle in the Rain: Between Ka-wah and Ka-wai, shortly after Ka-wai had stabbed Tong-fai to death. In the thick of the battle, Ka-wai realize the man hes antagonizing the whole time, turns out to be his own long-lost younger brother
- Benevolent Boss: Boss Tong-fai, who treats his minions and underlings like family. During Ka-wah's wedding he is even treated as a father figure!
- Cain and Abel: Ka-wai and Ka-wah, respectively.
- Death of a Child: Ka-wahs young daughter gets unintentionally choked to death by her uncle.
- Destination Defenestration: Ka-wah and Ka-wai does this in their fight scenes. During the final revenge fight Ka-wah throws at least two mooks into thick glass windows which shatters.
- Dramatic Thunder: Used in the scene after the Time Skip, where Ka-wah finds Boss Tong-fai for the first time in years and discovers his once-glorious leader is now a homeless vagrant.
- The Don: Boss Tong-fai, leader of the downtown Hong Kong triads, who is a Reasonable Authority Figure who eagerly takes Ka-wah under his tutelage as a protégé and allows him to gradually rise as an enforcer. Until the rival mob leader, Ma Kok-hoi, decides to take over.
- Frameup: Boss Tong-fai is eventually resort to falling from grace after Kok-hoi arrange for him to be framed for trafficking drugs, a serious offense even among the triads, and Tong-fai decides to let himself to be the Fall Guy so that his underlings can escape trial.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: In the final battle, Ka-wah kills Kok-hois dragon by shoving a broken beer bottle into his guts.
- Hate Sink: Ma Kok-hoi, the rival triad leader, whose defining features is being the most ruthless and lousy piece of filth in the entire movie. Eager to maintain control of the triad operations in Hong Kong, Kok-hoi is willing to frame the benevolent Boss Tong-fai for trafficking drugs and target Ka-wah, the most trusted associate of Boss Tong -fai whom Tong-fai considers a foster son, to the extent of ordering Ka-wai, the estranged brother of Ka-wah, who is oblivious of the whole situation, to kidnap Ka-wah's child. Even with Boss Tong-fai reduced to a homeless vagrant and Ka-wah losing his daughter, Kok-hoi continues demanding for them dead, to the extent of kidnapping Ka-wah's wife which is pregnant with her second child. When Ka-wai knows the truth and demands to leave the triad, Kok-hoi had Ka-wai captured and subject to Cold-Blooded Torture by stabbing his knees, and purposely taunts Ka-wah's pregnant wife by groping at her like an old pervert.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Boss Tong-fai, after being framed for drug trafficking and deliberately taking the fall for the crime so that his underling can escape arrest, is revealed after a Time Skip to be reduced from a once-powerful triad boss to a lowly janitor and window cleaner. And to make things worse, he ends up dying from being stabbed by Ka-wai under Kok-hois orders shortly after speaking to Ka-wah. As the saying goes, "The Fallen Tiger is Bullied by the Dogs"...
- The Illegal: The Cheung brothers, Ka-wah and Ka-wai, are illegal immigrants trying to sneak into Hong Kong from China, only to be stopped near the coast by Marine police.
- Killing in Self-Defense: In the opening scene, Ka-wah is forced to pick up a dead gangsters pistol and kill a Marine policeman in self-defense.
- Left Stuck After Attack: In the middle of the final battle, Ka-wah accidentally missed a swing with his handsaw, and got it stuck to the side of a pillar. He then ditches the weapon and fights off surviving thugs with Good Old Fisticuffs, until later on when Ka-wah manage to retrieve his saw to sever the jugular of a mook that is smashing his head against a pillar.
- Machete Mayhem: In the final scene, while Ka-wah primarily uses a handsaw, Kok-hois mooks on the other hand mostly uses machetes. And also Ka-wai, who retrieves a machete to use on mooks, and personally killing Kok-hoi using said machete to redeem himself.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Ka-wai have this reaction when the random child he grabbed as a hostage and accidentally choked to death in his haste to escape turns out to be Ka-wahs daughter. As in, his niece.
- Redemption Equals Death: Ka-wai ends up dying, after his HeelFace Turn. But at least its a Dying Moment of Awesome.
- Revenge Before Reason: Ka-wai, after realizing how Kok-hoi had been using him against his own brother and that he has been manipulated ever since he joined the triads, ends up attacking Kok-hoi in a rage to kill him, despite the presence of several armed policemen in the area about to arrest everyone else, in a Taking You with Me Self-Destructive Charge moment. See how that turns out two lines below.
- Serrated Blade of Pain: In the final battle in Kok-hois banquet, Ka-wahs preferred weapon is a handsaw.
- Stocking Mask: Ka-wai and a few henchmen are shown to be wearing this during their attempted robbery of an armored truck.
- Suicide by Cop: Ka-wais fate, deliberately stabbing Kok-wah to death in the presence of several policemen and getting himself gunned down.
- Working on the Chain Gang: Ka-wai in the beginning of the film, after being recaptured by the police and forcefully deported back to mainland China, ends up working labour in a mine quarry with officers ordering him around at bayonet-point.