San Francisco, 1878. Ah Sahm, a newly arrived Chineseimmigrant with serious fighting skills, is introduced toChinatown's most ruthless tong, the Hop Wei, by Chao, afixer. After impressing Young Jun, son of tong leader FatherJun, Ah Sahm is branded and taken to a brothel, where hebefriends Ah Toy, a courtesan with connections.Later, insearch of a woman who left China two years earlier, Ah Sahmcrosses paths with Mai Ling and Li Yong, followers of therival tong leader Long Zii, who is trying to avoid an opiumwar with the Hop We - a war that Walter Buckley, deputy to SanFrancisco Mayor Samuel Blake, actively promotes. Meanwhile,after two Chinese laborers are killed by white thugs, policesergeant "Big Bill" O'Hara is tasked with creating a Chinatownsquad. Enlisting southern-born cop Richard Henry Lee, Billsoon finds that the hostility between the Chinese and whitedock workers, whose unofficial leader is Irish tough DylanLeary, is unlikely to end anytime soon.