In the early 1990s, a tractor mechanic from China nicknamed Steelhead enters Japan illegally, in search of his girlfriend Xiu Xiu. Steelhead and his friend, Jie meet in the busy Shinjuku district of Tokyo and take manual labouring jobs to earn money. When Steelhead finds out that Xiu Xiu has married a Japanese Yakuza leader named Eguchi, he decides to remain in Japan. To obtain citizenship, he agrees to work for Eguchi as a killer, but quickly becomes used to the power. Soon he has become embroiled so deeply in the ways of the yakuza that there is no turning back.