powered by AFI
On the Hong Kong waterfront, as a tailor sews his torn pants, American Jeff Williams anxiously awaits his departure from the island and recalls the events of the previous week: In a rural Chinese province, Jeff, a beleagured war surplus peddler and ex-serviceman, is caught in a Communist air attack and flees to a nearby river. There, he discovers a boat containing a slain Chinese man, a little boy and the boy's pet cricket. After guiding the boat to safety, Jeff, who speaks no Chinese, reluctantly takes the boy, Wei Lin, with him, carrying him to a farmhouse that has been turned into a refugee camp by American schoolteacher Victoria Evans. Jeff is about to leave Wei Lin in Victoria's care when she reveals that she has arranged for a plane to fly the group to Hong Kong that night. Eager to be out of China, Jeff arranges to go along, but later, as the Communists launch an attack in the area, he learns that Victoria paid for the plane in advance and criticizes her for throwing her money away. To the cynical Jeff's surprise, the plane shows up and rescues the group. During the trip to Hong Kong, Jeff and Victoria discover that the sleeping Wei Lin is carrying a gold, jewel-encrusted figurine, an apparent family heirloom. Later, as it nears Hong Kong, the plane loses one of its engines, and the pilots request that all belongings be ejected. Victoria sadly tosses her one possession--her mother's phonograph--and after the other passengers sacrifice their personal treasures, the plane lands safely at a Hong Kong airport. There, Jeff and Victoria carry Wei Lin through British customs, without declaring the idol. Jeff then insists on taking Wei Lin with him to a hotel and is joined by Victoria. To get a suite at the crowded Royal Hotel, Jeff pretends that he and Victoria are the Lightons, a married couple who, Jeff knows, have advance reservations. Soon after checking in, Jeff tells Victoria, who has placed the figurine in the hotel safe, that he is going out to trace Wei Lin's relatives. Jeff ends up at a shop on seedy Green Dragon Lane, where he describes the figurine to Tao Liang, a jewelry fence. As hoped, Liang identifies the object as a valuable, Tibetan relic. When Tao Liang admits that he would pay $100,000 for the object, Jeff hints that he has it. Jeff then makes reservations to sail that evening and returns to the hotel. There, Jeff lies to an unsuspecting Victoria that he found Wei Lin's uncle and made arrangements for him to meet the boy at the hotel in a few hours. Jeff takes Victoria and Wei Lin to a street carnival and slips away long enough to leave a phone message at the hotel, instructing Victoria to go to the Red Cross for a meeting about the refugees. Back at the hotel, Victoria receives the message and, believing that Wei Lin will be departing shortly with his uncle, entrusts the figurine to Jeff before heading off to the Red Cross. As soon as she leaves, Jeff phones Liang and arranges to sell him the idol at the pier. At the busy waterfront, Jeff abandons the tenacious Wei Lin in a restaurant, but as he is rushing off to the pier, he is accosted by some beggar children and rips his pants. Back in the present, a guilt-ridden Jeff ponders his choices, then races back to the restaurant to reclaim Wei Lin. Victoria, meanwhile, returns to the hotel and realizes what Jeff has done just as he and Wei Lin walk through the door. When Liang telephones, Jeff tells him the deal is off and admits all to Victoria. Moved by Jeff's change, Victoria kisses him, and the two spend the night on the balcony talking about their lives. The next morning, Jeff insists on taking Victoria out to buy a phonograph, and while they are gone, Liang and his henchman ransack Jeff's room, stab Mr. Lighton, who along with his wife has just checked in, and kidnap Wei Lin. Police Inspector Danton interrogates Jeff and Victoria when they show up at the hotel and reluctantly gives them two hours to exchange the idol for Wei Lin. Victoria and Jeff go to the address stipulated by Liang and are ambushed. Although Liang grabs the idol from Victoria and flees, Jeff and Victoria discover where he lives and wait for him there. When Liang appears, Jeff pulls a gun, reclaims the figurine and forces Liang to take them to Wei Lin. At the waterfront, Liang directs Jeff and Victoria to a fishing boat, and the couple is reunited with Wei Lin. When the excited boy accidentally causes Jeff to lose his gun, Liang jumps Jeff, and a fight ensues. During the melee, the boat catches fire, but Jeff, Victoria and Wei Lin finally are rescued by a Navy boat. Later, a now married Jeff and Victoria leave Wei Lin in a prosperous, English-run orphanage, promising to return soon to visit.