Sid (Jaycee Chan) is an arrogant and spoiled young man who is the son of Kwan (Tony Leung Ka Fai), a notorious Hong Kong gang leader. His father hopes he will succeed him some day but meanwhile Sid gets his kicks by having sex with the girlfriend of Stephen Ma (Kenneth Tsang), a triad boss who plays at being a respectable citizen. When Stephen finds out what has happened he descends into barbarity and demands both of Sid's hands be cut off and delivered to him. Rather than comply with this demand, Kwan sends his son to Taiwan with Ah Chiu (Roy Cheung), a member of his trusted inner circle.
One day Sid follows the sound of drumming into the distant hills and happens upon a Zen community living apart from society and diligently practicing tai chi and the martial arts. He is very taken with their rigorous drumming, the physical prowess of the performers (including women), and their obvious commitment to this creative art. Since he played drums in a rock band in Hong Kong, Sid asks to join the community. Although he is genuinely interested in the drumming, he also has his eyes on pretty Hong Dou (Lee Sinje), the spunky youngest member of the community.
The wise group's leader is Lan Jie (Li Ruo-Yu) who, sensing Sid's egotism, distraction, and impatience, assigns him to go the river, collect forty stones, put them in a bag, and carry them around with him during the day. It is very rewarding to watch the slow transformation that takes place in this rebellious youth as he adapts to discipline, silence, practice, and the rigors of communal living in a rural setting.
In a voice-over segment, Sid describes his delight in the mystical identification of the drummer with the drum; the subtleties of style, rhythm, and stance all proceed from that connection. We are taken with the ways in which the drum reminds us of the beating heart and enables us to experience a true awakening.
Hong Kong writer and director Kenneth Bi has created a credible and engaging portrait of a self-centered young man's spiritual journey into the transformation of his mind, body, and soul. When the time comes for his resolve to be tested, Sid meets the challenges of the moment with firmness.