Tsui Hark produces and Ringo Lam directs this bleak kung-fu action thriller. Qing dynasty era martial arts heroes Fong Sai Yuk (Willie Chi Tian-sheng) and Hung Hei-kwun (Yang Sheng) are students at the Shaolin temple when the government decides that the celebrated monastery is a threat to imperial power.
Ordered to disband, the disciples of the temple are rounded by imperial troops led by the evil General Crimson (John Ching Tung) and sent to the dreaded Red Lotus Temple, a cavernous underground complex filled with booby traps and other nastiness.
The place is run by the pathologically debauched Elder Kung (Wong Kam-kong), who not only has a taste for painting with human blood but also for having his way with his large collection of embalmed women.
Along the way, Fong Sai Yuk falls for former prostitute and fellow inmate Tou Tou (Carmen Lee Yeuk-tung) while Hung Hei-kwun considers renouncing his Shaolin vows and allying himself with the villainous Kung.