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By Hannah Strickland

GENRE: Romance, Historical, Film-noir, Crime, Drama

Louie never meant to be a hitman, but when his sister, Mae, is sold as a concubine, only his skills can save her from a life of slavery in this true story of 1920s Chinatown.


Drugs, prostitution and murder headlined many accounts of San Francisco Chinatown in the late 1800s, but after the great fire, the city began to change. The efforts of DONALDINA CAMERON at the Presbyterian Mission and JACK MANION of the Chinatown squad combined with the changing attitudes of the Chinese changed the character of Chinatown from a transient community with little affection for their host country, to one embracing both America and China. In the midst of this transition, LOUIE SAM follows the old ways, a Hatchetman, keeping order outside the law and on the terms of the ruling Tongs.

As a young man, Louie dreamed of life as an intellectual dandy, but when his father is brutally murdered, he brazenly attacks the Triad leader who was responsible. The assult does not go well and, in a bid to save his life from the Triad leader, TAI LUNG, Louie’s UNCLE brings him to America where he is thrust into life as a hitman for a prominent Tong in San Francisco.

Three year later, the secretary of Louie’s Tong, JUE YAT, imports Louie’s naïve young sister, MAE, to be his concubine. Though Louie has no problem with AMY, an opium dealing brothel owner, he is horrified to discover his sister’s predicament and vows to rescue her by any means.

Having previously antagonized Donaldina, he will not directly approach the rescue mission, so he sends a letter through a shop owner, CHENG-GONG, imploring her to send a rescue party. Unfortunately, the rescue party is discovered and Jue Yat sends Mae into hiding at Amy’s brothel.

While the police and Louie search for Mae, they are not the only ones interested in her fate. LUM MING, a prominent member of another Tong and opium dealer, also desires Mae. But there are distractions. Lum Ming finds it hard to import his goods with the noir detective Manion providing heat and Amy isn’t talking to Louie. Moreover Louie keeps occupied with errands for the Tong’s expanding business with a mysterious third party. Meanwhile, Jue Yat’s too precocious daughter, MINNIE, takes up with the Tong president, CHIN CHUK NOM.

Eventually opium provides a catalyst and Lum Ming comes out the winner. He spies Mae at Amy’s establishment while negotiating terms on a drug delivery and manages to persuade Mae to escape with him that night. His ploy is successful, but Louie spies their departure and chases them into the night. Though Louie does not catch them, the combination of Jue Yat’s rage and the honor of the Tong is enough for a bounty to be placed on the head of Lum Ming. Louie volunteers for the task.

Having little trust in the success of the police, Louie decides to rescue Mae himself. The problem is, Lum Ming knows about the bounty and security is tight. Eventually, Louie kidnaps a cousin of Lum Ming and, with the help of Cheng-Gong, disguises himself as that cousin. The ruse only lasts long enough for his entry and Louie must fight his way past Lum Ming and a gaggle of guards to Mae. He manages to kill Lum Ming and he and Mae escape onto the rooftops.

Louie safely deposits Mae at the rescue mission. But his betrayal has come at a price. Jue Yat places a huge bounty on Louie and, before he can reach safety, Louie is shot.

Jue Yat is not, however let off. Jue Yat’s wife stabs Minnie when she discovers an undesired pregnancy and then kills herself. Chin Chuk Nom, finding the heat too strong, allows the mysterious third party control of the Tong. It is Tai Lung, the Triad leader who had tried to kill Louie long ago. He promises to clean up loose ends by providing a hit on Jue Yat and providing Chin Chuk Nom an escape to Chicago.

But there is also hope. Mae finds healing with Donaldina despite her horror at discovering Donaldina has also rescued Amy in the midst of the chaos. Cheng-Gong represents the new way and his hope for Chinatown begins to see fulfillment when he meets with Mae in the end.


Screenplay available upon request.

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