Big-talking rough-and-tumble truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) wins a bet with his restaurant owner friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun). To make sure he follows through on payment, Jack accompanies him to the airport to pick up Wang’s Chinese fiancée Miao Yin (Suzee Pai).
A Chinese street gang, the Lords of Death, tries to kidnap another Chinese girl at the airport, who is being met by her friend Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), intending to sell her as a sex slave. After Jack intervenes, they take Miao Yin by mistake.
Jack and Wang track the Lords of Death to the back alleys of Chinatown, where they find a funeral procession that quickly erupts into a tong war between the Chang Sing and Wing Kong, two ancient Chinese societies. When “The Three Storms” – Thunder, Rain, and Lightning, mighty warriors with weather-themed powers – appear, slaughtering the Chang Sing, Jack attempts to gun his big-rig through the crowd, but runs over David Lo Pan (James Hong), a decrepit man directing the Three Storms. Horrified, Jack exits his truck, but finds Lo Pan unfazed and glowing with magic. Wang hurriedly guides Jack through the alleys; the two escape the carnage and mayhem, but Jack’s truck is stolen.