Jackie Chan stars in this straight-ahead kung fu saga directed Chen Chi-hua. The film opens with eight Shaolin masters developing a new, powerful martial-arts technique and writing the form down into a tome called "The Eight Steps of the Snake and Crane." Soon thereafter, the eight masters and the book vanish. Years later, young street punk Hsu Ying Fung (Chan) winds up with the book and has mastered the entire form. Hungry for its secrets, members from a sundry of clans try to seize the book. As it turns out, this is all a plan by the original eight's sole survivor and Hsu's master to suss out who killed his colleagues.