Set in 1927, HILL OF NO RETURN depicts the experiences of gold miners during Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
The film follows two brothers. Ah-Chu and Ah-Wei who have indentured themselves to a landlord in order to pay for their parents’ funeral. They soon escaped, to Gold Toad Mountain, the gold mine of northen Taiwan. They rent a small room from Ah-Jou, a widow who has lost two husbands within six years. To keep her children fed and clothed. Widow Ah-Jou even sells her body. Ah-Chu hates to see this woman humiliate herself in order to survive, and helps her from time to time. They fall in love gradually.
Meanwhile, the gold rush has plunged the town into smuggling and prostitution.
Japan’s attempts to “rehabilitate” the miners and prostitutes are met with resistance, However, the resistance only leads to disastrous consequences for both miners and prostitutes.