In 1931, the Japanese invade three provinces in China. Amidst the fighting, a young man, Ma Zhongyuan, together with his sister, Xiuxiu, and father, travel to the north-east. Life for them there is difficult. Zhongyuan is summoned by the Japanese to undergo training in espionage work. Under their training, he gradually becomes cold and ruthless. In 1936, he helps out a photo studio owned by Cai An in Xingzhou in a bid to cover up his work as a Japanese spy. One day, he goes to Kuantan to monitor the movements of the English troops there. In the forest he bumps into Kang Jing and Xiaofen, who are hunting for wild boar then. Zhongyuan becomes good friends with Kang Jing. Kang Jing comes from a poor family. His father died may years ago and he is brought up by his mother. As he has won a scholarship from a clan association, he is setting off for Xingzhou to further his studies. Before his departure, his mother urges him to seek the help of his uncle, Pang Fu, when he reaches Xingzhou. While travelling to Xingzhou, Kang Jing meets Zhongyuan again. Soon after alighting from the train, he is pickpocketed. But Zhongyuan trails the pickpocket and retrieves the wallet from him as he had earlier on put a secret map inside. He returns that wallet to Kang Jing afar claiming the map. Kang Jing seeks Zhongyuan's help when he finds out that his uncle has already closed down his rice shop. When the pair later go for supper, they see two English soldiers insulting a hawker. The impulsive Kang Jing thinks of teaching the soldiers a lesson but is stopped by Zhongyuan.
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