The young adult life of Hong Yunsheng, nicknamed Little Brother, is seen as somewhat of a failure by those that know him. A Chinese national, he stowed away on a boat to the United States, where he worked as a dishwasher in the restaurant of a family from his hometown back in Fujian province. After two years in the States and after fathering an illegitimate child there named Fusheng, the child's mother Xuhui who is the restaurateur's daughter, he was deported back to China. Since, he has been floundering in life, which has caused a rift between himself and his older brother, who, with his wife, operate a street front diner and can't have children of their own. Little Brother relies on his new girlfriend, a woman he barely knows named Wu Ruifang who is a performer in a touring opera troupe, for emotional support. Despite Little Brother being the local poster boy for not stowing away, his friend named Monkey tried to do the same, but died on the voyage over due to exposure to toxic ..
Fired from his band and hard up for cash, guitarist and vocalist Dewey Finn finagles his way into a job as a fourth-grade substitute teacher at a private school, where he secretly begins teaching his students the finer points of rock 'n' roll.
After an abrupt and violent encounter with a French warship inflicts severe damage upon his ship, a captain of the British Royal Navy begins a chase over two oceans to capture or destroy the enemy, though he must weigh his commitment to duty and ferocious pursuit of glory against the safety of his devoted crew, including the ship's thoughtful surgeon, his best friend.