The series is set in Shanghai in the 1920s in early Republican China. Hui Man-Keung is a graduate from Yenching University who served three years in prison for participating in the May Fourth Movement student protests. He decides to make a fresh start in Shanghai. He meets the fruit vendor Ting Lik, who lets him stay at his shack for one night. After Hui acquires the executive position in a small-time gang, he invites Ting to be his partner. Hui acquires a good relationship with Fung King-yiu, a wealthy tycoon and gang boss, after saving Fung's daughter Ching-ching from being held hostage. Fung wants Hui to work for him but Hui refuses. Ching-ching falls in love with Hui. When Ting Lik kills a rival after a personal dispute over a woman, other gangs attack Hui and Ting, causing them to lose everything they created. They join Fung King-yiu's company for protection. When Hui discovers that Fung is collaborating with secret agents from the Japan-based Black Dragon Society to destroy the patriotic Ching-mou School, he is indecisive whether to follow his morals or to be disloyal to Fung. When Hui kills the Japanese spy Kaoriko Yamaguchi, Fung is furious with Hui's betrayal and he sends men across Shanghai to hunt down and kill Hui. However, Ting secretly helps Hui escape on account of their friendship.
Hui settles in Hong Kong. While Fung's men are still hunting for him, Hui fakes his death. Hui marries So Wong-tai and starts a new life with her family, opening a small restaurant. While in Shanghai, Ching-ching is unable to get over Hui's death and when she visits Hong Kong where there were rumours of Hui. When she sees Hui, she does not believe him when he tells her he is already married. When Hui takes her to his house, Fung's assassins secretly followed them and kill Hui's entire family but Hui survives because he was not at home. Hui swears vengeance on Fung and returns to Shanghai to take his revenge.