Produced on a shoestring $2 million budget, documentary director Nancy Kelly and her husband, editor Kenji Yamamoto created this romantic western based on a true story. Rosalind Chao stars as Lalu Nathoy, a young woman sold into marriage by her impoverished father in late 19th century China. Lalu is transported to the U.S. by a slave trader, Jim (Dennis Dun), on whom she develops a crush. Although conflicted, Jim fulfills his professional obligation to deliver Lalu to Hong King (Michael Paul Chan), a saloon owner in a rough Idaho mining town. Refusing to participate in Hong King's plan to make her into an exotic prostitute, Lalu keeps her dignity about her and wins the adoration of Charlie (Chris Cooper), Hong King's white, alcoholic partner. Despite the prejudice of the locals, Lalu becomes a cleaning woman and a successful laundress. Though she dreams of marriage to Jim or escape to China, she recognizes Charlie's admirable qualities after a violent incident that casts him in a different light.
by Karl Williams synopsis