In Taipei, Taiwan, a television executive is helping the emcee of a television show about child prodigies prepare for a segment featuring a young chess prodigy. While he does this, he remembers a visit to the mainland at the time of the Cultural Revolution to visit a cousin. While traveling by train, he encountered another chess player who was on his way to a prison camp. As he wonders what happened to him, the film cuts back and forth between the two different stories. One is about the cutthroat competition the prodigy must face in 1980s Taipei, the other is about tournament competition in Chinese labor camps in the 1960s. This film looks like two films cobbled together, because that's exactly what it is. After the director of the prison-camp chess match film walked off the job, the film sat on the shelf until the producer could think up a way to finish it. His solution was to shoot a parallel, contemporary story and intercut between the two.
by Clarke Fountain synopsis