An ancient land ruled by a cruel empress (Qu Ying), is a place where men are subservient to women. Despite her ruthlessness, the empress and her chief eunuch, Chiu Ngai (Daniel Wu), lived in fear of a prophecy that says a boy shall rise to become emperor, and restore the reign of men. To prevent this, the empress sends out her warriors to kill any child who fulfils the terms of the prediction. . .
Charcoal Head (Jaycee Chan) and his brother Blockhead (Chen Po-lin) perform in a traveling show run by their foster father, Blackwood (Tony Leung Ka-fai). Their friend Tao (Edison Chen) gives them a stone with a treasure map engraved upon it. The pair set out on an epic journey to find fortune and glory.
They are joined on their odyssey by two fierce warrior women, Blue Bird (Gillian Chung) and 13th Young Master (Charlene Choi), and together have to survive a series of challenges. The youngsters meet Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Donnie Yen), a master swordsman intent on overthrowing the empire. To do so, Crouching Tiger must first fight the Lord of Armor (Jackie Chan) in order to gain access to the mysterious treasure.
Finally, the boy who would be emperor must lead an army against the forces of the empress. . .