1952 Saigon, a beautiful, exotic, and mysterious city caught in the grip of the Vietnamese war of liberation from the French colonial powers. New arrival Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), an idealistic American aid worker befriends London Times correspondent Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine). When Fowler introduces Pyle to his beautiful young Vietnamese mistress Phuong (Hai Yen) the three become swept up in a tempestuous love triangle that leads to a series of startling revelations and finally - murder.