Australian journalist Guy Hamilton travels to Indonesia to cover civil strife in 1965. There—on the eve of an attempted coup—he befriends a Chinese Australian photographer with a deep connection to and vast knowledge of the Indonesian people, and also falls in love with a British national.
Nathaniel Williamsen is taken to an island mission with his fiancee Sophie. Their ship, the Rona, is captained by the roguish Bully Hayes, who also takes a liking to Sophie. When Sophie is kidnapped by slave trader Ben Pease "Nate" teams with Hayes in order to find her.