A wandering ronin, Sakon Shiba, has stumbled upon a disturbing scene. A group of peasants have kidnapped a young, well-dressed woman, tying her up to a post in a mill. However, things aren’t quite as they seem. They have no intention of harming her as long as her father listens to their words. The woman’s father is a corrupt magistrate by the name of Matsushita, and he has made life a living nightmare for the people living under his rule. Sympathetic to the peasants’ plight and in need of a place to stay, Shiba decides to aid their cause.
One night in 1966 in Sparta, Mississippi, police officer Sam Wood discovers a dead body. Being a small town, the crime rate in Sparta is unsurprisingly low. Even so, Officer Wood recognizes that the man’s death was no accident. He brings the case to the attention of his superior, Chief Gillespie, who leads the investigation. Shortly thereafter, Officer Wood stumbles upon an African American man waiting at the train station. Suspecting him of the crime, he arrests him, though his feeling of elation quickly turns to embarrassment when he eventually learns Tibbs is one of Philadelphia’s greatest homicide detectives. Tibbs’s chief then recommends the seasoned detective help assist the murder case in Sparta. Although neither Tibbs nor Gillespie are enchanted with the idea, they agree.
It is the late 1890s in Wyoming. Butch Cassidy is the charismatic leader of the Wild Bunch, a group of criminals who have pulled off many successful bank and train robberies. His closest companion is the Sundance Kid, a laconic, yet skilled marksman. Returning to their hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall, they learn Butch has been replaced by Harvey Logan as their new leader. Butch quickly reasserts his authority when he defeats his would-be replacement through trickery. They proceed to make plans to rob the Union Pacific Overland Flyer train. By striking the train on both its eastward and westward runs, they will maximize their potential rewards.
Guido Anselmi is a respected film director who has found himself in quite the predicament. He is in the middle of making a science-fiction feature that many of his actors and actresses seem to believe is a thinly-veiled autobiographical allegory. The production of Guido’s film is going smoothly – or at least it would be were it not for him coming down with a particularly nasty case of director’s block. It especially doesn’t help when he bounces ideas off of an influential critic only for him to shoot every single one of them down, calling them intellectually bankrupt, untenable, and convoluted. With his married life and production falling apart around him, Guido often reminiscences about his childhood and indulges in personal fantasies.
Yakuza hitman Muraki has just been released from prison. When visiting an illegal gambling parlor, he finds himself attracted to a strange young woman named Saeko. She regularly loses money gambling, and asks Muraki to find games with larger stakes. In his first days of freedom, Muraki finds himself entering a mutually destructive relationship that could threaten to destroy them both.
Goro Hanada is the third-ranked hitman of the Japanese underworld. He has flown into Tokyo with his wife, Mami. There, they meet Kasuga, a formerly ranked hitman who now makes his living as a taxi driver. Kasuga asks Hanada to assist him to break back into the profession. Hanada agrees, and the three of them go to a club owned by yakuza boss Michihiko Yabuhara. The two men are tasked with escorting a client from Sagami Beach to Nagano. Little do they know that they’re about to drive into an ambush.