War feasts upon death. Its greedy appetite carried away many lives on the battlefield, and soldiers must prepare to die at any time. Yet all these sacrifices can have its meanings and reasons with honor. A weathered witness of war's insatiable appetite, Guzidi, Captain of the Ninth Company, will struggle his entire life to return honor to his forty six men and their self-sacrifice.
The year 1948 witnessed the Huaihai Campaign during the Chinese Civil War. In one of Chinese history's deadliest battles, thousands from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Nationalist Army (KMT) fell.
It was amid this bloody fight that Captain Guzidi led the Ninth Company infantry unit on a sniper mission. His orders were to fight the KMT army until the retreat assembly call was sounded. Yet, after many long hours of painstaking resistance, Gu watched powerlessly as ammunition was running out and the scant ranks of the Ninth Company grew sparser still. The men were falling one by one.
On the brink of death, Lieutenant Jiao Dapeng, Gu's best partner, announced that he heard the call and asked Gu to retreat with the remaining soldiers. The dying man's words spread doubt within the remainder of the company, but Gu insisted that the bugle had not sounded and that they were to continue fighting at all costs.
Not until later did Gu realize that all the neighboring troops had already left the field, and that his entire company might have died in vain because of his stubborn obedience. Blinded by anger and guilt, Gu marched straight into the enemy's trench. His life was spared, but he had no choice but to shoulder the weight of guilt and mystery that became the burden for the remainder of his life.
A few days later, Gu woke up in a KMT hospital. While among the KMT ranks, he had been wounded and captured by the PLA. He had lost his identity, and quickly learnt that without a survivor to vouch for them, the forty six men who had bravely sacrificed their lives under him would simply gone as missing. Gu joined the infantry of the Liberation Army and painstakingly climbed up the lower rungs of the military ladder. Determined to prove the glorious death of his forty-six men, Gu embarked on a journey in search of those who hold the key to the mystery of the bugle call.
Guzidi was not alone in his quest. Sun Guiqin, the wife of Guzidis's fellow solider Wang Jincun, believed in the death of her husband only upon hearing it from Guzidi. The two of them set out together on their quest of honor.
Finally, after fighting through a myriad of perils Guzidi returned to the old coal mine where the deadly battle took place. He was still alone in believing what happened here. After silently staring at the huge mine where his men shed their blood, Guzidi began digging hungrily knowing that the bodies of his 46 honorable men still laid underneath.