Follow the plot here, which has three main thrusts. Caine meets a priest named Father Cardonez (Victor Millan), who has stolen a chalice from the altar of his mission, San Blas. Fr. Cardonez is robbed of it by four desperadoes, and with his dying breath asks Caine to rescue the chalice and return it to the mission, his way of “making restitution.”
Also on the trail of the four thugs is Captain Luther Staggis (William Smith, veteran of TV, biker movies, and such 70s classics as Any Which Way You Can), a hard man and a mercenary, but not without heart or ideals. Seems the four have stolen a Gatling gun belonging to Staggis and he wants it back to fight alongside a political figure in Mexico.
Caine, meanwhile, has an object of his own that he’s carrying and having trouble letting go, a small stone he has taken from the grave of his beloved Master Po. To Caine, the pebble symbolizes Po as he was when he is alive. Carrying it reminds Caine of his sin, his involvement in Po’s death, and somehow comforts Caine, as if Po is in the pebble.
Chalice, machine gun, pebble. God, strength, absolution. Each man, the priest, the mercenary and the Shaolin are trying to acquire something so that it will meet an inner need. Each man is trying, through the acquisition of this thing, to make restitution for something wrong he has done. Only one of them ultimately learns that attaining the object doesn’t fulfill the emotional and spiritual needs being sought; you can guess which one.
Cool plot, right? In the middle are the four killers, with whom Caine must deal while also collaborating with the murderous Staggis, whose heart is polluted by his passion. “You ever kill a man?” he asks Caine. “Once you do, you’re hooked for life.”
Here’s where it gets derailed. A vague, lame plot twist pits Caine against Staggis in hand to hand combat. Maybe Staggis loses site of his mission and what it is he’s supposed to acquire? Maybe he cannot coexist with Caine, a man who has taken life but not been spiritually corrupted by the act? This twist is the only thing keeping this from being a four yin-yang episode, it’s quite distracting. Honestly, I gotta give it three out of four.
Which is too bad, there’s a lot of other cool things happening in this episode, including some flashbacks to how Caine escaped from China (through the help of a Christian missionary priest!) and, I gotta tell you, a sa-weet! stunt in which Caine leaps from a second story ledge onto a ladder and rides it to the earth, where he rolls into an attack. Wow. IMDB is here. Be sure to check out the "trivia" surrounding the colorful career of William Smith and, hey, just for grins, here's the classic fight between Smith and Clint Eastwood.