The film is set in a dark and decadent area of São Paulo, Brazil, where the exiled Americans Sinatra and his son Paul own a brothel.
Paul is a compulsive gambler addicted to cocaine. Sinatra is married to a former prostitute named Angie, with whom he has a son.
A Russian client is killed by his wife in their establishment, leaving behind a suitcase filled with drugs. On the night that they have scheduled a negotiation to sell the contents of the suitcase to African buyers, their go-between dies while having sex.
In desperation, Sinatra makes a deal with the Nigerian dishwasher of the brothel, Wemba. Wemba is to travel to the harbor of Santos, taking the place of the go-between, and make the sale to the drug dealers.
In return Wemba would receive a large amount of money.
Wemba accepts but while returning to his car in the harbor, he is attacked by two small-time thieves and is knocked unconscious.
His lack of contact with Sinatra and Paul starts a chain-reaction of misunderstandings that lead to a tragic end.