Retribution opens with the raucous festivities surrounding the annual procession to honor the Bodhisattva Guanyin. Changsheng, the young wife of the local coffin maker Liu Laoshi, is raped while making an offering to Guanyin in the hope of increasing her chances of bearing a son. Changsheng hangs herself following the encounter, and Liu Laoshi exacts bloody vengeance on the rapist's own wife and favorite prostitute. This act of sexual violence and its retribution provide the narrative pivot around which is woven a web of interconnecting stories, whose characters and events provide divergent perspectives on the rape and its aftermath. The result is an unforgettable exploration of the intersections of sexual desire, sadism, folk belief, and the inexorable cycles of karmic retribution.