MacGyver sneaks over the wall of an auto junkyard to watch two men pick up a briefcase containing stolen Pentagon missile codes. The two men pay off the thief and MacGyver draws their attention by knocking over some tires. He then uses a crane magnet to grab the briefcase, drop it nearby, and then grab it. MacGyver runs through the autos while the three men come after him. He evades two of them but the third one knocks him out. MacGyver wakes up inside of a junked car that is dropped into a compactor. He manages to get out through the rear seat and pry open the trunk just in time, then emerges on the side of the compactor opposite the men. MacGyver then gets into a forklift and picks up the car, then leaves it suspended in mid-air while he calls the authorities.
Later, MacGyver is relaxing on the beach improving his tan when General Hawkins arrives to send him on a mission to Burma. MacGyver is heading into the wild country where only the opium bandits and the enslaved locals dwell. He is supposed to recover or destroy a canister of toxin that crashed by accident, and has 24 hours to get to the rendezvous spot.
MacGyver makes his way through the jungle and sees bandits rounding up local villagers for slave labor. An old man, Prasert, collapses and his granddaughter Lin tries to shield him from Truang. Truang challenges Anek, the village leader, and asks what good the villagers are if they can't work. Prasert falls again and Truang prepares to beat him, but Prasert's great grandson Chan distracts him and then runs off. MacGyver grabs the boy and gets him to safety, then asks him about the red Air Force hat that he's wearing. Chan explains that Truang is in charge of forced labor for the local drug lord, General Narai. He takes MacGyver to the downed plane but the canister is gone. He emerges from the plane only to discover that Truang is waiting for him.
Truang and his men haul MacGyver to the nearby village. They figure he's a narcotics agent but before they can do anything, General Narai arrives by helicopter and lands in the center of the village. Narai inspects the villagers, who are thoroughly cowed, then confronts MacGyver. MacGyver spots the canister of stolen material along with the weapons that Narai removed from the plane. The general plans to attach the machine gun to his helicopter and make himself invincible. When MacGyver refuses to identify whom he works for, Narai is amused. He then informs Truang that his buyers will want the opium in five days. Truang blames the villagers as being lazy and slow, and Narai calls upon Anek to explain. Anek has nothing useful to say, so Narai informs the villagers that they can't disappoint him. Anek assures him they'll bring in the crops and Narai stakes out MacGyver on the trail leading to the poppy fields so they can see MacGyver and understand the price of disobedience.
Strapped to a wooden frame, MacGyver goes without food and water while baking in the sun. Lin and Chan bring him water but explain that they can't help him to escape. Chan insists he would fight but Lin warns that Narai kills anyone who opposes him. When a guard arrives, they take cover in the jungle as the man settles down for a smoke. In the village, Truang instructs the villagers, including Lin's brother Ming, to work faster. Chan shows Lin something he stole at the guardhouse: MacGyver's Swiss Army knife. Chan gives it to MacGyver and slips away. Truang sends a man to relief MacGyver's dozing guard, and the bandit spots MacGyver's knife on the ground. When he bends over to pick it up, MacGyver knocks him out and then recovers his belt from the other guard, who he knocked out and held up by his belt.
In the village, Truang challenges Ming and asks if he's as stupid as he appears. Ming holds his tongue but glares at Truang as he leaves.
MacGyver sneaks into the village and herds the pigs out of their pen. The villagers try to recover them while MacGyver hides under a tarp where the canister and the weapons are stored. He grabs the canister and a mini-flare, then wedges the flare under an airplane tire. He then pumps air into a life jacket and slips away to hide the canister under a building. The jacket inflates, pulling on a string rigged to a rubber lifeboat's air pump, and the boat inflates, raising the tarp and pulling on a string attached to the flare. The flare sets off the weapons, and MacGyver knocks out one guard and steals a jeep. Truang opens fire but MacGyver jumps free of the jeep and then fires another mini-flare at it, setting the jeep on fire. Ming tackles one guard while MacGyver gets in a truck and drives it through the village. Truang shoots at him, forcing the truck into a wall. MacGyver goes after Truang but loses him in the jungle, and realizes he'll notify Narai. MacGyver tells the villagers that they are free, but the villagers accuse him of destroying them all once Narai gets word of what happened.
Lin asks MacGyver to teach them how to use the guns but he refuses, saying it will take too long. Anek tells MacGyver to leave but Ming stands by MacGyver and thanks him for what he did. MacGyver tells them to decide what they're going to do while he fulfills his promise to deliver the canister to the helicopter. He leaves and Anek tells the villagers everything will be okay once they apologize to Narai. MacGyver arrives at the rendezvous spot as Chan runs after him. The helicopter lifts off, but Chan sees that MacGyver has stayed to help. He returns to the villagers and offers his help against Narai and his men. Ming asks MacGyver to teach him how to be a soldier and the other villagers back him except for Anek, who walks away. MacGyver warns they only have a few hours before Narai returns, and starts showing them how to set up a variety of booby traps. As they set the traps, Prasert thanks MacGyver for giving Ming the chance to become a leader. The villagers dig pits, hang up logs, and create a crude smoke screen device out of bamboo, ash, and rice alcohol. One of the villagers signals with a mirror when he spots Narai and his men coming, and the villagers look to Ming for leadership.
MacGyver greets Truang and the men as they drive up, and warns that they're in for a fight if they don't turn around. Truang fires at him and proceeds into the village. Ming draws off one jeep and villagers in the trees drop snakes on the driver: panicked, they drive off the road and the villagers subdue them. MacGyver takes the jeep and drive off. Meanwhile, Truang has spotted what appears to be a covered pit in the middle of the road. He orders his men to drive around... and they fall into the actual pit the villagers dug. MacGyver drives by in the jeep and tries to bait him into pursuing, but Truang orders his men to continue to the villager. They come to a tree blocking the road and move it, only to discover it's attached to the triggers of rifles which fire and blow out the jeep tires. Truang orders his men to continue on foot. Ming takes out more men with a log rigged with ropes, and Truang calls the general for backup.
MacGyver returns to the village and hides along with the others. When Truang and his men walk into the village, they step over the buried bamboo pipe, which is hooked to the jeep's exhaust pipe. The stunned bandits are no match for the villagers. Truang sees Ming and tries to draw his gun, but Ming easily subdues him on his own. The villagers lock up the bandits, but Narai arrives in his helicopter and opens fire. MacGyver runs to the weapon cache and grabs a length of cable. He takes refuge behind a jeep and then hooks the cable to the jeep's wench. When Narai hovers low over the village, MacGyver hooks the cable to the landing skid and then cranks down the helicopter, forcing it to land. Narai draws his gun and emerges, and MacGyver kicks the gun out of his hand. The two fight and Narai draws a sword, but trips on the landing skid and falls on his own weapon. Ming says that now they're free.
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