At first glance, Ho Yuhang'sRain Dogs is a beautifully shot, meandering story about a young man's struggle to become an adult. The film follows 19-year-old Dong (newcomer Kuan Choon Wai) from Kuala Lumpur to his mother's home in a small Malaysian town; from there to the home of his cousins several towns away, and finally back to his mother. Early in his journey, Dong loses his beloved older brother Hong (Cheung Wing-Hong) in a bar brawl and, though he never outwardly grieves for Hong, his death unconsciously becomes the primary driving force in Dong's life.

Already distant, Dong's relationship with his single mother gets worse in the wake of the loss of Hong. Neither of them acknowledges their suffering to the other, and when Dong's mother takes the side of her deadbeat boyfriend when Dong (correctly) accuses the man of stealing Hong's motorcycle, the tension becomes too great, and Dong flees. Finding a place with his cousins in a much smaller town many miles away, Dong struggles to make sense of his life. Paralyzed by waves of overpowering emotions and plagued by confusing desires, he struggles to connect with those around him. Dong awkwardly bonds with his uncle, only to be beaten by him a few days later; he meets a pair of sisters who spark his interest, but he has no idea what he wants from them, and even less idea what to expect from their shaky friendship; his wise, all-knowing aunt cares for him with the same tenderness she grants her grade-school age son -- hers seems the perfect approach to an utterly lost young adult.