After the break-up of his marriage, a racing driver sets out to get back his daughter - at any cost.
A car crashes on a lonely road in the early morning. The tow-truck driver who is called out to salvage the wreck is Al Shaw (BRUNO LAWRENCE). Once an international Grand Prix racing star, Al returned home to take over his father's business, a car-wrecking yard called Smash Palace, located in a remote part of New Zealand.
Al's French-born wife Jacqui (ANNA JEMISON) helps him run the business. But she has become increasingly alienated from her husband, who is obsessed with cars, and increasingly unhappy with her life, which is lived amidst acres of rusting junk collected over the last 50 years by Al's father. But Smash Palace is Al's home; he grew up here and acquired the passion for cars that led to his Grand Prix racing.
Jacqui is also worried about what the future holds for their daughter, nine-year-old Georgie (GREER ROBSON), whose interests are centered around her father's cars. Jacqui begins to turn more and more to Al's best friend Ray Foley (KEITH ABERDEIN), the local cop, for advice and support. One day Al finds the two of them together. He has a violent fight with his wife and then brutally makes love to her against her will.
For Jacqui, this is the end of her life with her husband. She leaves him, taking their daughter with her, and begins a new, happier life as a teacher. Meanwhile, her relationship with Ray continues to develop.
But Al is unable to let things stay this way. He cannot adjust to the separation, and he harasses Jacqui in his constant efforts to see his daughter. Things get worse when Al plans a racing comeback and Jacqui forbids him to take Georgie to the reace. Al resorts to violence, and he is arrested and taken to jail after destroying part of Jacqui's house. When he is allowed out on bail he takes Georgie on a hunting trip without Jacqui's knowledge. Panicking at Georgie's disappearance, Jacqui takes legal action to stop Al from seeing his daughter ever again.
Further enraged by this step and frustrated by his helplessness to restore things to the way they were before, Al plans to kidnap his child. He prepares a hideout deep in the bush, and then he goes to Jacqui's house and takes the little girl with him. The police search for the pair, but all they find is Al's tow-truck, wrecked in a river at the bottom of a cliff. The searchers are afraid that father and daughter have been killed.
Al and Georgie, however, are getting reacquainted and recovering their former closeness in the bush hideout. Al knows that he has gotten himself into a hopeless situation, but he can't think of anything else to do.
Suddenly Georgie becomes ill. When she grows delirious Al is forced to drive her into town to seek medical aid, but he is spotted by a patrolling police car. In order to escape he takes a shopgirl hostage, again at gunpoint. Father, daughter and hostage hole up in a shed in the middle of Smash Palace, surrounded by armed police.
Ray brings Jacqui to the scene. Already driven to distraction by the disappearance of her daughter, Jacqui defies orders and runs out in front of the policemen so she can see her husband. He hands Georgie over to her, and he is persuaded to exchange the hostage shopgirl for Ray. As the two former best friends come face to face, Al puts a noose around Ray's neck and attaches it to his shotgun.
Then Al forces Ray to drive one of his cars to a nearby railway crossing. The police are pwerless to stop them. An Express train races toward the car...and the lives of Al and Ray and the future happiness of Jacqui and Georgie depend on what Al decides to do next...