MacGyver is after a thief who has stolen Pentagon missile codes. He follows the thief to a junkyard where he meets with his buyers. MacGyver knocks over some tires to draw them off and then uses a crane magnet to pick up the briefcase, drop it nearby, and then run with it. The three men chase after him and manage to capture him. They dump MacGyver inside of the thief's car and dispose of it, and him, by putting it into a compactor. MacGyver manages to kick through the rear seat and jimmy open the trunk, escaping just before the car is destroyed. Borrowing a forklift, MacGyver snags the buyers' car, hoists it into the air, and jams it against a pole, then calls the authorities.
MacGyver goes to an isolated beach to get a tan and some R&R. However, General Hawkins finds him anyway and recruits him for a mission to the jungles of Burma to recover a canister of toxin aboard an Air Force plane that crashed.
Landing in the jungle, MacGyver spots bandits working for a local opium lord rounding up villagers as slave labor. When an old man, Prasert, collapses, the head slaver Truang prepares to beat him and Prasert's granddaughter Lin tries to protect him. Truang tells Anek, the cowed village leader, to make sure his people obey. When Prasert collapses again, Truang starts to beat him, but Prasert's great grandson Chan runs off, distracting him. MacGyver, watching, notices the boy is wearing an Air Force cap. He grabs Chan and hides him from the slaves, then convinces him to explain what's gong on. Chan tells him that Truang works for the local drug lord General Narai, and that he got the plane from a downed plane nearby. He leads MacGyver to the plane, but they discover the canister is missing. When MacGyver come out of the plane, Truang and his men capture him.
The slavers take MacGyver to the local village and believe he's a narcotic agent. Their boss, Narai, arrives in his personal helicopter and inspects the villagers. He also believes that MacGyver is a narcotics agent. MacGyver notices that Narai has stored the weapons from the downed plane, including the toxin canister, under a trap in the center of the village. Narai plans to attach the plane's machine gun to his helicopter and convert it into a flying weapons platform. Narai tries to get answers from MacGyver, who refuses to answer. He tells Truang that his caravan of opium will be arriving in five days, and the villagers must be ready. Truang says the villagers are lazy, and Narai tells Anek that he and his people can't disappoint him. Anek promises they'll fulfill their duties. Narai then stakes out MacGyver on the trail leading to the nearby poppy fields so the villagers can see the price of disobedience every day when they go to and from work.
As MacGyver roasts in the hot sun, Chan and Lin bring him water. However, they don't dare risk freeing him for fear that Narai will exact vengeance on the entire village. They hide in the jungle as a guard returns to watch MacGyver. In the village, Truang commands the villagers to work faster. The only one who shows even the least sign of disobedience is Ming, Lin's brother. Meanwhile, Chan steals MacGyver's Swiss Army knife from the guardhouse and gives it to MacGyver. MacGyver frees himself, then knocks out the guard and straps him to a tree. When Truang sends a replacement guard, the guard assumes his predecessor is sleeping. MacGyver fakes being tied up long enough to lure the replacement guard in, and then knocks him out as well.
MacGyver sneaks into the village and frees the pigs from their pen as a distraction. As the villagers try to round them up and the slavers laugh, MacGyver gets to the weapon cache and then uses an inflatable raft as a makeshift timed trigger to activate a mini-flare buried in with the weapons. MacGyver gets clear and the slavers look on in astonishment as the raft inflates beneath the tarp, and then the weapons explode. MacGyver steals a Jeep and then sets it on fire with another mini-flare. Truang flees into the jungle to warn Narai, and MacGyver tells the villagers they're free. They accuse him of destroying them all since Narai will return and destroy the village for their disobedience.
Lin asks MacGyver for help learning how to use the slavers' gun, but he warns it will take too long to become proficient. Anek speaks for the villagers, telling MacGyver to leave so they can try and make amends. Ming thanks MacGyver for what he's done and asks him to stay, but MacGyver explains he has to fulfill his promise and get the canister to the rendezvous spot. As he leaves, Anek tries to convince his people that they can appeal to Narai's better nature.
Chan runs to the rendezvous spot to ask MacGyver to stay. He discovers that the American has turned over the canister and stayed behind to help the villagers. MacGyver returns to the village and offers his help, and Ming rallies his people to fight back against Truang and the others when they arrive.
With only a few hours, MacGyver shows the villagers how to set up a variety of booby traps. Ming takes on the role of leader, and Prasert thanks MacGyver for providing his grandson with the opportunity. Truang and his men return in Jeeps and MacGyver goes to warn them they have a fight on their hand. Truang doesn't believe him and opens fire. MacGyver ducks for cover and Truang continues on, hitting the first trap. He spots what appears to be a covered pit in the middle of the road and drives around… directly into the pit the villagers did dig. MacGyver drives by in one of the slavers' jeeps and taunts them into following. Truang suspects it's a trap and sticks to the main road. They come to a tree blocking the road. However, when they move it they discover it's wired to rifles tied to trees, and all aimed at the tires. The slavers are forced to continue on foot, and Ming and the villager swing down a log to knock them out.
As Truang calls Narai for backup, MacGyver returns to the village. The slavers march into the village and MacGyver turns on a jeep. The exhaust pipe is hooked up to a buried bamboo pipe filled with ash and peppers, and the resulting jet blinds the slavers. The villagers dispose of them, with Ming taking care of Truang personally. As the villagers lock up the slavers, Narai arrives in his newly-converted gunship. He opens fire, driving everyone to cover. When he hovers over the village, MacGyver grabs a winch cable from a jeep and hooks it to the helicopter's landing gear. He pulls the helicopter down to the ground, and then attacks Narai when the general emerges with a gun. The two men struggle and Narai draws a hidden blade from his swagger stick. He advances on MacGyver but trips on the helicopter skid and falls on his own blade. Ming announces to his people that they are finally free, thanks to MacGyver.