Cosmo Vitelli, the owner of a sleazy Los Angeles strip joint, loses $20,000 at a mob gambling club owned by a small-time gangster. Since Cosmo doesn't have the cash, he is forced to murder a Chinese bookie in order to clear his debt to the mob. What Cosmo doesn't know is that he's part of a set-up. The bookie is actually a West Coast mob boss protected around the clock by bodyguards. The mobsters figure that Cosmo will be killed and then they can take over his nightclub. But Cosmo proves luckier than expected.