Ely Braxton (Marcus Thomas), the youngest of two brothers and sons of aging former champion bull rider of the 1960's, sustains a serious head injury in a bull riding accident and stays out of competition for over a year. Hank (Kiefer Sutherland), the oldest of the two, has been a successful "Rodeo Fighter" (Rodeo Clown) for a number of years and is ready to get into the contract business of supplying the meanest bulls in the business. After about a year, Ely has the "itch" to ride again and starts on the rodeo circuit alongside Hank. Hank tries to date a pretty young barrel racer, but thinks he should take things slow. He invites Ely along on the date and Celia (Daryl Hannah) later invites Ely into her recreactional vehicle instead of Hank. Hank drives by, gets out of his truck and knocks on the door. Celia and Ely doesn't know it is Hank and she tells him to go away. Hank then peeks into the front window and finds Celia and Ely making out. Hank is crushed and for the first time in years is mad at Ely. The next time Ely rides and Hank "fights", Hank doesn't do his "fighting" job and could have let Ely get hurt if something had gone wrong with the bull's preformance. Hank fights with Ely and tells him to "look in the mirror" if he wants to know what their father (Pete Postlethwaite) is like. Ely eventually realizes how much he is hurting his brother and his backhome girlfriend, Connie (Molly Ringwald) and apologizes to Hank, but keeps on riding the bulls despite his doctor telling him not to. Ely and Hank go to the finals in Las Vegas, Ely being in the top 15 riders and Hank finally realizing his dream of being a contractor. Ely visits his father and finds out just what kind of man left his mother (Melinda Dillon) and his family. Ely draws the meanest bull in the country and it is the one contracted by Hank! What comes next is what no one wants to see.