Duke Vicentio has ruled Vienna benevolently, but his leniency has led to debauchery and licentiousness taking a grip on the city. To stem the tide, the Duke hands the reins of power over to Lord Angelo and takes his leave of the city.
Lord Angelo – part human, part robot – rules over the city with an iron rod, invoking long since forgotten laws to destroy the brothels and sentence people to death for committing sexual acts outside of wedlock.
One such victim of these reinstated laws is Claudio, sentenced to death for getting his girlfriend, Juliet, pregnant. Claudio hopes his sister, the novice Isabella, will plead on his behalf to Lord Angelo.
Angelo refuses to hear Isabella’s pleas, but one glimmer of hope remains as Angelo struggles with hitherto unknown emotions. He falls in love with the beautiful and virtuous Isabella and offers her a way to save her brother.
So ensues a tale of betrayal, lies, lust and love, as Isabella fights to save her brother, and the Duke returns to save the day.