Based on Mark 'Chopper' Read's autobiography, Chopper is an exploration of the life and complex psyche of a vicious thug who resorts to violence in an instant but can just as easily be filled with remorse. The narrative begins in 1991 with Read in gaol and then shifts back in time to Pentridge Prison in 1978. It was then that Read established his reputation in jail by stabbing Keithy George, a member of the much-feared criminal gang associated with the Victorian Painters and Dockers Union, and also by getting some fellow inmates to cut off his ears (why Read did this is unclear as he provides at two different reasons in his books). 'Chopper' is later stabbed by his best mate, Jimmy Loughnan, who is attempting to fulfil a contract to kill him. When 'Chopper' is eventually freed in 1985, he moves back home to live with his dad but becomes paranoid, not only because of the large quantities of speed he's consuming but also because he's become a police informant. He shoots a drug dealer called 'The Turk' outside a nightclub in St Kilda, but the police refuse to believe him, and later shoots an old drug-dealing associate, only to drive his victim to hospital. He also later threatens his old mate Jimmy Loughnan with a gun, then apologises. Although Read is eventually arrested for the murder of 'The Turk,' he is acquitted but given a five-year sentence for other offences. The narrative then returns to 1991, by which time Read has sold 250,000 copies of his first book, From the Inside, and become a celebrity.