Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

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Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
Storyofricky.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLam Nai-choi
Written byLam Nai-choi
Tetsuya Saruwatari
Based onRiki-Oh
by Masahiko Takajo and Tetsuya Saruwatari
Produced byChan Dung Chow
StarringFan Siu-wong
Fan Mei-sheng
Ho Ka-kui
Yukari Oshima
Frankie Chen
Edited byPeter Cheung
Keung Chuen-tak
Production
company
Diagonal Pictures
Distributed byGolden Harvest
Release dates
  • 5 October 1991 (1991-10-05)
(Japan)
  • 9 April 1992 (1992-04-09)
(Hong Kong)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryHong Kong
LanguageCantonese
Box officeHK$2,147,778

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (Chinese: 力王), also known as Story of Ricky, is a 1991 Hong Kong martial arts splatter film written and directed by Lam Nai-Choi. The film is loosely based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masahiko Takajo and Tetsuya Saruwatari, who also co-wrote. The film stars Fan Siu-wong, Fan Mei-sheng (Siu-wong's real-life father), Ho Ka-kui, Gloria Yip, and Yukari Oshima.

Fan Siu-wong plays Ricky Ho Lik Wong (Lik Wong is the character's given name, but the subtitles use the anglicized "Ricky") who is a young man who has super-human power and fighting abilities. Yukari Oshima stars as Huang Chung (Rogan in the English dub). The English title given on screen is simply Story of Ricky but later releases were sold under the title Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. It had a limited theatrical release in the United States in 1993. It is well known for its acting, story, extremely brutal and highly unrealistic violence, as well as its high camp factor and extremely poor English dubbing (although versions in Cantonese and Mandarin are also available). The film is considered a cult film.[1]

Plot[edit]

By the year 2001, all correctional facilities have been privatized. Lik Wong/Ricky Ho, a martial artist, and former music student, is sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter after killing a crime lord indirectly responsible for the death of his girlfriend Keiko/Anne after a group of thugs chased her off the building to her death after witnessing their heroin deal. It is revealed in a flashback Ricky's name as a child was Rick, but his uncle, after seeing how strong he was, decided the name Ricky was more suitable. It is also revealed that Ricky has multiple bullets inside him that he received from his attack on the crime lord, which he refused to remove because he considers them souvenirs.

An elderly inmate, Ma/Omar, is attacked by the captain of the cells Wildcat/Samuel. Ricky trips Samuel, who falls face first on a well placed piece of wood with nails. After this, one of the inmates suggests that Mad Dragon/Zorro, a dangerous, morbidly obese inmate should kill him. Omar is informed by the guards that his probation was turned down after Samuel lied, telling the guards that Omar was spreading dirty rumors. Stricken by grief, Omar hangs himself. Zorro attacks Ricky in the shower room, but is easily killed and gutted by Ricky's bare hands. Ricky thwarts Samuel's attack, squeezing his hands until all his fingers broke before punching a hole in his stomach, killing him as well.

Shortly after, a member of the Four Heavenly Kings ("Gang of Four" in the English dub) named Hai/Oscar the leader of the North Cell, suggests that Ricky see the one-eyed Assistant Warden Dan. The warden shoots Ricky with a gun only for Ricky to slap the bullet away and retaliate by punching the air so hard the Warden starts bleeding. After Ricky's confrontation, Dan suggests Oscar kill him. Outside the prison yard, Oscar and Ricky engage in a fight. After losing an eye due to a backhand slap from Ricky, Oscar cuts a hole in his stomach and uses his intestines to strangle Ricky. Ricky breaks free, delivering a skull crushing blow which kills Oscar. Ricky soon discovers that the Gang of Four is growing illegal opium for profit. Huang Chung/Rogan, leader of the West Cell, discovers Ricky set the poppy garden on fire, leading to a fight. Brandon, leader of the South Cell, throws needles to tie Ricky up with them, leaving him defenseless. Meanwhile, the guards report to Dan that the Warden is returning from his vacation, prompting Dan to raise the Zero Alarm, causing the defense system to shoot anyone outside their cell. As the fight continues, Tarzan, leader of the East Cell, arrives announcing his intent to fight Ricky but leaves along with the Gang as the Zero Alarm goes off.

The next day, the Warden and his spoiled son return from their vacation. Dan informs the Warden about the incidents, including the poppy garden. This infuriates the Warden, almost transforming him into a Hulk-like creature, though he prevents it by taking medication. As the Warden tortures and questions Ricky, Tarzan bursts through the wall to fight Ricky, which ends in Ricky dismembering half of Tarzan's left arm and breaking his mandible. The Warden activates a ceiling trap on Ricky who struggles to stay alive. Tarzan regains consciousness and holds the ceiling, only to unintentionally save Ricky by being crushed himself. After escaping, Ricky finds a photo showing Tarzan had a family waiting for him. The Warden orders the inmates bury Ricky alive, which they reluctantly obey. The Warden proposes if Ricky survives underground for a week, he will free him. Ricky does survive by eating dog meat, however, the Warden denies him freedom. Later that night, Ricky is brought food by an inmate Freddy. Another inmate informs Dan, the prison snitch, who mortally wounds Freddy. Dan then opens Ricky's cell to taunt him. However, Ricky breaks free and kills the snitch by punching the top half of his head off and then knocks out Dan's remaining eye. The inmates then rebel and violently ambush Dan, chopping off his arm. A prison riot team arrives only for Ricky to easily punch holes in their bodies.

In the kitchen, Ricky, the prisoners, and Dan burst through the wall. The Warden shoots Dan with a homemade gas-pressured bullet, causing him to inflate and violently explode. Rogan and Brandon confront Ricky, who gravely injures Rogan by tying his limbs together. Brandon, realizing Ricky is far too powerful for him, flees from the scene, but not before the Warden shoots and kills him. The Warden, revealing that he too, is a martial artist who also went to the same school as Ricky, loses control and finally transforms into a grotesque Hulk-like creature and battles Ricky. The fight ends with Ricky crippling and throwing the mutated Warden into a meat grinder, turning him into ground beef. The prisoners rebel once again and start to attack the guards until Ricky reaches the prison wall, throwing the warden's mutated head at the frightened guards, and breaking the wall. Ricky declares to all the prisoners, "You're all free now," allowing the prisoners and himself to go free.

Cast[edit]

  • Fan Siu-Wong as Lik Wong / Ricky Ho
  • Fan Mei-sheng as Assistant Warden Dan
  • Ho Ka-Kui as Warden
  • Yukari Oshima as Huang Chung / Rogan
  • Tamba Tetsuro as Master Zhang
  • Gloria Yip as Keiko / Anne, Ricky Ho's Girlfriend
  • Kwok Chun-Fung as Lin Hung / Andrew
  • Frankie Chin as Hai / Oscar
  • Koichi Sugisaki as Taizan / Tarzan
  • Wong Kwai-Hung as Baishen / Brandon
  • Chang Gan-Wing as Ma / Omar
  • Lam Kai-Wing as Wildcat / Samuel
  • Chan Ging as Yeh Ming / Edward Lee
  • Lau Shung-fung as Prisoner
  • Wong Kwok-leung as Warden's Son
  • Chan Kwok-Bong as Alan, Hai / Oscar's godson
  • Lam Suet as narcotic boss
  • Bill Lung Biu as prisoner
  • Kong Long as Prison Guard
  • Ling Chi-Hung as Prisoner
  • Cheung Yiu-Sing as Prisoner
  • Choi Kwok-Ping as Prisoner
  • Cheung Yuk-San as Prison Guard
  • Chiu Chi-Shing as Prisoner
  • Yuen Wah as Prisoner

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

Fan Siu-Wong was an up coming martial artist slowing gaining attention in Mainland China and Hong Kong when he was approached by Golden Harvest after finishing filming "Stone Age Warrior." He claims he was picked up at the airport by Golden Harvest and immediately offered the main role in "Story of Ricky." Fan Siu-Wong signed up for the role before researching his parts, eventually finding out it was being adapted from an ultra violent Japanese anime, in which he was then shocked by the sheer violence and brutality of the anime. He initially was very nervous that nobody will like the film because of the blood and disgusting violence. Fan Siu-Wong eventually said the role of Ricky is still one of his most memorable and people in rural areas in China will often come up to him and talk to him about the movie and say stuff like "You were in "Story of Ricky" right?" He then says the violence is the ultimately the main reason why people still remembers the movie and why it is a cult hit among fans.

Style[edit]

The plot closely follows the events depicted in the original Japanese manga and its anime adaptation, with some minor modifications in certain instances.

The film is notorious for its excessive use of graphic violence and gore, primarily due to the fact that the lead character is practically invincible, has impossibly great strength and can virtually withstand all pain, which is partially explained by Ricky being a practitioner of a superhuman form of qigong. This leads to attempts by other characters to subdue him which end up being extremely gory and over-the-top.

Aside from the aforementioned head crushing and meat grinding scenes, most notable is a fight scene between Ricky and a knife-wielding prisoner named Oscar. During the fight, Oscar throws powdered glass in Ricky's eyes and then slashes Ricky's right arm. Ricky seemingly finished, smashes a water pipe and cleans his eyes, then uses his teeth and left hand to tie the veins and tendons in his arm back together. Oscar then charges at Ricky, but Ricky dodges and smacks him in the back of the head, popping one of his eyes out, leaving it to be eaten by crows. Seeing himself at a disadvantage, Oscar attempts suicide by seppuku. However, when Ricky approaches Oscar to try and stop the suicide, Oscar grabs his own intestines and wraps them around Ricky's neck in an attempt to strangle him, prompting the assistant warden to exclaim in the English dub: "You've got a lot of guts, Oscar!". Ricky then punches Oscar in the face, with an X-ray image showing the front of his skull shattering. The deceased Oscar crumples to the ground without so much as a visibly broken nose.

In another fight scene, Ricky punches and graphically breaks the Gang of Four member, Tarzan's arm, then lands an uppercut with such force that Tarzan's jaw is torn off. Finally, Ricky goes for the Coup de grâce and punches several of Tarzan's fingers off as he attempts to punch Ricky.

Another scene includes the warden's graphic death which depicts Ricky throwing him into an industrial meat grinder. Ricky pushes the struggling warden through the grinder, until his whole body is shredded and only his head remains. In that scene, so much fake blood was used that Fan Siu-wong could not wash the blood off his skin for three days.

The film's low budget shows in the scene where Ricky's girlfriend Keiko jumps to her death. For this scene, an obvious mannequin wearing her clothes is thrown off the top of the building, landing with a dull thud and a slight bounce. A dummy is also used in some scenes where there is a close up.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Riki-Oh received a Category III rating (viewers under 18 not allowed). It was one of the first Hong Kong movies to receive such a rating for non-erotic content. This rating greatly inhibited the film's ability to make money at the box office. The film grossed $2,147,778 HKD in Hong Kong.

Critical response[edit]

On the aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, Riki-Oh has an approval rating of 89% by 9 reviews, and with an average rating of 7.1/10.[2] Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice called it "a rather astonishing, starkly stylized blood flood set inside a privatized prison."[3] Kurt Ramschissel of Film Threat gave the film 5 stars, saying that "the violence comes fast and furious and is just as outrageous and over-the-top as Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson ever were."[4] J.R. Jones from the Chicago Reader said, "If you can handle the torrent of grisly violence, you'll find yourself royally entertained by this Hong Kong actioner."[5]

Home media[edit]

In the U.S., Tokyo Shock was released it on a bare bones DVD in 2000. In 2002, DVD was released by Hong Kong Legends in Region 2.[6] In 2003, Fortune Star (formerly Mega Star), current holders of the Golden Harvest library from Media Asia, released a Remastered version of the film on a 3 disc set along with The Dragon from Russia and City Hunter.

The film was released on Blu-ray by Media Blasters in 2011.[7] Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky became available in its original Chinese with hard-coded English subtitles on Netflix's Instant Streaming service in mid-2012. The film aired on Turner Classic Movies on 2 November 2012 and 14 April 2013 as part of TCM Underground. In the UK, the film was first released on Blu-ray from a new HD restoration by Mediumrare Entertainment in 2015[8] before going out of print. In 2021, British distributors 88 Films released their own Blu-ray edition of the film with new remastered English subtitles and both Cantonese and English audio tracks.[9]

Legacy[edit]

One scene, showing a character crushing another character's skull with his bare hands, later became a regular fixture on The Daily Show during Craig Kilborn's time as the host.

It was alleged that a sequel titled Dint King Inside King (a.k.a. Story of Ricky 2 or Super Powerful Man) was released in Hong Kong in 2005, though the plot does not follow the events that supposedly occur after Ricky breaks out of prison, and is set in the distant future as opposed to 2001 for the first film. The film was never released in the United States or in Europe but is available on DVD (without English subtitles) through Panorama Entertainment. Oddly, and possibly due to rights issues, the film is built as a stand-alone project despite casting Fan Siu-wong in the title role, sporting the camouflage poncho seen in flashbacks and in the manga. Even the characters have different names (Ricky's name is He Shen in this film).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky". 18 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky". Rotten Tomatoes.
  3. ^ Atkinson, Michael (5 November 2002). "New York Movies Taboo Ya!". The Village Voice.
  4. ^ "Story of Ricky (Lai Wong)". Film Threat. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012.
  5. ^ Jones, J.R. (12 March 2008). "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  6. ^ Desbarats, Xavier. "Riki-Oh". DeVilDead.
  7. ^ "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky". Blu-ray.com. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  8. ^ Restored Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky Heading to Blu-ray, retrieved 23 July 2021
  9. ^ 88 Films: Riki-Oh The Story of Ricky and Robotrix Detailed for Blu-ray, retrieved 23 July 2021

External links[edit]