Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
|Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky|
Original Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Lam Nai-choi|
|Produced by||Chan Dung Chow|
|Written by||Lam Nai-choi
Fan Mei Sheng
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
|Box office||$2,147,778 HKD|
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (also known as Story of Ricky; Chinese: 力王) is a 1991 Hong Kong martial arts-thriller film written and directed by Lam Nai-choi, and based on the Japanese manga Riki-Oh by Masahiko Takajo and Saruwatari Tetsuya, which in term was based on true events. 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, capable of dismembering limps, body parts, and the ability to knock out eyeballs from their sockets with punches, slaps, and kicks. 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, extreme 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). 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 (aka, Story of Ricky 2 or Super Powerful Man) was released in Hong Kong in 2005, however, 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).
The plot closely follows the true events depicted in the original Japanese comic and its anime adaptation, with some minor modifications in certain instances.
By the year 2001, all correctional facilities have been privatized. Lik Wong/Ricky Ho (Fan Siu-wong), a martial artist and former music student, is sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter after killing a crime lord who was indirectly responsible for the death of his girlfriend Keiko/Anne (Gloria Yip) , by punching a hole through his head. Flashback scenes reveal that a group of thugs had rescued her after having witnessed Anne getting attacked by a different thug while doing their heroin deal. Anne was so scared in captivity that she ran upstairs and fell off the roof to her death. It is also revealed in a flashback that Ricky's name as a child was Rick, but his uncle, after seeing how strong he was, decided to call him Ricky instead.
One morning in the prison bathroom, an elderly inmate named Ma/Omar is viciously beaten by the captain of the cells, Wildcat/Samuel. As Samuel leaves, Ricky trips him, and Samuel falls directly on a piece of wood with nails on it, accurately set up by Ricky, hand and face first. As Samuel devises a plan to get back at Ricky, one of the inmates suggest that they should have Zorro, a dangerous, morbidly obese inmate (who claims to haven eaten a zebra by himself), to kill him. Omar is later informed by the guards that they turned down his probation after Samuel tells the guards that Omar was spreading rumors although this was untrue. Stricken by grief, Omar hangs himself.
The next day, Zorro attacks Ricky, but is quickly and horribly killed by getting gutted by Ricky's bare hands. Ricky crushes Samuel's hand like peanuts and punches a giant hole into Samuel's stomach, killing Samuel instantly. Shortly after, a member of the fearsome Four Heavenly Kings (Gang of Four in the English dub (named after the actual gang of four which was led by Mao Zedong's wife)) named Hai/Oscar, the leader of the North Cell, suggests that Ricky should see the sadistic one-eyed Assistant Warden Dan. After Ricky confronts Dan, he suggests Oscar to kill Ricky. Outside the prison yard, Oscar and Ricky engage in a fight. During the fight Ricky slaps Oscar on the back of the head, forcing his eyeball to pop out of its socket. Oscar cuts a hole in his stomach and uses his intestines to strangle Ricky. Ricky manages to throw Oscar in the air and deliver a crushing blow into Oscar's face, breaking his face and killing Oscar.
Later on, Ricky soon discovers that the Gang of Four is growing illegal opium for profit. Huang Chung/Rogan, leader of the West Cell, discovers that Ricky had set the poppy garden on fire and they both fight. As the fight goes on, Brandon, leader of the South Cell, throws his needles and ties Ricky up with them, leaving him defenseless. Meanwhile, the guards report to Dan that the Warden is returning from his vacation in Hawaii, prompting Dan to raise the Zero Alarm, causing the defense system to shoot at anybody who is not in their cell. While the fight continues, Tarzan, leader of the East Cell, interferes, claiming that he wants to fight Ricky. As the Zero Alarm goes off, Ricky and the Gang of Four part ways for now.
The next day, the Warden and his spoiled, overweight , and retarded son return from their vacation. Dan informs the Warden about the incidents during his absence, including the poppy garden which infuriates the Warden, almost forcing him to transform to a Hulk like creature. He prevents himself from hulking out by taking some medication pills. Dan escorts the Warden to Ricky's cell. As the Warden questions him, Tarzan bursts through the wall and fights Ricky once again, which ends with Ricky brutally mutilating Tarzan, dismembering half of his left arm with a punch and breaking his jaw with an uppercut. The Warden then activates a ceiling trap to crush Ricky. As Ricky struggles to stay alive, Tarzan regains consciousness and holds the ceiling, claiming that he is still alive. Tarzan unintentionally saves Ricky from being crushed by the ceiling, at the cost of Tarzan's life. After escaping the trap Ricky finds a photo showing that Tarzan had a family waiting for him in the outside world.
Later, the Warden orders the inmates to bury Ricky alive, which they reluctantly obey. The Warden claims if Ricky survives by staying underground for a week, he will consider freeing him from prison. As the week quickly passes by, Ricky survives by eating dog meat, but the Warden does not free him. Later that night, Ricky is chained in his cell. A fellow inmate, named Freddy, brings him food so Ricky can regain his power. However, another inmate sees this and informs Dan about it and in response, Dan mortally wounds Freddy. Dan, dragging Freddy's body with his hook, then opens Ricky's cell to show the body to him. However, Dan and the other inmate find that Ricky has broken free from the chains, and Ricky kills the inmate by punching the top half of his head off and knocking out Dan's remaining eye with a well timed punch. As the guards rush to the scene, Ricky manages to punch through one of the guard metal shield and bullet proof vest, killing him. The inmates rebel and violently ambush Dan.
In the kitchen, Ricky, the prisoners, and Dan burst through the wall and the Warden shoots Dan with a homemade gas-pressured bullet, causing him to inflate and violently explode. Rogan and Brandon then confront Ricky one last time, which ends with Ricky gravely injuring Rogan, dismembering one of her legs while violently breaking her other leg, and tying both of her arms into a knot. Brandon, realizing Ricky is far too powerful for him, flees from the scene, but not before the Warden shoots and kills Brandon with another gas-pressured bullet. The Warden, revealing that he too, is a martial artist, transforms into the Incredible Hulk and battles Ricky. The fight quickly ends with Ricky crippling and throwing the mutated Warden into a meat grinder, turning him into hamburger meat used in Mcdonald's hamburger. In the finale, the prisoners rebel once again and start to attack the guards. Ricky tells them to stop and shows the dismembered head of their master. Ricky then breaks the prison wall, allowing all the violent, murderous, and out of control prisoners to go free. Ricky walks out of the prison.
- 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
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 superhuman strength and can virtually withstand all pain, which is partially explained by Ricky being a practitioner of a mystical kung-fu style known as 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.
Box office and reception
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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.
Riki-Oh has received positive reviews overseas. Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice called it "a rather astonishing, starkly stylized blood flood set inside a privatized prison." 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." Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes currently has the film rated at 89% fresh on their Tomatometer.
Home video and online streaming releases
In the U.S, Tokyo Shock released it on a bare bones DVD in 2000. In 2002, Hong Kong Legends released their DVD in Region 2 territories. 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 Disc on 10 January 2012. 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 movie aired on Turner Classic Movies on 2 November 2012 and 14 April 2013 as part of TCM Underground.
- Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky on IMDb
- Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky at AllMovie
- Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky at Rotten Tomatoes
- I-Mockery Film Review of Riki-oh: Story of Ricky
- "Story of Ricky 2: Dint King Inside King" aka Super Powerful Man on IMDb
- "Story of Ricky 2: Dint King Inside King" aka Super Powerful Man at Hong Kong Cinemagic