Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky (1991)

DVD Cover (Tokyo Shock Reissue)
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Overall Rating 74%
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Ranked #2,441
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Hard man Ricky is incarcerated in a futuristic prison where ultra-violence is his only means of survival in the corrupt, sadistic system. He must battle his way quite literally 'through' the feared 'gang of four', and undergo multiple tortures before facing the governor in one of the goriest climaxes ever seen. --IMDb
Siu-Wong Fan
Siu-Wong Fan
Mei Sheng Fan
Mei Sheng Fan
Ka-Kui Ho
Ka-Kui Ho
Yukari ‘shima
Yukari ‘shima
Kan-Wing Tsang
Kan-Wing Tsang
Review by Ginose
Added: October 02, 2007
Marital-arts films: Never get old, never change. Cult films: There's always a reason that they have so many fans, and almost always worth a look. B-Movies: Well... they're normally good for a laugh. If it's violent, foreign and full of fighting then you'd better believe that I'll check it out.

Now, all that in consideration, let's introduce tonight's film: "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky". Holy shit, has a more masculine film been made? I picked this up, more or less, because of its praise as one of the goriest films ever made and wow. This has to be one of the most entertaining movies ever dubbed into the English language (which you can listen to for bonus laughs) and will stand forever as one of my all-time favorite movies.

The year is 2001. Prisons, like most things, have become commercialized businesses and are run as such. No regulations on how they can be run instated by the government gives the rich corporations the right to run them as they see fit. In this mess, we have prisons run by corrupt (and insane) individuals who make it unlivable to some prisoners and a 5-star hotel to others. Our film takes place in one of these prisons where Riki-Oh Saiga (Siu-Wong Fan) is sentenced for his manslaughter charges. Upon being checked in, it is revealed that he has five bullets still embedded in his chest from the incident. Casually we are revealed the lives of the prisoners. Most are bullied and assaulted by the higher-ups in the prison ranks, and, as it turns out, Riki doesn't much care for this. When one of the older inmates is attacked in the shower (a large portion of his skin peeled off with a wood-carver), Riki makes an effort to injure and embarrass the assailant. This is where his troubles begin. When he makes his stance against a captain (a prisoner who operates under the cell-block leader) he slowly goes deeper and deeper into a morbid underworld of contrived and insane martial-arts. Good thing our hero has super strength, huh?

This movie is amazing. I mean, honestly, I can't think of an action film off the top of my head that's more deserving of its cult status. For a martial arts film, this lacks nothing: Overly loud screams during fights, insane fighting techniques, super-powers, extremely hypertensive-looking villains and a giant monster. I mean, wow.

The performances take nothing from the film, as they are (pretty much) exactly what you'd expect from a Chinese b-movie based on a Japanese comic. But who the hell watches a martial-arts movie for the acting? You go for the blood, the fights, the villains and the hilarious English dubbing! That's more or less, why the sometimes weak performances took nothing from this film; I'm not even going to bother factoring them in.

The story is the selling point here, because if the promise of one of the goriest films you're ever liable to see doesn't draw you, nor the promise of hilarious buds, then the fact that this b-movie (b-martial-arts-movie) has a good and comprehensible story should, at least, attract you somewhat.

By good I don't mean Pulitzer prize winning shit, I mean a story that's interesting enough to keep even the slow parts of this movie fun and exciting. You find me another martial-arts movie that manages to do that*. Well? DO IT! Yeah, that's what I thought.

Anyway, the thing that most people will watch for is the gore, and for good reason: This film pulls no punches... and each of these punches penetrates several inches of human flesh. Seriously, there are maybe three movies I've seen that are gorier than this one. I mean, removed intestine, faces peeled, people exploding, meat-grinders; anything that can happen, probably will.

Although most watch for the gore, I came for the gore and stayed for the bad guys. I mean, come on, the Gang of 4 were awesome. Huge muscle guy, little guy with particular weapon, effeminate kung-fu guy, and duty-bound bad-ass; all of which Riki fights and defeats, and each of the fights are epically fun and gory.

Whereas this movie is really only visually stimulating, the large chunks of plot and truly uplifting message make it a movie that's very hard to forget. I don't see many people walking away from this one hating everything about it... I mean, I'm sure there are a few, but, who cares what they think. You're not reading a review by them, are you? This is just one of those guy movies that you and your buddies can sit down and enjoy in any way you want to. No technical merits to be had here, but, as I've said, who cares? B-movie is as b-movie does.

As a cinematic piece of work that would be reviewed and critiqued by big-time Hollywood types, I'll give it a 3.5/10. (Being generous)

As far as it being just an enjoyable, entertaining movie, I'll give it a 9.8/10.

It's no work of art, but I, personally, didn't want a work of art. If you do want it to be a gem of the cinema, prepare to be disappointed.

I don't know about you, but I go to a movie to be entertained.
crAckerr #1: crAckerr - added 10/02/2007, 09:04 AM
Glad this finally got a review, amazing movie. One of my favourites. Great film to watch while gettin drunk with your buddies.
Christopher #2: Christopher - added 10/02/2007, 09:54 AM
Greatest foreign film of all time, easily.
Chad #3: Chad - added 04/30/2008, 05:21 AM
Freaking loved it.
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 03/09/2009, 09:37 PM
Why in the hell aren't more movies like this? 100% entertainment from start to finish. Couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a little time in front of the tube.

Greg Follender #5: Greg Follender - added 03/10/2009, 02:09 AM
I saw this movie many years ago on a pirated videotape stolen from Kim's video that actually was recorded over an old 70's porno movie... it just doesn't get any better than this piece of Hong Kong cinema gold;)

I still have that old cassette... it brings me comfort in trying times.

Glad to hear that you folks feel the same as i do about it... it remains a proud part of my asian DVD collection!
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