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The Story of Ricky, more popularly known as Riki-oh, follows newly detained Ricky Ho (Fan Siu Wong) and his arrival to a brutal and privately run prison. Despite looking to stay under the radar and serve his sentence, he quickly loses anonymity when it is revealed that he is a powerful martial artist with a strong sense of justice. Witnessing atrocities and violence occurring with prevalence within the prison walls, Ricky takes it upon himself to defend the weak. Sensing him to be a thorn in their side, the Warden and his team of prison heads, The Gang of Four, beginning planning to take Ricky down for good and restore the status quo.
Adapted from a Japanese manga, Riki-oh has risen to notoriety because of its excessive violence. While the sheer amount of carnage onscreen is at times unbelievable, does the film have anything more to offer besides the explosions of bloodpacks and prosthetic limbs torn from actors?
Director Lam Ngai Kai helms this odd and over-the-top actioner that is filled with head scratching character sequences, weirdly unique characters, and multiple crazy action scenes which explode with gore and viscera to heights rarely see before or since in Hong Kong film. When not in the middle of one the highly memorable action scenes, the plot points are ridiculously simple and full of unintentionally hilarious moments that help exemplify the cult status of the film.
Wong turns in a hammy and near tear-inducing performance as Ricky. His bouts of anger amount to punching rain and the stomachs of villains and he does his best stoic as a rock impression. His martial arts are as good as ever and though this isn’t really a martial arts film per se, he has some good exchanges and takes some good falls. A colorful cast rounds out the performances with Yukari Oshima and Ho Ka Kui offering especially memorable turns. Genre fans will spot character actors Lam Suet and Philip Kwok among the prison population.
Sets are sparse and inmates seem to wander around the grounds at will. It does feel a little lazy, but certainly a realistic prison experience is not what the filmmakers were looking to showcase. The violence is grisly and over the top and the film is full of jaw dropping moments that will either shock or surprise most any viewer.
The use of not so convincing prosthetics adds to the charm of the film and gives ample opportunity for tubing from which artificial blood freely flows. This is never more evident than in the final and most notorious fight, the Warden v. Ricky kitchen fight. Absolutely brutal and hilarious, this is among the most bloodsoaked sequences ever put to celluloid.
Not a good film but one heck of a fun and entertaining ride, The Story of Ricky has well deserved notoriety. It is pure excess and a CAT III film that is among the most accessible to audiences in the West. Despite the pure technical deficiency in the film’s production, there is a real heart and commitment to the script that is infectious.
All actors involved seem to really give their all and while there are so many things that could have been improved, what we get is a unique and crazy film that is full of energy and immense entertainment value. One of the wildest films to ever get made in Hong Kong, this is a much watch, at least once in your life.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Fist of the Northstar, Grappler Baki, and Versus.