Story of Ricky
AKA: Rikki O, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
Director: Lam Nai-Choi
Stars: Fan Siu-Wong, Yukari Oshima, Phillip Kwok
I must confess -- I love gore. As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to put blood and guts in your movies, you should go all the way... none of this bloodless crap like Scream. So when I heard about Story of Ricky (which is based on a popular Japanese anime named Rikki O) supposedly being the goriest kung fu movie ever I was psyched.
Before I get away from myself, let me set up the plot. Ricky Ho (Fan) learns a form of unstoppable kung fu from his uncle that uses the other person's force for strength. This means little Ricky can literally punch through anyone in his way. He puts his kung fu to use on a drug pusher responsible for killing his girlfriend and ends up in prison, where -- like many other prison movies -- the gangsters run the place. This time they're led by a team known as "The Gang of Four," who each have their own special powers, like being able to crush people's heads like peanut shells or shoot razor-sharp needles from their hands. Ricky doesn't want to fight, but is pushed in a confrontation with the assistant warden (a big fat guy with a hook for a hand and who stores breath mints in his eye socket -- yes, I'm serious -- in his eye socket) after "fat boy" threatens Ricky's family. The Gang of Four, like a pack of dogs, is unleashed on Ricky, who reluctantly fights one (during which he ties his severed tendons back together with his own teeth!). The rest of the prisoners want Ricky to kill the rest, but he doesn't -- until he finds poppy leaves. Remembering his dead girlfriend, Ricky goes out for revenge. I won't spoil the rest for you, but the finale involves the warden and a meat grinder. A very large meat grinder.
There's really a lot going against Story of Ricky. The plot is tired and full of cliches, the actors are all pretty bad, the set designs are cheap, the movie is shot very poorly and the kung fu just isn't that good. But I had a great time watching it. Story of Ricky is indeed the goriest martial arts film, at least that I've seen. It makes Sonny Chiba's classic The Streetfighter look anemic by comparison -- and let's not forget that The Streetfighter featured a man's scrotum being ripped off! It isn't just the volume of blood that makes Story of Ricky stand out; it's the creativity for which it is used. There are just simply so many crazy things in the movie (such as a man using his own intestines to try and strangle Ricky), it's quite exhilirating in a sick, demented sort of way. Combined with the bad production values and lousy script, it's quite funny as well, in that "so bad that it's good" kind of way.
It's not a great movie by any means, but if you want to see just how far HK movies will go, check out Story of Ricky. You'll have a bloody great time.
Note: It should probably be said that there are many different video versions of Story of Ricky. John Charles notes in his review on the Mobius site that "the HK video versions, from Star Entertainment (LD,VCD, and PAL VHS) are somewhat cut and lack subtitles. There is a subtitled Taiwanese release, from Vidi Video, but it is even more edited. A complete version was issued by THC Video but it is dubbed in Japanese. That version ended up being subtitled by Video Search of Miami and their edition was widely circulated by other 'no rights given or implied' outfits as well." The new HK DVD is apparently uncut and has decent picture and sound quality. If you cannot track down or afford the HK DVD, I would recommend Tokyo Shock's US VHS or DVD release, which goes under the title Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Even though it is dubbed (which I abhor) the picture is nicely letterboxed -- though it's not quite as clear as the Japanese version. However, all of the fabulous gore effects (including the head crushing, which was featured on the "5 Questions" segment of The Daily Show and the guy exploding from the "5 Questions" segment of The Late Late Show) are intact. Carlos Bielsa also sent a note that there is a fully uncut version available in Spain under the Manga Video label, but it is dubbed in Spanish.
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This DVD is available for purchase at www.hkflix.com