AKA Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, Riki-Oh, Lik Wong, King of Strength
Starring Fan Siu-Wong, Fan Mei-Sheng, William Ho Ka-Kui, Yukari Oshima, Tetsuro Tamba, Gloria Yip Wan-Yee, Phillip Kwok Chun-Fung, Lam Suet, Koichi Sugisaki, Frankie Chan Chi-Leung, Chan Ging, Chan Kwok-Bong, Chang Gan-Wing, Lam Kai-Wing
Directed by Lam Nai-Choi
Expectations: High. It’s been too long since I’ve seen this.
By 2001 AD, capitalistic countries have privatized all government organizations. Prisons, like car-parks, have become franchised business…
Like Escape From New York, Story of Ricky tells the story of a man being sent to prison. But unlike Snake Plissken, Ricky holds the ability to literally punch through anything, and he does just that in nearly every one of his scenes in the film. And when I say anything, I mean it. The dude puts his fist through everything it comes in contact with: heads, walls, prison bars, stomachs, elbows, other fists… the list goes on. The amount of insanely over-the-top gore is off the chart, making Story of Ricky an absolute must-see.
The one thing that really stuck out to me this time was how much it felt like a live-action anime film. I dig some digging and very quickly realized why: Story of Ricky is an adaptation of the manga Riki-Oh. It’s always interesting to see one culture’s take on another’s art, and Story of Ricky is a match made in heaven. The ability of HK filmmakers to take fantasy and martial arts in directions previously unimagined, coupled with the wildly inventive, violent tendencies of the Japanese, creates a film so unique and memorable that it will go down in history as one of the most over-the-top gorefests of all time. There were also two OVA based on the manga, produced prior to this film, but I have a hard time imagining even animation coming close to the level of over-the-top hilarity that this film manages. Story of Ricky is a seriously impressive work, and the gore is absolutely top-notch stuff.
I should also mention the star of the show: Fan Siu-Wong. He’s the son of notable Shaw player Fan Mei-Sheng (who also plays the one-eyed assistant warden here). Siu-Wong’s on-screen charisma is immense, and he plays the role of Ricky with a palpable glee. The fights in the film are never lengthy because of Ricky’s super strength, and they betray the actor’s martial skill. He’s actually really competent, but you’d never know it from the fights here because this isn’t a choreography film, it’s an FX film. He’s great in Ip Man, though, so if you want to see him strut his stuff without punching through everything, that’s a great place to start. But honestly, I haven’t seen too much else that he’s been in, so perhaps I’m not the best source of information regarding him. In any case, I feel he could have been a huge star, based on his soft, boyish face and his martial prowess, but it seems that he’s been mostly relegated to second-tier roles in the years following Story of Ricky. Maybe he’ll be the next Donnie Yen, eventually taking up the mantle of the HK greats after paying his dues for years. I would totally welcome that.
In a film populated almost exclusively with inventive, fun characters, my favorite is definitely Fan Mei-Sheng’s assistant warden. He not only has one eye, he also has a hook claw for a hand, and he stores his breath mints inside of his glass eye. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen a man eat mints out of his own eye, or drink the water his glass eye’s been soaking in. And then there’s his office featuring every available bit of shelf space crammed full of big-box VHS porno tapes. They never mention it, or make any sort of obvious shot of them, but this is one of my favorite comedic touches in a film full of them.
Story of Ricky is an incredible piece of work, and the perfect film to feature at a midnight screening or at home with your best buds. Hilarious, disgusting, and extremely entertaining, Story of Ricky is quite possibly one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve ever seen. Watch it, y’all.
Futures Passed continues tomorrow with a look into a 2004 where time travel is a reality. Any guesses?