Film: Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
has never been more deadly.
"The alternative script for a logical Story of
Ricky was two pages long, one of which consisted of the words "Ricky goes to prison, then decides to leave." The other was just a graphically detailed crayon drawing of a smashed brain."
In 1992, the same year that Tsui Hark made Once Upon a Time in China
, a film that re-defined Martial Arts cinema as a dignified and genuinely artistic medium that portrayed Kung Fu as a metaphor for Chinese cultural pride, along came Lam Ngai-Kai, an obscure Grindhouse director. With the rights to a manga called Riki Oh
in one hand and a shoestring budget in the other, he set out to make the most faithful live action adaptation of a manga ever. 9 disastrous over budgeted months later, The Story Of Ricky
Ricky (or Lik Wong in the original Cantonese version) was your typical red-blooded college kid with the strength of twenty men and ass kicking kung fu
, who like nothing more than to frolic with his innocent girlfriend
Anne (or Yin Yin) and play the flute all day long. That is until his uncle came and taught him Qi-Gong
, a technique which hardens his body to damage by throwing grave markers at him
. Unfortunately, his uncle forgot his own preachings of "Chi-Gong requires you to control your temper" when he taught Ricky the forbidden technique. Before you can say snap-crackle-and-pop, Anne is almost raped by a drug dealer
and runs off a roof to escape. Ricky instantaneously
loses his cool and then proceeds to literally snap-crackle-and-pop the drug dealer
with his stone-shattering strength.
Our story starts when he is sent to prison. To quote the narration "By 2001 AD, capitalistic countries have privatized all government organisations. Prisons, like parking lots, have become franchised business." This basically means that since the prisons run themselves with no government interference, the wardens are allowed to be as damned sadistic as they like to the innocent inmates through "trustworthy" inmates, who enforce the rules.
After witnessing a helpless old man getting his nose shaved off
by Samuel (aka Wild Cat), Ricky decides to trip the bastard over and have a dummy that does not look even remotely like him nail his hand to his face on a conveniently present board-with-nails.
The next day, Samuel hires a literal horse eating fat assassin called Zorro (or Silly Lung
) to get Ricky in the showers. No, not that way
After that All Fucking Hell Breaks Loose.
Did we mention that every other prisoner, warden and guard, who is not Ricky gets popped like a balloon with one punch by our hero
An unintentional classic of comedy cinema, which proceeded to destroy the director's career, doom the leading actor to B-movie mediocrity until a marvelous recent turn as a villain in Ip Man
, and be picked up by an American distributor to be given the most lovably hilarious dub to a Hong Kong movie ever.
For a more intricate synopsis, here's I-Mockery's review.
Tropes Associated with The Story Of Ricky
- Ambiguously Gay: Rogan.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The toughest opponent Riki fights in the prison is the warden because as everyone knows "The warden of any prison has to be the very best in kung-fu".
- Big Word Shout: BAAAASSSS-TAAAARD!!!!
- Berserk Button: Ricky becomes enraged when he finds out dead prisoners are buried with their handcuffs on, and that opium is being grown in the prison. The fact that Oscar and Tarzan are used and discarded by the Warden despite having relatives who depend on them pisses him off even more.
- Big Bad: The Warden.
- Bishōnen: Rogan, who is actually played by a woman in drag.
- Blood Knight: Tarzan, who saves Ricky from Rogan because he doesn't want him dead before they have a chance to fight.
- Bloody Hilarious: It's so completely over-the-top and ridiculous that all of the Gorn ends up looping back around to funny.
- Booby Trap: For whatever reason, some of the prison cells seem to be equipped with these. One fills up with cement, and another has a crushing ceiling.
- Captivity Harmonica: Our titular character is typically seen blowing on a folded leaf in this manner and pulling it off fairly well.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Ricky is pretty strong. Like punching through concrete strong.
- Crapsack World: Though it's a colorful and clean setting, the prison is a horrible place.
- That said, it only seems to be really horrible if you cross the people in charge. Prisoners apparently have control over the lights in their cells, and they're always wandering around the prison unsupervised.
- Creepy Crows: When Oscar's eye is slapped out of his head, a few crows dive to his eyeball to eat it.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: By both Ricky and the villains. Deaths include getting your head horizontally sliced in half with a punch, being skinned alive, getting your head smashed with two hands, getting your belly ripped open with guts spilling out, being put in a meat grinder, and being shot with bullets that cause you to inflate until you explode.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Ricky was sweet enough to try and save the life of a guy who tried to kill him twice.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Rogan. Probably because he's played by one.
- Evil Laugh: Gloriously goofy ones in the Chinese, Cantonese AND English versions.
- Expy: Ricky of Kenshiro.
- Eye Scream:
- A few prisoners, including the one who was punished by the Warden.
- The Assistant Warden looses both his eyes in separate incidents.
- Fat Bastard: Zorro, a fat drooling slob who is hired by Samuel to kill Ricky.
Zorro: "Ricky! Someone paid me thirty pounds of rice to finish you off and turn you into mince meat and put you in a pie."
- Five-Bad Band
- Four Is Death: The Gang of Four.
- Gorn: The movie was clearly intended to be gorntastic, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it runs afoul of its own terrible special effects and acting so the effect is lost completely.
- Improbable Weapon User: The prisoners seem to acquire bizarre weapons with the greatest of ease. Brandon uses knitting needles on strings, Tarzan shows up in one scene with a giant two-pronged pitchfork, and ill-fated minor character Andrew is about to chop the Fink's head in half with a giant saw blade when Oscar turns the tables on him.
- Invincible Hero: Ricky, who can gargle razor blades and be buried alive for a week and still live.
- Jabba Table Manners: The overweight Assistant Warden and the Warden wolf down banquets while their prisoners starve on rice rations and mysterious meat made in the prison's kitchen. Heck, even their dogs get steak for dinner!
- Kick the Dog: The Warden and the Assistant Warden rarely do anything else. The Gang of Four do their share of dog-kicking as well, even Oscar and Tarzan, who aren't all that bad compared to Rogan and Brandon, who skin Oscar's poor mute godson Alan alive when he refuses to kill Ricky. Rogan even literally kicks a dog...IN HALF.
- Large Ham: Almost everybody. Even more so in the dub.
- Manchild: The Warden's son and a pretty obvious one at that.
- Made of Iron: Qi-Gong allows Ricky to shrug off fatal injuries and regenerate damage like Wile E Coyote. In one scene, Oscar slashes Ricky's arm open — so Ricky ties the tendons in his arm back together and the arm is good as new.
- Made of Plasticine: Most people get killed in especially spectacular ways, and since the majority of the special effects involve Harryhausen (on a shoestring-budget) style stop motion, they are LITERALLY made of plasticine.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Ricky's backstory contradicts itself in the very next scene.
- One-Winged Angel: For no established reason, the Warden turns into a giant ogre creature at the end.
- Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Ricky putting the Warden in a meat grinder. The actor playing Ricky took three days to wash out the fake blood.
- Papa Wolf: The Warden dotes on his overgrown Man Child of a son and is fiercely protective of him. During his intro he kills one of his mooks for making his son trip and cry.
- Parody Stu: Ricky.
- People in Rubber Suits: The Warden, post-transformation.
- Playing Gertrude: Ricky is 21 years old, Fan Sui-Wong was barely 18 when he played him.
- Pop Goes the Human: The Warden's "elephant gun" seems to do this to people, as the Assistant Warden and Brandon find out firsthand.
- Rated M for Manly
- Red Right Hand: The Assistant Warden's hook and glass eye.
- Redemption Equals Death: Tarzan holds up the crushing ceiling long enough for Ricky to escape.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: As Ricky literally tears the prison apart after some of his buddies are killed.
- Rule of Cool: What the movie tries to achieve with all it gory special effects and hammy acting.
- Seppuku: Oscar cuts himself open and tries to strangle Ricky with his own intestines, to which the Assistant Warden encouragingly shouts in the dub:
- Strong as They Need to Be: Ricky can get rid of chains and handcuffs, hold a Descending Ceiling, tear a hole in the prison wall... yet a prison cell is able to hold him. Also, in one scene he removes a nail from his hand nonchalant, but is affected by a spiked weapon later.
- Stupid Sexy Rogan: Justified by the fact that he's actually a real woman clearly playing a man.
- The Speechless: Alan, on account of missing a tongue.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ricky's girlfriend, who doesn't think about escaping or hiding from the drug dealers for her life and instead jumps off the roof to her death.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Back in 1992, when this film was released, 2001 was still so far away.
- Wardens Are Evil: The Warden is the Big Bad. He grinds his prisoners up in the kitchens to make food out of them.
- We Can Rule Together / Klingon Promotion: After Ricky kills Oscar, the Assistant Warden offers him the dead man's place in the Gang of Four.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Oscar has some degree of honor and a great respect for Ricky, and tries to keep order in his wing of the prison.
- Tarzan also skirts this at times.
- World of Ham
- X Meets Y: Cool Hand Luke meets Hobo with a Shotgun.
- You Killed My Father: Averted. Oscar's godson - a quiet little guy - forgives Ricky for killing Oscar.
- Your Head A Splode: Used to introduce the Gang of Four. Also hilarious.
Assistant Warden: "Tarzan used to open coconuts this way. Ricky's head's going to explode now!"