In 1991, 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 was born.
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.
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
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Back in 1991, when this film was released, 2001 was still so far away.
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: If Ricky is so strong, why doesn't he escape the prison in the first place like he did so by the end of the film? In the manga where the film is adapted from, Riki-oh only stayed in prison so he can get certain important information from the Prison Warden.
- Ambiguously Gay: Rogan. Being played by a woman doesn't help.
- Angrish: Some of the dialogue in the later fights, especially in the American Dub, devolve into little more than growling, groaning and snarling.
- 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".
- This is a double subversion as the warden is not physically imposing and constantly takes pills for some sort of health condition. Indeed, at the beginning of their fight it appears that Ricky has easily defeated him with one kick. Then the warden transforms into a huge monster and the fight is really on.
- Balloon Belly: After Assistant Warden gets shot with a gas-pressurized bullet, his belly inflates so big until it explodes.
- 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.
- Big Word Shout: BAAAASSSS-TAAAARD!!!!
- 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.
- Creepy Crows: When Oscar's eye is slapped out of his head, a few crows dive to his eyeball to eat it.
- Crosscast Role: For whatever reason, the villain Rogan is played by a woman (probably because no actual man was pretty enough.)
- 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.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Rogan. Probably because he's played by one.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Warden cares deeply for his Manchild son, and even kills one of his own men for making his son cry.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas : Tarzan's last words before getting flattened by the collapsing ceiling:Tarzan: "Goodbye, mom! I'm sorry..." (splat)
- Evil Laugh: Gloriously goofy ones in the Mandarin, Cantonese, AND English versions.
- Expy: Ricky of Kenshiro.
- Eye Scream:
- A few prisoners, including the one who was punished by the Warden.
- Ricky pops out one of Oscar's eyeballs by simply smacking the back of his head.
- The Assistant Warden loses 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-Man 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, as he still dresses as a schoolchild and throws tantrum fits when he doesn't get his way.
- 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.
- Nice Guy: Ricky was sweet enough to try and save the life of a guy who tried to kill him twice.
- 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 Manchild 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.
- People in Rubber Suits: The Warden, post-transformation.
- Pet the Dog: His love for his son is the Warden's only redeeming quality.
- "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: Blood and guts are the order of the day in this movie. You won't find women here unless you count Ricky's dead girlfriend.
- 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.
- Refuge in Audacity: The entire film. This is probably the only film in history where a man tries to strangle another man with intestines. And we don't mean "killing a man and then using his intestines to strangle another man", we mean "a man pulling out his own intestines and then trying to strangle an opponent with them."
- 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:Assistant Warden: Alright!! You got a lot of guts, Oscar!!
- 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.
- 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: Try to name one character who doesn't overact or scream like there's no tomorrow.
- Wretched Hive: The prison is filled with corrupt guards and prison gangs ready to screw you over at a moment's notice. On the other hand, prisoners apparently have control over the lights in their cells, and they're always wandering around the prison unsupervised.
- 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!"