December 4, 2014

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)

Directed by Ngai Choi Lam. Starring Siu-Wong Fan ("Riki-Oh Saiga"), Mei Sheng Fan ("Assistant Warden"), Ka-Kui Ho ("Warden Sugiyama"), and Yukari Ôshima ("Yomi - Huang Chan"). Rated R.

Source: Streaming on The Movie and Music Network
Running time: 01:32:05
Country: Hong Kong, Japan

Set in the year 2001 AD (!!), RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY takes place in a monolithic prison against a Dystopian backdrop. It seems like this film exists in the same world as Brian Trenchard-Smith's Australian exploitation classic TURKEY SHOOT for example, in that it's not futuristic in terms of architecture and technology but there's an overwhelming feeling of oppression because of the Dystopian scenario.

Lead character Riki-Oh (pronounced Riki-Ho) is serving a ten-year sentence in a maximum security prison for manslaughter. The sprawling prison is divided into four sections or "cells", with each cell controlled by its own leader who essentially handles the dirty work for the Oz-like Warden and hook-handed Assistant Warden. Riki immediately establishes himself as someone who's not to be fucked with when he makes an example out of a thuggish inmate and eventually the musclebound machete-wielding leader of his particular section of the prison. Meanwhile, the guards are left to their own devices and abuse some of the weaker inmates, which is one of the many things that fuels Riki's fire throughout the movie.

The character of Riki is very much in the vein of Clint Eastwood's character from HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER or someone of the like; he's a vengeful figure with a tragic back-story, and the manner in which he utterly dismantles his attackers would suggest that he either has super powers or a supernatural background, which is something that's elaborated on early in the story.

Basically, Riki has a big bullseye painted on his back from the very start and the plot builds to a series of confrontations with the film's colorful assortment of bad guys, culminating with the inevitable showdown between Riki and the evil Warden, who bears a striking resemblance to Judge Doom from WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? Other villains include the trio of Rogan, Brandon, and Tarzan, who have an interesting dynamic and are visually similar to General Zod and the baddies from SUPERMAN II; Rogan is effeminate and very androgynous, Brandon is a manipulative runt, and Tarzan is every bit as brutish as his name would suggest.

THE STORY OF RICKY doesn't have the most interesting or original plot, but it's a special movie for a number of reasons. Aside from the colorful characters, the film is noteworthy for its gore, brutality, and numerous fight sequences. Some of the violence is comical and over-the-top, some of it is creative, and some of it is truly cringe-inducing. There are too many highlights to mention when it comes to the gore, but you can expect head-crushings, disembowelment, stabbings galore, and someone attempting to strangle a man with his own intestines. Oh, and a dog gets kicked in half, which is just as random as it is amazing. Another noteworthy bit of violence is a STREETFIGHTER-esque moment when the film abruptly cuts to an X-ray of someone's skull getting crushed during a fight scene. Considering the director's track record, the general absurdity of RIKI-OH shouldn't come as a surprise. I don't know anything about Ngai Choi Lam (or Nam Nai Choi) as a person, but I do know that he also directed THE SEVENTH CURSE and THE CAT; of the two, I've only seen the latter and it features a genuinely impressive choreographed junkyard fight sequence involving a cat and a dog.

RIKI-OH is a fun mash-up of Action, Martial Arts, Horror, Exploitation, and even Sci-Fi, and, other than everything I already mentioned, it features some outstanding practical special effects and even some creature make-up that comes into play in its final minutes. Whether you want to kill ninety minutes by yourself or you're looking for something to watch with a group of friends, this crazy flick is ideal if you're in the mood for something outrageous.

Score: 7.5

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