Monday, October 12, 2009


Today's special: Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, AKA Lik Wong, AKA Strength King.

Above and left: Ricky was born with the strength of 20 men. Ricky feels no pain. Ricky knocks down stone walls with one punch. Please don't fuck with Ricky.

Basically the Citizen Kane of Hong Kong gorror flicks, 1991's Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky was director Lam Ngai Kai's ode to all things violent, bloody, and over-the-top in modern cinema. Heads explode, jaws are torn clean out of people's skulls, punches are thrown completely through stomachs, and the disembowelments, beheadings, and dismemberments all come fast and furious.
But despite its relatively tiny budget, Riki-Oh also happens to be a very original, well-made film, chock full of semi-convincing (I use the term loosely) special effects, stylistic jump-cuts, and weird artsy sequences that wouldn't be out of place in a highbrow German coffee house film. But don't get me wrong: It's still pure PULP, dishing out the instant gratification that all gorehounds need to keep their interest aroused.


Riki-Oh (Fan Siu Wong, also known Stateside as "Ricky") is a young man tormented by inner demons. His girlfriend offs herself after witnessing a heroin deal, and seeking violent retribution on the gang responsible, Ricky finds himself serving a ten-year maximum security bid for manslaughter. But unfortunately for Ricky, we are now in the magical year 2001, and all Chinese prison systems have been privatized. This means, of course, that the warden is a total dick, and that he is running an illegal opium farm inside the prison via a group of powerful inmates known as the Gang of Four. Although Ricky is a peaceful dude who avoids fighting at all costs, it soon becomes apparent that the Gang of Four and the warden want him dead, by any means neccessary.

This is where it gets fun. As inmate after inmate attempts to take Ricky out, a series of fight scenes ensue, which escalate both in gore and intensity as the film plays out. In fact, the gore is laugh-out-loud awesome, as evidenced by a couple scenes shown below. As the DVD packaging of Riki-Oh proclaims: "It's Evil Dead 2, Braindead, and The Matrix times ten, turned up to eleven!". Not far off, although the Matrix reference is both inaccurate and unneccesary. Riki-Oh indeed "goes to eleven", and stays there for a solid 90 minutes.
Ever seen a dude attempt to strangle another dude with his OWN INTESTINES? Thanks to Riki-Oh, you can now, along with a multitude of other scenes so unspeakably gory that they will change your life (for the better) forever. Here's a hint: Giant mutant thrown into a meat grinder? It goes to eleven. Duh.


Due to its 'Category III' rating (the Chinese equivalent of NC-17), Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky was a box office failure in its homeland, but a strong international cult following has kept it alive and profitable throughout the years. It was originally based on a Japanese manga (titled simply Riki-Oh -- check it out here), and was originally shot as an anime series. But the live action version is the real deal. A sequel to The Story of Ricky was produced a couple years later (entitled Dint King, Inside King, AKA Story of Ricky 2, AKA Super Powerful Man), but it received very poor distribution outside China and is both hard to find and only loosely connected to the original.
You can find Ricky on Netflix here, buy him on Amazon here, or watch him via YouTube playlist here.

Ricky goes to ELEVEN. Remember that.


Steven said...

A few tears ago my band played in Savannah, GA. The guys we played with were showing this on a screen behind them during their lengthy set. I'm not a gore hound, but it's everything you say it is and then some. Highly recommended for a good time (even without the sound).

Shelby Cobras said...

Haha "a few tears ago".

I didn't know you were so emo, Steven.

D.Matt said...

Oh man... i usually hate dubs. But Ricky-Oh's dubbed version is amazing.

"Ricky, i have known you since you were 6 and 7 years old."

It's 'awesomely bad' dub job is up there with the old Shaw Bros. kung fu movies! But as you said, amped to 11.

Shelby Cobras said...

"You sure have a lot of guts, Oscar."