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#2,799. Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki (1991) - Spotlight on Hong Kong

Posted on the 13 August 2022 by Dvdinfatuation
#2,799. Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki (1991) - Spotlight on Hong Kong
Terms like “blood drenched” and “exceedingly gory” don’t come close to preparing you for the experience of watching 1991’s Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. The blood and carnage in this movie is off the chain, and pitched at such a high energy that you rarely get a moment to catch your breath.
It’s the near future, and most of the prisons in Hong Kong have been privatized. Skilled fighter Ricky (Fan Siu-Wong) is a new inmate at one such facility, a prison run by a sadistic assistant warden (Fan Mei-Sheng) and controlled by a group of prisoners known as the “Gang of Four”, all of whom rely on violence and intimidation to maintain the status-quo.
But rest assured, if Ricky has anything to say about it, their reign of terror, as well as that of the warden himself (Ho Ka-Kui), will soon come to a bloody end!
Trying to decide which moment in Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is its most violent is an act of futility. Soon after his arrival at the prison, Ricky unleashes his own brand of justice on a bully named Wildcat (Lam Kai-Wing), who had been terrorizing an elderly inmate. As Wildcat is walking away from the scene, Ricky trips him, causing the surprised bully to fall face-first into a board of nails (we even see one nail enter his eye, not the greatest effect, but damn did it make me cringe all the same). Angered and humiliated, Wildcat eventually surprises Ricky in the shower, only to have his guts spilled onto the floor when Ricky punches a hole clear through him!
These aren’t even the film’s most violent sequences. While fighting Ricky, Hai (Frankie Chin), one the Gang of Four, tries to get the upper hand by grabbing his own intestines (which, like Wildcat’s, are now out in the open) and strangling Ricky with them!
As you can see, the violence and gore in Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is way over the top, keeping the movie true to the spirit of the manga series (which was published between 1988 and 1990) that inspired it. Many of its characters are equally as exaggerated. For a time, we think the assistant warden is the film’s most villainous character. He even tries to shoot Ricky at one point. That is, until we meet the warden himself, who is outlandishly devious and something of an experienced fighter himself (the final showdown between him and Ricky is one for the books). As for the “Gang of Four”, each rules a different wing of the prison and has their own unique power, which they use to keep the other prisoners at bay. Huang Chung (Yukari Oshima) has a punch that can stop a man’s heart, while Baishen (Wong Kwai-Hung) is an expert with needles, throwing them with perfect accuracy.
All of the performances are good, but standing head and shoulders above the rest is Fan Siu-Wong’s portrayal of Ricky, who, we discover early one, is in prison for murdering a drug lord (Lam Suet) indirectly responsible for the death of Ricky’s beloved girlfriend Keiko (Gloria Yip). A world-class fighter with a bad temper that he can’t always control, Ricky is a hero who can take as well as he gives; some of the film’s most violent scenes are when Ricky himself is injured.
Shying away from absolutely nothing and giving viewers more violence and gore than they can handle, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is as entertaining as a movie of this sort can possibly be. But be warned: if exploding heads and entrails aren’t your thing, this is not the film for you. Everyone else, buckle up for one hell of a ride!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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