Friday, 23 March 2012

Movie B Bad #1: Story of Ricky (1991)

Story of Ricky AKA Riki-Oh is a 1991 exploitation kung-fu movie based on a 1980s manga comic of the same name. Produced in Hong Kong, the film is directed by Ngai Kai Lam and stars Siu-Wong Fan as the eponymous hero. The film is world famous for both it's excessive use of gore and poorly executed special effects and is considered a cult classic.

 The film is set in the bleak dystopian year of 2001 and (unsurprisingly) follows the story of Ricky, a mysterious young man who finds himself in one of the country's new privatised and brutal prison systems. Not one to quietly pay his debt to society, Ricky soon makes enemies amongst the small-time prison thugs and the one-eyed assistant warden. This rapidly escalates to involve Ricky in a deadly feud with the gang of four; Oscar, Rogan, Brandon and Tarzan. The gang of four are the respective leaders of each of the prison wings (north, south, east and west) and one-by-one Ricky rips through them in ultra-gorey and hilarious fashion. In between fight sequences, we learn of Ricky's background and how his uncle taught him the ancient martial art of Qigong. This explains Ricky's apparant invincibity and also how he avenged his girlfriends death, landing him in possibly the most violent prison ever seen on-screen. Through these mystical powers he's able to dismember the gang of four and confront the head warden. However, the warden has some unusual powers of his own and Ricky has to spill extremely large buckets of blood before he can set his fellow prisoners free.

 The only reason most people have heard of this film is the gore, even if you haven't seen the whole film, chances are you've seen a still, or a clip. The effects are certainly something to behold, whether shockingly violent or just shocking, and are very evenly distributed throughout the film. It's very difficult to become bored with the actual plot of the film as round every corner there's someone just waiting to have their head punched off, and even though the switch to a rubber dummy isn't very subtle, it is certainly enjoyable. Though this type of gore is synonymous with exploitation cinema, it also has a real comic-book feel to it due to the story being adapted from an actual manga. This stops the film from becoming too miserable, and the sheer creativity involved in some of the violence on display is nothing short of inspired.

The film also works very well as a kung-fu film. I don't ususally watch foreign films that are dubbed unless they're already bad movies, in which case it can only add to the hilarity. Most of these Chinese prisoners seem to have acquired a southern American accent, this makes nearly every line of dialogue far funnier than intended and is great fun. The basic plot of the film is also rooted in kung-fu tradition, a mighty warrior must defeat four other warriors in order to confront his nemesis and set his brothers free. It's actually quite a nice touch to update this Chinese folklore and apply it to a futuristic (circa 1991) prison setting.

Story of Ricky is shoddy, gory and super cheesy, and it's brilliant! The Ricky character is easy to get behind as an invincible bad ass, with just enough humanity to gain him a following amongst his fellow inmates. Poor dubbing, poor special effects and poor set design make this a great bad movie. For a similar more recent film I would reccomend Tokyo Gore Police (2008), an even bloodier film with even more surreal moments. Just remeber, if you can't repair your own forearm ligaments with your teeth, then you're clearly not cut out for prison.

4 Negative stars ****

Have you ever heard of the film? What's the goriest film you've seen?


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