Dec 23, 2010

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

This is one film that doesn't need any sort of introduction but I'll relay one for those folks unfortunate enough to have not seen this splatter classic. The Story of Ricky is an unusual tale of a psychotic behind bars who quickly establishes himself as somewhat of an anti-hero. Where he had reason to murder the gangster responsible for his girlfriend's death, this reason does him no good behind bars in a maximum security prison ran by a sadistic warden and a gang of four villains, each with their own specific eccentricities and styles. Like most prison films but lacking in the department of male rape. With a wacky disposition of murder and subpar kung-fu, Riki-Oh is comic adrenaline concentrate. The film has enough sense to embrace a comedic aspect of the violence. Had it not, this film would have sunk with the low-budget German splatter trash pouring out of their country by way of bigs boys with little dreams.

Advancing on a tier-type ladder is what leads Ricky to triumph. The standard progression of "boss battles" bridges the gap of narrative and flashbacks to create something animated with quirk. Lam Nai-choi has done his homework indeed. Basing off of what is the Westerner's approach to action films with unbelievable bad asses, the quota is met with both the ingredients of a protagonist that bleeds and the invincible hero trope. This is on display during the fight with Oscar, but one of the Gang of Four, when Ricky's tendon is severed with a blade. Standing statuesque, he slowly raises his arms and proceeds to pull his tendons out to tie them together, successfully giving him mobility in his arm again. With the simple formula of "best of both worlds", there is simply nothing to not love in this minimal epic. Being adapted straight from a manga of the same name, Riki-Oh is an excellent adaptation worthy of every meter of notoriety earned.

Interestingly enough, Riki-Oh was the first film to receive the CATIII rating for its violence, and not sex. The world of exploitation over in the East is strictly dominated by perversion and not dismemberment, as us Westerners advocate. To see a nipple is obscene, but for ruthless bloodshed, enjoyment will be had. This hypocrisy is why I normally traverse to indulge in film. I am one of the few who prefer complex eroticism and lewd fetishism to the beheadings and bludgeoning. Riki-Oh, of course, is the exception. Being completely void of any sexuality, Riki-Oh manages to entertain and amass enormous respect from me for the grossly nostalgic effect it has on all. Even to strangers of cinema is Riki-Oh endearing and charming, in that gross syrupy way. Simply, The Story of Ricky is short and sweet. The pacing is quite efficient as well as to never skip into the plane of mundane. If you're reading this, most likely you've seen this gem. If you haven't, I recommend doing so immediately as you'd be hard pressed to enjoy any other such lunacy as much as this.


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