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力王 (1992)
Story of Ricky

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 11/12/2012
Summary: Completely Mad!

At 18, Ricky is a normal young boy with a sweet girlfriend, an interest in playing the flute and a strong sense of justice. Oh, and super strength. At 21, Ricky is sent to prison for murder, and now seems to be a quivering ball of sullen rage. What could have happened to make him like this? And does he still have super strength?

The answer to the first question does come eventually, but it hardly matters because the answer to the second question is a resounding "Yes!". At the dawn of the 21st century, prisons have all been privatised and are run for profit, with the prisoners being a source of cheap labour. The prison that Ricky is sent to is run by a corrupt, sadistic warden (is there any other kind in movies?), who keeps the prisoners in line with the help of his Gang Of Four - a group of powerful fighters. Despite his major change in attitude, Ricky still has a strong sense of justice. And super strength.

The rest of the plot writes itself, really... or it would, even if it hadn't already been written as a manga called RIKI-OH. Director Lam Nai-Choi was clearly a fan of Japanese manga/anime, and also unusually interested in special effects for a Hong Kong director. He gets to indulge both these interests to the full in STORY OF RICKY. I haven't seen the Japanese anime versions of the story, but this live action film certainly feels more like an 18+ anime such as FIST OF THE NORTH STAR than it does any other film that Hong Kong has ever produced. I can't think of anything else quite like it from anywhere when it was released in 1992... it wasn't really until Takashi Miike produced ICHI THE KILLER a decade later that there was any live action film that STORY OF RICKY could easily be compared to.

What STORY OF RICKY is about is gore. Ricky's super strength is truly formidable, and a blow from Ricky's fist tends to reduce whatever body part it impacts to meat. Dead, bloody meat. People get eviscerated, decapitated, amputated and generally destroyed when they cross Ricky... and his opponents are typically no less thorough in their brutality, though most of them require the assistance of weaponry to achieve the level of injury that Ricky can inflict with his fists.

Japanese manga has been at the forefront of violence and gore for a very long time, and extreme body disruption is nothing too suprising there. It's a lot harder to achieve the same kind of effect in a live action movie, largely because most actors would object strongly to having their entrails pulled out to strangle somebody with. Lam Nai-Choi clearly wanted to try to recreate the manga/anime feel though, and his special effects and makeup team show great creativity in realising the style.

There's no CGI here, just good old fashioned props, prosthetics and make-up effects. ICHI THE KILLER showed some of the creative violence that could be wrought with computer graphics, but that was clearly outside the realms of practicality for a Hong Kong film in 1992 (even a big budget Hollywood film would have struggled at that time). Even with the remarkable advances in CGI since 1992, there's still something more satisfying about 'real' special effects anyway, even if modern digital effects look more realistic. The current king of gore is undoubtedly Japan's Noboru Iguchi, whose low budget productions like THE MACHINE GIRL are all based around prosthetic and make up effects, and all the more enjoyable for it.

I suppose we have STORY OF RICKY to thank for films like MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD and TOKYO GORE POLICE, albeit indirectly. To the best of my knowledge it was the first film to make violent, silly gore the central focus of the entire film, and certainly set the bar for what effect a super strong punch to the jaw ought to produce. In most other respects the film is probably a turd, but who has time to even notice that when people are getting their faces sliced off? STORY OF RICKY earned its semi-classic status simply by being quite unlike anything else out there - and that's always a good thing.

Director Lam Nai-Choi was always something of an enigma... he made a few almost great films, but he never really seemed to be part of the Kong Kong film-making community, and I know absolutely nothing about him. STORY OF RICKY appears to have been about the last film he ever directed, which is a shame.

STORY OF RICKY was probably the first starring role for Fan Siu-Wong, who had clearly worked hard on his physique since his appearance as a scrawny kid in RIGHTING WRONGS six years earlier. He's in great shape, and shows some fairly convincing martial arts skills - I always wondered why he was never more of a star than he was. I think he worked mainly in TV, though he's racked up quite a few movie credits in the intervening years - mostly in supporting roles though. He's not the world's greatest actor, but he's clearly a skilled martial artist and surely handsome enough to justify more lead roles (though perhaps his slightly Thai looks aren't considered handsome in his home country?).

Still, with a credit like "Ricky in STORY OF RICKY" on his resume, nobody's career could ever be considered a failure :-)

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 02/12/2007

“Story of Ricky O” is one of the grandest of Grand Guignol spectacles, a completely over the top extravaganza of limb-ripping, eye gouging, bloodletting and intestine spilling. It has a pumped up and ripped hero, a villain could have stolen the show and Oshima Yukari in black leather male drag. It even has Lam Suet for a couple of scenes.

We know this will not be a typical prison movie when the bus full of new convicts pulls up in front of the barred gate and parks on tarmac that is obviously stained with blood—a lot of blood. A penal institution that doesn’t bother to have the blood scrubbed off its driveway is a pretty tough place. Most the prisoners don’t have things too rough, though. They spend most of their time hanging around in wide, well lit hallways wondering whose disembowelment will be the entertainment for tonight—and perhaps the next day’s sausage. The guards are pretty ineffectual which is telegraphed by their uniforms which are powder blue knock-offs of Nazi SS gear. They have little interest in administering discipline or enforcing regulations and live in fear of the inmate cell block bosses. The bosses are the real rulers of the prison—the assistant warden uses them to keep the prisoners in line which is only important because convicts are a cheap source of labor that the prison owners exploit for their profit.

The assistant warden, currently in charge while the warden vacations in Hawaii, is insanely gruesome. He obviously has been injured in the past since he has a set of double hooks that replace one of his hands and a glass eye that he pops in when expecting guests—and uses as a place to store mints he offers his visitors. The first time we see this double hook it is holding a piece of meat while the AW cuts it. When next deployed it is also to control what has become meat but in a disgusting and shocking way. Like everyone else in authority here the he wants to know what Ricky was doing during two years of his record that are blank. These two years are the MacGuffin of “Story of Ricky”—the bad guys want to find out what happened then, which they (and the audience) never do. It serves to simply push the plot along and give the prison managers a reason to torture Ricky which they do with gleeful abandon. We don’t care what Ricky was doing, of course, since we are mainly interested in how the ceiling gets sprayed with blood in the next scene.

There are four cell blocks, North, South, East and West. Each is controlled by a boss. Yukarki is the toughest of the lot, or at least the one who inflicts and suffers the most damage. She looks great in a short, angular wig and a black leather jumpsuit and practices a type of kung fu that includes a blow to the fatal muscle of the heart. Hai, the boss of the block to which Ricky is assigned, is a caricature of a triad or yakuza leader, enforcing family discipline. Blondie is a little guy who can throw spikes attached to wires right through a person with the flick of a wrist and Tarzan is huge and strong enough to bend cell bars. Each of them is willing to die in the service of whatever they believe in—an example is the justly celebrated scene in which Hai, having had his stomach punched open by Ricky (by no means Ricky’s most lethal move) grabs his own intestines and tries to strangle his opponent. Obviously it couldn’t work—intestines seem much too slippery and stretchy to serve as a garrote—but it is the thought that counts.

Ricky himself isn’t an interesting character. He can’t be killed—we find out that bullets can’t harm him in a throw away line from the warden and he can’t even be injured badly or at least permanently. The escalating violence directed at him is what drives the movie. It begins almost benignly with a couple of huge tough guys trying to beat him up and ratchets upward regularly almost with each scene. He is buried alive (doesn’t kill him) has his mouth stuffed with double edged razor blades and taped shut (also a failure) , is encased in cement (ditto) and hit with the shovel of a large backhoe (of course it doesn’t work). The only area of torture that was ignored was use of animals—there were no poisonous snakes, hungry lions or toothy alligators to be found. The producers probably spent the animal wrangler budget on all the papier-mâché bricks for the prison walls.

There is a structure to “Story of Ricky”—something evil is going on in the prison—something besides mangling inmates and overacting, that is. Ricky is out to destroy this evil and he does so and the various obstacles he has to overcome—mainly by killing them in increasingly outlandish ways keeps the story moving forward. What is missing is a plot—there isn’t any reason for anyone to do anything in the first half of the movie and by the time we discover what might be Ricky’s reason for being in this particular prison we are so sated by the mangled limbs, crushed heads and exploding bodies that we don’t really care.

One linguistic side note: the four cell block bosses are referred to a few times as “The Gang of Four”. I don’t know if that term in either Cantonese or Mandarin is the same or close to the same as the “Gang of Four” used pejoratively to describe those blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution by the generation of PRC leaders immediately after the death of Mao Zedong but it was striking to see it in a Chinese (albeit Hong Kong pre-1997) movie.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 12/31/2006
Summary: why hadn't i already watched this?

ricky (fan siu-wong) is imprisoned in a privately run jail, after taking revenge on the people responsible for his girlfriend's death. the prison is run using fear and intimidation, in the form of 'the gang of four'; not the post-punk band, but four vicious inmates. the one-eyed assistant warden (fan mei-sheng - father of fan sui-wong) becomes scared of ricky, when he sees that he is inspiring the other inmates to rebel against the tyrannical regime...

this film is great and could easily establish itself as a new favourite of mine. in essence, it is just a string of people trying to beat up ricky, starting with inmates, working up to the prison warden. of course, they all fail miserably and ricky triumphs. what makes this film so much fun, is not slick choreography or brutal realism, but completely over the top gore; ricky literally punches holes in people! sure, some of the special effects are a bit hokey, but they've got that lovable 'evil dead' / 'bad taste' quality to them. something i've not seen come out of hong kong before.

lam ngai-kai's masterstroke is making sure that nothing in the film is played for laughs; by playing it straight, no matter how ridiculous things get, he manages to craft something that is quite remarkable.

an untra-violent, slice of prime entertainment.

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

I must confess -- I love gore. As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to put blood and guts in your movies, you should go all the way... none of this bloodless crap like Scream. So when I heard about Story of Ricky (which is based on a popular Japanese anime named Rikki O) supposedly being the goriest kung fu movie ever I was psyched.

Before I get away from myself, let me set up the plot. Ricky Ho (Fan) learns a form of unstoppable kung fu from his uncle that uses the other person's force for strength. This means little Ricky can literally punch through anyone in his way. He puts his kung fu to use on a drug pusher responsible for killing his girlfriend and ends up in prison, where -- like many other prison movies -- the gangsters run the place. This time they're led by a team known as "The Gang of Four," who each have their own special powers, like being able to crush people's heads like peanut shells or shoot razor-sharp needles from their hands. Ricky doesn't want to fight, but is pushed in a confrontation with the assistant warden (a big fat guy with a hook for a hand and who stores breath mints in his eye socket -- yes, I'm serious -- in his eye socket) after "fat boy" threatens Ricky's family. The Gang of Four, like a pack of dogs, is unleashed on Ricky, who reluctantly fights one (during which he ties his severed tendons back together with his own teeth!). The rest of the prisoners want Ricky to kill the rest, but he doesn't -- until he finds poppy leaves. Remembering his dead girlfriend, Ricky goes out for revenge. I won't spoil the rest for you, but the finale involves the warden and a meat grinder. A very large meat grinder.

There's really a lot going against Story of Ricky. The plot is tired and full of cliches, the actors are all pretty bad, the set designs are cheap, the movie is shot very poorly and the kung fu just isn't that good. But I had a great time watching it. Story of Ricky is indeed the goriest martial arts film, at least that I've seen. It makes Sonny Chiba's classic The Streetfighter look anemic by comparison -- and let's not forget that The Streetfighter featured a man's scrotum being ripped off! It isn't just the volume of blood that makes Story of Ricky stand out; it's the creativity for which it is used. There are just simply so many crazy things in the movie (such as a man using his own intestines to try and strangle Ricky), it's quite exhilirating in a sick, demented sort of way. Combined with the bad production values and lousy script, it's quite funny as well, in that "so bad that it's good" kind of way.

It's not a great movie by any means, but if you want to see just how far HK movies will go, check out Story of Ricky. You'll have a bloody great time.

Note: It should probably be said that there are many different video versions of Story of Ricky. John Charles notes in his review on the Mobius site that "the HK video versions, from Star Entertainment (LD,VCD, and PAL VHS) are somewhat cut and lack subtitles. There is a subtitled Taiwanese release, from Vidi Video, but it is even more edited. A complete version was issued by THC Video but it is dubbed in Japanese. That version ended up being subtitled by Video Search of Miami and their edition was widely circulated by other 'no rights given or implied' outfits as well." The new HK DVD is apparently uncut and has decent picture and sound quality. If you cannot track down or afford the HK DVD, I would recommend Tokyo Shock's US VHS or DVD release, which goes under the title Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Even though it is dubbed (which I abhor) the picture is nicely letterboxed -- though it's not quite as clear as the Japanese version. However, all of the fabulous gore effects (including the head crushing, which was featured on the "5 Questions" segment of The Daily Show and the guy exploding from the "5 Questions" segment of The Late Late Show) are intact. Carlos Bielsa also sent a note that there is a fully uncut version available in Spain under the Manga Video label, but it is dubbed in Spanish.

[review from]

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 06/07/2005
Summary: Gore galore!!


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Sound format: Mono

After killing the drug-addicted lowlife who murdered his fiancée, an unlucky strongman (Terry Fan Siu-wong) is remanded to a corrupt prison where he's forced to defend himself against inmates and tyrannical officials, spilling gallons of blood and gore along the way...

Notorious for its splattery violence and hyper-stylized melodrama, STORY OF RICKY - derived from the Japanese manga 'Riki-Oh' created by Tetsuya Saruwatari - is directed by former cinematographer Laam Naai-choi, whose earlier efforts (THE SEVENTH CURSE, EROTIC GHOST STORY, etc.) rarely scaled the same dizzy heights of outrage and audacity. Shot on a shoestring budget in Macao, the film combines high octane bloodshed with "Carry On"-style humor (watch out for the incredible moment when a character uses his intestines as a weapon!), mixed with visual references to earlier exploitation fare such as THE STREET FIGHTER (Gekitotsu! Satsujinken, 1974) and THE FURY (1978), though the makeup effects are rudimentary at best, in keeping with the film's comic-book tone.

Japanese actress Yukari Oshima takes second billing as one of the *male* villains (she's dubbed with a masculine voice), and fan favorite Gloria Yip Wan-yee (SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL) plays the hero's ill-fated girlfriend in a series of corny 'feel-good' flashbacks. But the film belongs to handsome, hunky Terry Fan, ripping his shirt off at the drop of an intestine and posing impressively for the various combat sequences. Clothed or unclothed, he's never less than magnificent to behold, and director Laam uses the actor's exaggerated studliness to lampoon the homoerotic spectacle which once fuelled 'golden age' kung fu pictures. It ain't Shakespeare, but trash/splatter fans will embrace the movie with gusto.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 08/15/2003
Summary: you can not take this movie seriously!!

This movie, though billed as a action movie really has little action.

It reminds me of WANG YU's one armed boxer who would kill opponents with one punch. This is simliar but the pnuch is a lot more powerful!! Because of this, the action is limited!!

Why does this remind me of the "toxic avenger" also? Because the action is so unbelieveable, you can't help but to laugh!!

In terms of plot, minimal!! I mean Ricky seems to be a loner, the film doesn't show he establishing rapport with anybody but he seems to care a hell of a lot about them.

One of the bloodest movies you will ever see. A can see why this is a cult movie. By no means a classic this movie is very hard to rate because you are suppose to take the violence seriously but you just can't!!

Worth a viewing to make up your own minds!!


Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/15/2003

Lately I've been paying more attention to Terry Fan Siu Wong. I caught him 6 months ago in Flying Dragon, Leaping Tiger, and then saw him in such TV series as "Demi Gods Semi Devils 1997," and recently in "Dragons of the Orient" in which he demonstrates incredible skill and agility. It's a shame that Fan hasn't advanced much in his movie career. I would love to see more martial arts features starring him.

The Chinese name of Ricky, Li Wang (meaning Power Master), makes more sense when his uncle spoke, "You showed great strength as a child, so I called you [Ricky]." Does Ricky mean anything in English? Well, not that I know of, but Power Master is a well-known character in East Asia. The character has even been implemented in a Japanese video game called Saturday Night Slammasters (and in its spin-offs).

Before I saw the movie, my impression of Ricky was that of an angry bully. However, a nice surprise turned out that he is actually a pretty nice guy: "Teach me qi-gong, so I help the weak," he pleads to his uncle. It's also pretty cool to see him playing flute. Unfortunately, this movie depicts so much gore and cruelty that Ricky's good nature cannot be felt.

I watched the English dub, which is somewhat better than usual. Unfortunately, or maybe not so unfortunately, they renamed all the characters into English names like Charlie and Oscar. The spoken English and the Eng subtitles are two different things. The female voices were rather weird, because they sounded 70% male and 30% female. But not to worry, because there is only one female character (who speaks anyway) in the movie.

Although this is not the most violent movie, it still makes one wonder how Fan can sleep at night the week after shooting the finale ala "ground meat" scene. If gore is your thing, this may be your best thing. Personally, violence is not my cup of tea, although Fan Siu Wong is quite effective as the bittersweet Ricky. He should do much better roles, no doubt.


Reviewed by: Tatus
Date: 12/19/2002
Summary: Ricky Oh my God!!

What can i say, it's the first hk movie i have seen that is actually improved upon if watched with the english dubover. i laughed so much at this film i was nearly ill for a month, i don't think it's intentionally ment to be funny but it is a riot. plus all the gore - tons and tons of claret flying everywhere and chunks of people shooting off in all directions. one of the goriest films i've ever seen. i hope they make a sequal. this is definatley one to watch with the boys whilst under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol, a theory i proved only last night when i got together with a few buddies and there was much laughter induced choking on beer and beer coming out of peoples noses, it was like i had my oen ricky oh movie going on in my living room. watch it, love it - then watch it drunk with friends and love it even more.dumb but an utter blood drenched delight.

10/10 - for the joy it brought me

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: zarrsadus
Date: 05/27/2002
Summary: Disgustingly Good

What to say... very dumb story but that's not the point of the film, it's about the over-the-top violence. Ricky is in a jail of the future and battles various scum in an "interesting" manner. I watched this with my girlfriend, and while we both laughed at how insane some of the violence was, some of it was a little gross. I mean come on, strangling your opponent with YOUR OWN intestines? :P Yes it does get that crazy and it's funny because of that, but not for the weak of heart ^_^. 6/10.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Inframan
Date: 03/22/2002
Summary: A campy gory classic!

If you are a fan of Peter Jackon or Sam Raimi's zombie-gore films don't miss this one. There is some really outrageous gore and other things that defy explanation. Wait till you see where the warden's assistant keeps his mints!?!

Lots of fun and one of my all time favorites. I like to watch the DVD with the english dubbed track (also has subs and Cantonese track) it adds to the camp quality. And there's plenty of it.

Reviewed by: resisttoexist
Date: 01/10/2002
Summary: Story Of Sweetness

This movie is a great great great great low budget gore fest. It's fun from the begining til the end.

Reviewed by: metamovie
Date: 07/30/2001

Set in the distant future of 2000, when all prisons have been turned into business without things changing for the better (there are no), our young hero is thrown into such one prison but fights against all obstacles and proves that goodness always wins. No, just kidding.

If you are reading this, you probably know what it's really about. Yes, it is outrageously gory (in its way, the comic relief is no less outreageous) - perhaps it won't be quite as surprising to you if you've seen The Seventh Curse or, say, Seeding of a Ghost, but reviewers keep comparing Ricky to Ang Lee. Still, it's charmingly no holds-barred; a bad guy slitting up his chests and pulling out his own intestines to strangle Ricky with (and failing to finish the job, just in case you were wondering) is probably the most popular example of what Story of Ricky is about (apart from "breath-control"), but by no means the only one.


Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 03/24/2001
Summary: Exploding heads!

Ok, so its not a great movie. Its not even a good movie. However, it has someone's head being exploded (by someone's punch), multiple people being thrown into a meat grinder, eyes popping out, and much much more. Plus I think they spent at least 20 dollars on those sets. Good stuff.

Reviewed by: s****
Date: 06/10/2000

Yeah, okay, so it's not the smartest movie ever made. Still, I can't imagine any fan of gory or unique cinema not enjoying this film. Yes, a brain-damaged newborn could comprehend all of Story of Ricky's plot intricacies, and the entire movie appears to have been shot in three different rooms, but the movie is inventive in other ways, such as its fight scenes and absurdly tough protagonist. I have not read the manga this is based on, but I did see the anime adapted from the same source, and greatly prefer this live action version. Pure entertainment.

So far, I believe this film is only legitimately available in the U.S. in a letterboxed but English-dubbed version, which is a damn shame. Supposedly a DVD is coming out soon from the same company, maybe that will have the original soundtrack with subtitles.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Adapted from the Japanese Riki-Oh manga by Tetsuya Saruwatari and TakajoMasuhiko. Some scenes are almost identical to the manga, right down to character designs and camera angles. Unfortunately, none of the manga's complexity and atmosphere is evident here, leaving only an absurd, sensational gore-fest.

[Reviewed by Iain Sinclair]