Today’s feature is one of the most ludicrously violent action movies of all time: Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.
Ricki-Oh is based on a popular manga series of the same name that was developed by illustrator Tetsuya Saruwatari and writer Masahiko Takajo in 1988. Aside from this infamous film adaptation, the series was also turned into an anime OVA in 1989.
Riki-Oh was directed by Ngai Choi Lam, who also provided the screenplay for the movie. He only has a handful of other credits to his name, the most notable of them being the curiously-titled Erotic Ghost Story from 1987.
The cinematographer on Riki-Oh was Hoi-Man Mak, a camera operator who has worked on action films like Four Assassins and Flash Point.
Riki-Oh featured two primary credited editors: Peter Cheung (Enter The Dragon, Rumble In The Bronx, The Chinese Connection) and Chuen Tak Keung (Center Stage, Erotic Ghost Story).
The music for Riki-Oh was provided by Fei Lit Chan, who also composed scores for the martial arts film Dragon Inn and one of Ngai Choi Lam’s previous films, Erotic Ghost Story.
The producers of Riki-Oh included John Sirabella (Tokyo Gore Police, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Megalon) and Lam Chua (Armour of God, Crime Story, Erotic Ghost Story).
The makeup effects for Riki-Oh were done by Fung-Yin Cheng and Chi-Wai Cheung, the latter of whom also provided the special effects work for the movie.
The stunt coordinator for the film was Philip Kwok, an accomplished performer who has worked on films like Hard Boiled and the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies.
The cast for the Riki-Oh included Siu-Wong Fan (Ip Man, Ip Man 2, Kung Fu Killer) in the title role, Ka-Kui Ho (City of Fire, Prison on Fire), and Mei Sheng Fan (The Young Master, Magnificent Butcher).
The plot of Riki-Oh follows a seemingly super-powered martial artist as he navigates his way through prison life, picking fights with both the prisoners’ ruthless gangs and the corrupt administration along the way.
Riki-Oh is best remembered as on of the most ridiculously gory action movies ever made, in an attempt to imitate the original style of the manga source material. However, the effects don’t translate particularly realistically to a live-action scenario. Reportedly, so much fake blood was used in the finale sequence of Riki-Oh that it took days for the red tint to come out of Siu-Wong Fan’s skin.
Due to its over-the-top stylistic violence, Riki-Oh has a dedicated cult following among martial arts and action movie junkies. Currently, it holds an IMDb rating of 7.2, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 89% (critics) and 85% (audience).
To be perfectly honest, I don’t have any strong criticisms about this movie. The logical issues with the plot are hardly worth fretting over in the midst of the bizarre spectacle that unfolds over this movie’s run-time. The only major negative is the Warden’s aggravating man-child, but even that character is forgivable thanks to what the rest of the movie has to offer. This is a film that is best to just experience without any explanation or context, in order to truly appreciate just what it is.
The plot (which is nonsense) doesn’t matter, the background (which is sparse) doesn’t matter, and the characters (who primarily exist to be dismembered and exploded) certainly don’t matter. This film is a meticulous exercise in adapting manga to the live action screen, and it is accurate in that quest in spite of any reason or sense. If you aren’t squeamish, this is an action movie that is more than worth checking out, just to say that you have. Go in expecting blood and nonsense, and you will be gleefully satisfied.