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Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky

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    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky



    Released by: Media Blasters

    Released on: January 10, 2012.

    Director:
    Lam Nai Choi
    Cast:
    Fan Siu-Wang, Frankie Chin, Kuo Chui, Yukari Oshima, Gloria Yip
    Year: 1991

    The Movie:


    Lam Nai Choi's 1991 film for Golden Harvest, Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky, is widely and rightly regarded as one of the nuttiest kung fu films ever made, and for good reason. Based on the manga series by Masahiko Takajo and Surawatari Tetsuya (which also inspired an anime series), the film is set in the future of 2001 where the prison system has been privatized. When the film begins, we meet a martial arts master named Ricky Ho (Fan Siu-Wang) who has been sentenced to ten years behind bars for manslaughter when he killed the man responsible for the suicide of his girlfriend (Gloria Yip). It seems she saw a heroin dealer going down and when taken captive by the thugs, decided she'd rather end it all than let them have their way with her.


    At any rate, it's obvious that Ricky is going to be trouble right from the get-go. When he's brought into the prison, he sets of a metal detector with all of the bullets still lodged in his chest and shortly after that, Ricky messes up one of the cell captains, Samuel, when he trips him in the shower room to make him fall face first onto a board of nails that has been mysteriously left laying around for reasons never explained. As far as the pecking order in the prison is concerned, it's ruled by The Gang Of Four, a quartet of deadly martial artists, who each control a portion of the prison. They answer to the Assistant Warden, a one eyed man who keeps mints in his glass eye and who has a hook in place of his left hand, and he answers to the Warden proper who, along with his fat kid, has just returned from vacation when all of this starts to hit the fan.


    When Ricky finds out that The Gang Of Four are actually part and parcel to a heroin operation that's being run out of the prison, he decides to stand up to them at which point they make it their mission to bring Ricky down before he can unite the prisoners and save the day. Along the way a guy will get his guts punched out, another guy will get his leg punched off, eyes will get smacked out of their sockets, a dude will try to strangle Ricky with his own intestines, heads will be punched off, faces will meet wood shavers, Ricky will tie a wound in his arm using his own tendons, and people will get tossed into meat grinders. On top of that, Ricky will have to survive ceilings that come down in the cell to crush him, a cell that fills up with cement, and the Warden's own super special exploding bullets meant to take out elephants!


    A strange mix of traditional 'stand up to the man' movies like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Cool Hand Luke with a few nods to Chiba's Street Fighter movies (the x-ray of the skull being punched and the shot Ricky hiding above the doorway like a spider being prime examples), this film is one of the few productions of its time to earn the notorious CATIII rating not for sexual content (of which there is none) but for full own gory violence. Completely over the top and not in the least bit concerned with making sense, the film is a relentlessly entertaining gorefest that holds its own alongside stuff like Peter Jackson's Braindead and its ilk. This is a movie where anything goes and everything does, a film that shows no regard whatsoever for realism and which is simply interested in the pure spectacle brought on by its none stop carnage.


    As far as the acting goes, however, Fan Siu-Wang (who has recently popped up in both of Donnie Yen's excellent Ip Man films) could not be any nobler as Ricky than he is here. He's sent to jail for completely justifiable reasons and once he gets there, he's immediately standing up for the little guy. His incredible strength and ability to withstand ridiculous amounts of pain sees him more than willing to take on the toughest that the prison has to offer and you just know that he's going to be handing out rough justice in heavy, gooey doses before it's all over and done with. Lam Nai Choi definitely made weirder films than this one, but for sheer over the top gore and relentless insanity, Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky is pretty damn tough to beat.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Given that this Blu-ray starts off with a Fortune Star logo (and that it has a Fortune Star logo on the back of the packaging) we can probably assume this transfer was taken from Fortune Star's re-master done for the Chinese market back in 2008. The AVC encoded 1080p image presents the film in reasonably decent shape and is definitely an upgrade over previous DVD offerings thanks in no small part to a very high bit rate but this isn't going to blow anyone's mind, not even close. The image is frequently soft and some obvious noise is present throughout as is some minor edge enhancement. Grain (sometimes natural looking and sometimes not so natural looking) and minor print damage are evident, though never particularly obnoxious and there aren't any obvious compression issues to note. Close up shots show the best detail while medium and long distance shots understandably show less but even those close ups aren't all that impressive. This is a fairly low budget movie that probably hasn't been stored in the best of conditions, but at the same time, there's absolutely not doubt that it could have looked better than it does here - you have to wonder if this is an upscale. It would have been nice if Media Blasters had done a new transfer for this title and given its cult appeal, it probably would have helped move a few more units, but that didn't happen. All in all, the image quality here is disappointing even if, yes, it does look better than the DVD versions that have come out over the years.


    Media Blasters have included five lossless audio options here - English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 mixes here don't add much depth and sound surprisingly close to the 2.0 tracks, they're very front heavy and don't make much use of the rear channels at all. The Cantonese tracks also have more punch behind it than the English mixes do, but whichever option you go for you'll probably be pleased for the most part. There are no issues with audible hiss or distortion, the levels are generally balanced right and for the most part things sound pretty clean and pretty clear across the board. The English dubbed track is quite a bit different than the subtitles (which are presented in yellow, making them easy to read, and which contain only a couple of minor typos) that transcribe the Cantonese track.


    As far as the extras on this disc go, the packaging touts a featurette called Riki With a Shotgun as a roundtable discussion of the film with Hobo With a Shotgun filmmakers Jason Eisener, Jason Cotteril, and Karim Hussain, but what it is in actuality is a two minute intro segment to the film with only Eisener on board, offering his opinion on the film. This more or less amounts to him talking about a few plot points he likes while getting punched, and as such, it's amusing but not all that insightful. Of more interest to fans will be the twenty-minute video interview with the film's leading man, Fan Siu-Wang, that originally appeared on the Hong Kong Legends PAL DVD release from a few years ago. It's a good interview with the man offering up some interesting anecdotes about his career in film and about this film in particular. Aside from that, we get two trailers for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Promos for a few other Media Blasters releases play before the main menu loads. The commentary from the aforementioned Hong Kong Legends release has not been ported over, unfortunately.


    The Final Word:


    Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky is as awesome as it ever was, but this Blu-ray release from Media Blasters isn't really anything to write home about. While it does improve on past releases with a marginally better transfer and lossless audio, it just leaves too much room for improvement on the transfer side to wholeheartedly recommend it, even if it is the best version around right now.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!



































    • LoBo
      #1
      LoBo
      Junior Member
      LoBo commented
      Editing a comment
      Hm, i think it looks like it`s upscaled. I won`t waste my money on this.

    • VinceP
      #2
      VinceP
      yabba man
      VinceP commented
      Editing a comment
      I've had this pre-ordered since June of last year. Amazon still hasn't shipped it.

    • Ian Jane
      #3
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      CD Universe has it in stock and is shipping it next day.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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