Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

13 Oct

… Hmm… How can I even start this review? I have just watched one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing. As you can probably guess by the title, it’s the Hong Kong martial arts cult classic Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Take the gore effects from exploitation horror films of the 1980s, combine that with martial arts action, and top it off with some wonderfully hilarious gallows humor and the end result is Riki-Oh. This will be an easy movie to talk about since it left me with such a strange reaction that made me both laugh and cringe, and while I personally thought this film was a riot, it really only is for a certain type of audience.

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In the early 200s, prisons have become a privatized business, which led to higher levels of corruption and violence in order to keep business booming. Ricky Ho (Fan Siu-wong) is the newest prisoner in one of the most violent prisons in the world. Upon his arrival, Ricky sees how corrupt the jail really is and how it’s actually run by a gang called the Gang of Four, who works in league with the sadistic Assistant Warden Den (Fan Mei-sheng) and the Warden (Ho Ka-kui). The gang and the wardens become determined to kill Ricky when he starts fighting their men and destroying their business, but what they fail to realize is that Ricky has the power of superhuman strength and is nearly invincible. Let the battle begin.

This may be a pretty short review because there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. It simply is what it is and you have to accept it as such. What’s actually surprising is how many really good reviews this movie has gotten. It looks like it’s filmed on the cheap, it’s loaded with over the top gore, and the English dubbing is so bad it’s hilarious. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky succeeds, however, because the movie knows what it is and takes great pleasure in being as over the top and stupid as it can possibly be. In some ways, that’s pretty respectable.

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Let’s get down to it though. What did I think of this movie? It’s not all too surprising that I think it’s a gem of a movie. It made me laugh the entire way through with both its intentional and unintentional humor. Let me just list a few of its most over the top moments. In one scene, Ricky punches the top half of a guy’s head clean off. He just punches it off. In another scene, an opponent of Ricky rips out his own stomach and tries to strangle Ricky with it. Who in the world can think of something like this? Someone with a twisted mind or a really strange sense of humor? Or both?

Everything else in the movie that has nothing to do with its violence or humor is pretty useless. There is almost literally no story, at least not one that I can see. Characters are introduced throughout the whole film but then die in the next scene, which means there isn’t any character development at all. That being said though, that’s not what the movie is about. This film is about showing off some pretty gross special effects and making people laugh. In that regard, it succeeds.

Since it’s release in 1991, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky has gained a fair amount of cult success. It makes sense that a movie like this doesn’t appeal to a wide audience. It’s schlocky, violent, and gory but it’s also a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait to show this movie to more people just to see how they are going to react to something like this. To me, this movie succeeds at what it sets out to do and I had more fun than I probably should have watching it.

The Killer – Review

27 Jan

Here’s a formula to know: John Woo + slow motion + doves + guns = excellence. Woo has over the years become synonymous with Hong Kong action films, and action in general. When talking about his movies, two generally come up when debating over his masterpiece. There’s a group who will say Hard Boiled is his best. The second group will defend The Killer for the number one spot. Which side am I on? Let’s take a look.

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Ah Jong (Chow Yun-Fat) is an expert assassin working for the Chinese Triads. After a hit takes a sour turn and a beautiful lounge singer (Sally Yeh) damages her corneas from the violence, Jong feels responsibility for her. It doesn’t take long for the Triads to realize that Ah Jong has compromised his identity, and soon betray him. Amidst the gunfire and bloodshed stands Detective Li Ying (Danny Lee) who is determined to bring the mysterious assassin to justice all the while becoming more and more intrigued in with his motives.

What can I say about John Woo films? They’re totally awesome, and The Killer proves it. You don’t see action movies like this anymore. This movie doesn’t care how realistic it is nor does it want you to take it too seriously. Hundreds of people fall to the barrage of bullets this movie has to offer, and it couldn’t be more fun. Still, the movie is serious at points and offers some really intense scenes of drama that will leave you thinking long after the movie is over. It’s fun, dramatic, and unpredictable all at the same time.

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It was actually really surprising how The Killer affected me emotionally. I went in expecting a huge shoot ’em up without too much depth, but just enough to get by. That’s what Hard Boiled is like. There definitely is good drama in it, but nothing that matches The Killer. It almost plays like a Shakespearean tragedy with tortured heroes who seem to be spelling out their own downfalls. They all recognize their faults and what they have done wrong in their lives and honorably try to fix them. It adds layers to characters who would otherwise be pretty stereotypical. Of course, the performances also help bring the characters to life, and not just the writing and directing. Chow Yun-Fat is especially great, as always. The only detraction is that some of the writing doesn’t translate very well and definitely comes off as way too melodramatic at points.

But don’t go into this movie thinking it’s just a drama because when the bullets start flying, you’ll remember that you’re watching one of the best action films to ever be made. The guns sound excellent and this was thankfully made in a time when squibs were still the norm and digital blood wasn’t even thought of yet. The body count in this movie is outrageous. The elongated action scenes literally just have henchman after henchman charging at our heroes only to have them be dropped in slow motion with doves flying across the scene just to make sure it’s as cool looking as possible.

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If I were to rank The Killer and Hard Boiled, I’d still  have to put Hard Boiled on top. The Killer is a lot more dramatic, but Hard Boiled‘s action scenes are just out of this world. Don’t get me wrong, the action in this film is also great, but sometimes the pacing just slows down a bit too much. At least when it does slow down we are treated to an excellent storyline where we really want our heroes to pull through. You can also observe how this movie has inspired contemporary film makers like Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and the Wachowskis. The Killer will truly go down as one of the best action films ever made, and is a whole lot better than anything we may have seen recently.