Story of Ricky

And what a story it is. Silly, gory martial arts at it's finest.

Released in 1991, certified UK-18. Reviewed on 22 Jun 2005 by Craig Eastman
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I write this review for you, dear readers, at half one in the morning the aftermath of five bottles of Stella. This, coincidentally enough, is exactly the time and state of sobriety best suited to viewing Story of Ricky; a cult martial arts movie so mind-bendingly insane that if you were sober it'd probably convince you you were inebriated anyway. The plot, such as it matters, sees a young chap named Ricky Oh turfed into the slammer on a conviction of manslaughter. Of course in the future of 2001 (hang on...) the prisons are privately owned hell holes replete with cells featuring crushing facilities and wet concrete pumping mechanisms. It's probably best if you don't ask why...

In the absence of the holidaying warden, the prison is being overseen by the evil Assistant who is, naturally, a cycloptic madman who uses his false eye to store breath mints. As well as the Assistant Warden each individual wing of the prison is run by one of the Gang of Four; a group of superhuman inmates whose strength keeps the prisoners in line while the management run an opium-producing racket. Leader of the North wing is Oscar, the only vaguely sensible looking member. East wing is run by Tarzan, whose dress sense says "biker" in The Village People mode, and West wing is handled by the supremely camp Rogan. South wing is lorded over by some dude called Dragon, I think, but I can't quite make it out due to a combination of fuzzy dub and beer. Given that these names are different in both the subtitles and the original Cantonese it doesn't really matter much.

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Story of Ricky has a bit of a reputation for OTT gore and brutality, and with only just over ninety minutes to squeeze it in it doesn't take long for things to kick off. It's difficult to convey the tone of this movie, but if you imagine The Shawshank Redemption spliced with Bad Taste you probably won't be far off. Within minutes sadistic inmates have shaved off part of some poor bloke's face and stabbed him for having the temerity to make a toy for his son. Harsh but fair. Things soon escalate further as Ricky decides to take down the Gang of Four, the Warden and his Assistant and make a break for freedom. This might sound like a pipe dream were it not for Ricky's uncle who has tutored him in the ancient art of Chi-Gung.

The basic gist of this Chi-Gung business is that anger and pain make it even more powerful, the highly artistic upshot of which is that Ricky can, and frequently does, punch clean through people. Sweeeet. Given that he equally as frequently punches through walls, crashes through steel doors and shatters cell bars I'm not entirely sure what's stopping him from walking out the front door to freedom, but that's by-the-by. Opium sub-plot aside, the whole thing's an excuse to showcase a number of inventive make-up effects, such as tying off severed arteries to stem the bleeding and knocking people's eyes out of their sockets, all wrapped around a number of increasingly ludicrous set pieces. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but one eventually has to wonder why bother with the plot at all? It's getting in the way of the carnage for crying out loud!

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Story of Ricky is one of those movies that eschews the general rule and benefits massively from it's unintentionally hillarious dub. Complementing the ludicrous action perfectly, you'll spend as much time laughing at the grossly inept vocal inflections as you will the buckets of claret being slopped out. It's hard not to chuckle when lines like "Rogan's kung fu is unorthodox!" are delivered with a sincere gusto that makes you wonder if the voice artists were actually watching the movie as they recorded. The nett effect is that it's hard to take offence at the Itchy & Scratchy violence when everything points to the film having been made by a bunch of hyperactive twelve year-olds.

I'm sure you don't really need me to tell you wether or not Ricky succeeds in overthrowing the oppressive prison management and becomes champion of the inmates, but I'm willing to guess you won't see the somewhat left-field ending coming from far off. In summation, Story of Ricky is stupid, ludicrous, shabbily produced, horrendously dubbed and so overblown it should by rights float away like a helium balloon. Another way to say it might be that it's absolutely the best post-pub movie you'll ever see. There are few martial arts movies where a mortally wounded combatant will pull out his own intestines and use them to try and strangle his opponent. Story of Ricky is one of them. I highly recommend you keep it unreal.

I have no option but to award this movie 4 out of 5 Units We Use

Ngai Kai Lam
Cast list:
Siu-Wong Fan (Ricky)
Mui Sang Fan (Assistant Warden)
Ka-Kui Ho (Warden)