Thursday, November 17, 2022

Riki-Oh The Story of Ricky: Standard Edition – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1991
Director: Ngai Choi Lam
Writers: Tetsuya Saruwatari, Masahiko Takajo, Ngai Choi Lam
Cast: Siu-Wong Fan, Mei Sheng Fan, Ka-Kui Ho, Yukari Ôshima, Kan-Wing Tsang, Kwok-Pong Chan, Kôichi Sugisaki, Frankie Chi-Leung Chan, King Chan, Phillip Chung-Fung, Kwok Tetsurô Tanba, Gloria Yip, Suet Lam

Release Date: January 31st, 2022
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes 17 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Cantonese (Theatrical Mix), DTS-HD Mono Cantonese (Home Video Mix), DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)

"Set in the year 2001, where all correctional facilities have been privatised, martial artist Ricky finds himself victim to the corrupt system when he is found guilty of the manslaughter of an infamous crime boss. Once in jail he must fight for his own survival when he is thrown into a world of enemies vying for his blood." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information given about the transfer, "UNCUT HD restoration in original 1:85:1 aspect ratio".

Riki-Oh The Story of Ricky comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 38.4 GB

Feature: 30.5 GB

The source used for this transfer looks very good, and it is vastly superior to Tokyo Shock’s hideous-looking Blu-ray. Color saturation, image clarity, and black levels are solid; there are no issues with compression, and there does not appear to be any digital noise reduction, which plagued Tokyo Shock’s Blu-ray.

Audio: 4.5/5 (DTS-HD Mono Cantonese Theatrical Mix, DTS-HD Mono Cantonese Home Video Mix, DTS-HD Mono English), 4.25/5 (DTS-HD 5.1 English)

This release comes with four audio mixes, a DTS-HD mono mix in Cantonese labeled "theatrical mix," a DTS-HD mono mix in Cantonese labeled "home video mix," a DTS-HD mono mix in English, and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English. The three monolingual tracks are similar quality-wise. Dialog always comes through clearly; everything sounds balanced and robust when it should. That said, the DTS-HD 5.1 is not as satisfying an experience as its mono counterparts. There are three subtitle options: each Cantonese language track comes with its own English subtitle track, and there are English subtitles for the Cantonese text when watching the English language track.


Extras for this release include reversible cover art, English language trailer (2 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Hong Kong theatrical trailer (4 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor Siu-Wong Fan (36 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Frank Djeng, an audio commentary with Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, an audio commentary with Kim Newman and Sean Hogan and an audio commentary with Audi Sorlie and Chris Ling.


Ngai Choi Lam directed some of the wildest films to emerge from Hong Kong cinema in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Notable films he directed include The Seventh Curse, Her Vengeance, Erotic Ghost Story, and The Cat. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky was adapted from a manga titled Riki-Oh, written by Masahiko Takajo and illustrated by Tetsuya Saruwatari.

From its opening moments, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky establishes a brutal tone in which limbs are severed, organs are removed, heads are crushed by fists, and other grotesque moments of carnage unfold. Needless to say, everything in Riki-Oh! The Story of Ricky is an exaggeration of reality.

Set in the near future, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is a post-apocalyptic tale that is set in a prison run by a sadistic warden, his equally cruel assistant, and guards that frequently brutalize prisoners. The narrative revolves around a character named Riki-Oh, who recently arrived at the prison. Once inside, Riki-Oh is challenged by various prisoners, who quickly learn that he is a formidable foe whose hands are deadly weapons.

As good as the entire cast is, they are all obscured by Siu-Wong Fan’s (Ip Man's) portrayal of Riki-Oh. He delivers a commanding performance that steals every scene he is in. Another performance of note is by Mei Sheng Fan (The Magnificent Butcher), who portrays the assistant warden with a hook for a hand. The scenes between a real-life son and father are easily the most entertaining.

From a production standpoint, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is a film that far exceeds the sum of its parts. The premise is deliriously executed, the narrative does a great job building momentum, and an absurd finale puts a perfect exclamation mark on the events that preceded. Another strength of the narrative is some well-timed flashbacks that fill in Riki-Oh’s backstory. The fight sequences are well-executed, at times inventive, and most importantly, gory. Ultimately, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is one of the best examples of Hong Kong’s Cat III cinema.

Riki-Oh! The Story of Ricky receives its best home video release to date from 88 Films; highly recommended. 

Written by Michael Den Boer

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