Set in the alternative futuristic prison of 2001 AD, a young man by the name of Riki-Oh has been sentenced for manslaughter and assault. The prison, which is run by a sadistic Warden and his cohorts, systematically torture him. Riki is left with no option but to fight the system.
Riki–Oh: The Story of Riki is a 1991 Hong Kong martial arts gorefest, written and directed by Lam Ngai-choi. The film, which is based on the Japanese manga ‘Riki-Oh’ was banned in most countries. Renowned for being the most faithful, live-action adaptation of manga source material to date. It is ultra violent and displays the most extreme violence ever to be recorded on film. But lucky us, it has now been released for our viewing pleasure!
Riki played by Fan Siu-wong (Ip Man) fights his way through the corrupted and sadistic in the most inventive, craziest kills scenes ever. But not only does he have to deal with the Warden but he also has to sort out ‘The Gang of Four’. These crazed killers control the four corners of the prison and they equally put poor old Riki through his paces. However, Riki, who is in fine form, is not only a Master of Martial Arts but he has also been blessed with super human strength. Thus making him virtually indestructible. This one time, his arm gets severely cut with a knife rendering it useless. So what does our hero do? He pulls out the tendons, ties a neat little knot and then carries on fighting.
The film Riki-Oh has an endless supply of blood splatters, disembowelment, skull crushing, mince-meating, flaying and more. But don’t be fooled in thinking that sensitive stomachs could not handle the good stuff. Riki-Oh is very much theatrical in its approach. It is so camp and over the top that it diminishes any Schadenfreude feeling. There are some very obvious bad practical effects but that only added to my enjoyment. That said, I am watching this film for the first time, which is some 24 years after its initial release. So I can totally get why it caused so much controversy and was the most shocking film to be released from China. I did not personally find it shocking or difficult to watch, it was just a pure rush of total enjoyment.
From my own experience, I have found that Asian Cinema has a definite flair for the dramatic, surreal and the use of the most imaginative story telling techniques around. Examples of which can be found in Tokyo Gore Police, Old Boy, Ichi the Killer, Meat Grinder, Seven Samurai, Killers and many more. Riki-Oh is one that will not disappoint and it should be added to the collection. This film is a must if you are a fan of one or more of the following: Asian Cinema, martial arts, inventiveness, blood and gore.
Words by Amanda Hunt @man_ders11