The 2nd Dimension

Friday, July 06, 2012

Viewing Journal: Riki-Oh - The Story of Ricky

Movie Overview
DVD Info

Overall= A+
Story = D
Video = D
Audio =D

Sentenced to 10 years for killing a mob boss who caused his girlfriend to commit suicide, Ricky Ho is transferred to a corporate-owned prison, where he must use his martial arts skills to battle a corrupt warden and a group of prisoners known as "The Gang of Four." (Source: ANN)
I first heard about the Riki-Oh movie via an episode of AWO in which they discussed the original manga. They talked about how over-the-top the violence in the movie was, specifically mentioning certain scenes that sounded so crazy that I just had to check it out. But that desire remained unfulfilled until someone at work (the same one who had lent me the live action Devilman movie) offered to lone it to me. By the time I returned it, I had an new found appreciation for movies that are are so horrible in content and quality that they come full circle to become mind-blowingly awesome.

Admittedly, when I started watching the movie and saw some of those initial bloody scenes, I was not impressed. Part of that that was because I had already heard about them from other people, so it killed the surprise factor. But I also think that — as nuts as those scenes were — I'd seen crazier stuff in manga and anime. So sure Riki punches a guy through the stomach; so what? Battle Angel Alita probably did that like twenty times.

But oh how naive I was because things only got more and more crazy from there. I think the real turning point was a the fight scene where Riki gets his arm cut and then proceeds to do a certain trick to stop the bleeding, after which his enemy tries to strangle him in glorious fashion. That was when it was clear this was indeed something that I had never seen before. I'm sure if I saw those scenes in the original manga it would have been amazing enough, but seeing them done in live action without so much as a trace of irony made it completely mind blowing. And the end of the movie with the final fight scene that had so many WTF moments you can't not react to it, convinced me that this was a cinematic classic.

And on the subject of comparing the manga and movie, I've always thought that the main difference between anime/manga and live action was the suspension of disbelief factor. Since anime and manga are already artistically stylized, there's already a layer of unreality to it that allows you to get away with showing fantastic stuff like giant robot fighting one another or super powered school girls beating each other up. But since live action is by it's nature showing showing real actors in real settings, the audience is more likely to compare it to reality. As a result the audience is more likely to dismiss things that are not consistent with how they see the world. It's what I would call a low suspension-of-disbelief threshold; and I'd always considered that a weakness of the live-action medium… until Riki-Oh.

In Riki-Oh, everything is so over-the-top and in-your-face with the unreality of it that the "badness" actually makes it incredible. I'm not just talking about the horrible effects, but the actual story itself. So when Riki trips a guy in the bathroom and he gets impaled on spikes on the floor, it's not just that it's obviously a dummy that fell on the spikes; it's the inexplicability of those spike being on bathroom floor at all. There's no reason for them to be there other than because the director wanted to show a guy's head getting impaled. It's the unapologetic way that the director does what he wants while still keeping a strait face, so you're never sure if the ridiculousness is intentional or not, that makes the movie so much fucking fun. So you'll have a scene where the villian tries to kill Riki by having a ceiling slowly descend on him, but instead of escaping through the gaping hold in the wall, he breaks through the steel bars imprisoning him. That's cinematic gold, people!

I'm really trying to (probably unsuccessfully) avoid going into too many specifics because it's best to go into this movie without too many expectations. In fact, if you do see this and like it I'd suggest springing it on a group of unsuspecting friends. After a hour and a half of bodily explosions, I guarantee that you will be better and closer friends for it.

[ For a full list of reviews see the Viewing Journal Archive ]

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