Even though I myself have used the phrase before – possibly in one of these very reviews – I’ve never really liked the term “guilty pleasure”. Don’t just take my word for it, Dave Grohl is with me on this; if you love something then love it. Love it FOR it’s weirdness and imperfections the way you’d love a person, because it’s those very things that made it stand out to you in the first place and to feel that you have to explain away that enthusiasm cheapens that love.
Even when that love concerns a film where a man has his face shaved off with a wood planet. ESPECIALLY when…
Based on a Manga I’d never heard of and featuring a cast I’d never see again, The Story Of Ricky (aka Ricky Oh) is to martial arts movies what Evil Dead 2 is to cabin hire, in that both are completely gonzo and utterly insane oddities, caked in rubbery gore and cartoon sensibilities; and both are incredible examples of hugely entertaining lunacy.
Ricky, a young man with superhuman strength and unbeatable fighting skills is sent to a maximum security prison to serve time for killing a drug dealer involved in the tragic death of his sweetheart. Wanting to serve his time quietly and peacefully, Ricky quickly finds out that the prison is ludicrously corrupt with the one-eyed, hook-handed, assistant warden dubbed Cyclops (because…. well, manga, I guess) ruling over a facility where outlandish murder and inhumane treatment happens virtually every 40 minutes. Keeping a cartoonish sense of order on the ground is the unoriginally named Gang Of Four who run the four wings with a harsher hand than Cyclops and preside over a massive hidden poppy farm to make opium. Horrified at the sadistic treatment of his fellow inmates, Ricky embarks on a quest as he uses his abilities to heal from virtually any wound and to PUNCH MASSIVE HOLES IN PEOPLE to climb the ladder of debauched maniacs standing between him and the guy at the top; the head warden, who may be the most dangerous foe of all.
When entering into this lesser known example of super violent crap, it is essential ,for maximum enjoyment, to extinguish pesky notions like logic, continuity and any semblance of intelligent story telling, plus alcohol, like-minded friends or a mix of both is also advised to wring maximum enjoyment from this magnificently stupid piece of celluloid.
Ricky’s ace in the hole is undoubtedly it’s staggeringly high and hilariously inventive violence content with intestines and body parts literally flying everywhere with it’s jaw dropping sequences searing themselves into your brain with all the finesse of those inflatable flailing tube men with a branding iron sellotaped to it. Witness with an ever slackening jaw muscles as Ricky has the tendons severed in his arm thanks to the strike from a bowie knife only for our doe-eyed hero to simply tie them back together with a knot, or a man having both his arms shattered by a single blow only then for an uppercut to punch a hole through his jaw so the fist juts out of his mouth.
With just staggeringly wet violence and incredibly nihilistic tone, you’d think that The Story Of Ricky would be virtually unwatchable but thanks to the special effects being as realistic as a balloon animal horse and a script that turns every dramatic moment into unintentional hilarity. Take Ricky’s super-melodramatic reaction to the suicide of a man he’s never actually met as he screams and performs martial arts in Shawshank style torrential rain, or the repeated and ever escalating attempts of the warden to kill Ricky which include such Penelope Pittstop style machinations as a room that fills with cement and a room with a crushy ceiling (both interesting and novel fixtures for a prison to have).
In any sane examination of this motion picture, The Story Of Ricky would usually be written off as hyperactive trash and yet I found it to be a perfect storm of camp stupidity and unfocused enthusiasm that ultimately proves to be immensely funny and utterly unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Sure, Scum, Shawshank Redemption and Orange Is The New Black are all classics in incarcerated drama but do any of them feature a scene where razor blades are forced into a mans mouth only for them to be spat back out into a torturers face with such force that they stick out of his features like chocolate chips in a cookie.
Despite it’s obvious and many flaws in some of the most rudimentary aspects in basic storytelling (maybe the body count wouldn’t be so stratospherically high if the prisoners actually STAYED IN THEIR FUCKING CELLS and weren’t constantly wandering around a superman prison like a 6 year old lost in a supermarket) there’s an argument that The Story Of Ricky is the persecuter to other extreme Asian gore epics like Tokyo Gore Police and Machine Girl.
Regardless, while saying that Ricky and his murder-punching exploits won’t be to everybody’s taste is an understatement so overwhelming I’ve shortened my lifespan by three weeks just by typing it, if you are on this movie’s unique wavelength you are in for a hell of a time.
Less a film than an experience (and a gloriously stupid one at that) The Story Of Ricky is fittingly like a punch to the skull.
You’ll lose some brain cells but it’ll definitely get your attention.