The Bloodiest Martial Arts Movie Ever Is On Criterion Channel And It Will Explode Your Brain

By Douglas Helm | Published

riki oh

Live-action anime/manga adaptations are the hot new thing thanks to successful projects like Netflix’s One Piece, but if you go way back to 1991, you’ll find an exceedingly gory and underseen manga adaptation called Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. If you’re a fan of over-the-top martial arts mixed with plenty of blood, then this film is definitely worth the watch. And, of all places, you can stream it on The Criterion Channel if you’re interested.

All Prisons Are Privatized


Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is a Hong Kong film based on Masahiko Takajo and Tetsuya Saruwatari’s manga of the same name. The film takes place in 2001 in a world where all prisons are privatized. After killing a crime boss, Ricky Ho is sent to a prison that is divided into the four cardinal directions, with a “Gang of Four” member ruling each wing.

Known For Its Dark Humor

Of course, Ricky Ho ends up having to battle his way through the prison, but, fortunately, he’s comically strong and nearly invincible. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is directed by Lam Nai-Choi and stars Fan Siu-Wong in the titular role, and the film has some of the most memorable and darkly hilarious martial arts scenes put to film.

In fact, the film received a Category III (essentially NC-17 or R) rating in Hong Kong, which made it one of the first movies to receive the rating for non-erotic content.

Reminiscent Of Modern Anime

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky rating made it a bit of a failure at the box office, but it was a success in the home rental space and has since become a cult classic amongst martial arts fans.

Fans of modern anime like Baki and Baki Hanma may also find a lot to like about this film, with a similar set-up and protagonist who is seemingly infinitely strong. Ricky’s strength is barely even explained, with a hand-wavey explanation that he’s a master of superhuman qigong given as the reason.

The slapstick violence in Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky means it certainly won’t be for everyone. For instance, there’s a scene that used so much fake blood that Fan Siu-Wong was unable to wash all of it off for three days straight.

The rest of the scenes are just as violent and gory, albeit often played for laughs, but still, something to consider if you’re a bit squeamish.

Great Fight Scenes

While Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky had a pretty low-budget, that honestly shows in some scenes, the fight scenes won’t leave you wanting. The violence and gore are turned up to 11, but the scenes are well-choreographed and a great showcase for Fan Siu-Wong.

The movie even became popular enough to get an unofficial sequel titled Dint King inside King (aka Story of Ricky 2) that saw Fan Siu-Wong donning the camouflage poncho Ricky wears in the manga.

Stream It Now

Of course, the sequel never quite achieved the same level of cult status as Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, especially since it was never released in the US. Fortunately, the original tells a complete story, so you don’t have to go to too much trouble seeking out the sequel if you don’t want to. If you want to check out Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky for yourself, you can stream it now over on the Criterion Channel.

Source: GenreVision