The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

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Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lik Wong aka Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki (1991)

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I decided to wrap up this look at Hong Kong cinema with a bonus post on one of the most notorious films in bad movie circles, Riki-Oh. I first came across it on the old Daily Show with Craig Kilborn, when he used the shot of the guy's head being exploded for his Five Questions segment. Then a buddy found it on this new thing he subscribed to called Netflix, and he burned us all copies on this new thing he had called a DVD burner.

Riki-Oh is about a dude in a prison who punches holes in people and shoves nails through them and strangles them with their own intestines, and sometimes he takes similar abuse back from his fellow inmates. Can he beat the evil warden and prevail?

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Back when the guy getting his head exploded was shown on The Daily Show, I was like "I need to see the movie that was from", but when my buddy rented it and screened it for us, we were all like "okay, we get it, this is ridiculous and over-the top gory. No no, we get it, seriously. Do something else in the frickin' movie!" It was like a bag of Doritos and Mountain Dew. They taste great, but would I eat them for supper? If each great part of this film was by itself in its own movie, it would've been great, but all together, it's just too much. Too many Doritos and a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

And that's where I get a lot of heat for my opinion on this, because people rattle off this or that scene and are like "how can you not like that?", and it's like, I do like it, it just got to be entertainment by repetition after a while. Again, just like Doritos. They taste amazing, and I love empty calories as much as the next guy, but sometimes I just gotta mix in a fast food cheeseburger and fries or a hot dog or something too. I guess if Dolph Lundgren DTV actioners are my fast food, Yasujiro Ozu's films are my healthy meals that balance out my system. It's good to have both.

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I don't really know what to write about for the fifth, sixth, and seventh paragraphs. The scene where a dude gets strangled with his own intestines, maybe? By the time that scene happens, I'm already like "dude, I need more to eat than just Doritos, or I'm going to be sick." In theory, that's just such a great idea, though, strangling a guy with his own intestines, but in and amongst everything else in the film, it loses any charm. It's like watching The Family Man and being bombarded with sentimentality for 100 minutes. When the kid says something cute again, I'm totally desensitized.

I guess I should throw out a couple examples that to me do this kind of over-the-top gore comedy thing really well, so people won't get the erroneous impression that I "just don't get it". Bad Taste, Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh, Blood Diner, Street Trash, and Dead Alive. Yes, these all definitely had the Mountain Dew and Doritos for supper aspect, but what they did in addition was pop through the door with a bag of Wendy's Triple Cheeseburgers and say "hey, you can't just have Doritos and Mountain Dew for supper!" Each of those films I listed had so many different characters, so many other jokes, so many more things going on-- it wasn't just Riki punch through bad guy... Riki shove guy's head into nails... Riki-- you get the idea. Hey, I'm up for an over-the-top cheesetastic played-for-laughs gorefest as much as the next guy-- they were my bread and butter in high school-- but Riki-Oh just didn't quite have it for me.

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I'm struggling for a seventh paragraph... hmmm... did anyone catch that Tottenham/San Jose friendly on Saturday afternoon? I'm an Arsenal guy, so I was hoping San Jose might pull the upset. I have to admit that Gareth Bale looks pretty good, though, huh? He seems like he's just going to pick right up where he left off last season. Even though I'm a Gooner, I have to admit it is cool having them as the fourth EPL team in the Champions League-- though I wouldn't be saying that if Arsenal didn't finish ahead of them!

If you want a different take on Riki-Oh, check out Mr. Kenner's review at Movies in the Attic. It's actually as a thank you to him for all the help he gave during the Hong Kong cinema series that I'm reviewing Riki-Oh myself, so thank you again, it was definitely appreciated as always. If you were so inclined to pick it up, it's unfortunately no longer available on Netflix, but I'm sure you can get it on Amazon or something. Even if I didn't dig it, I can't deny it's a cult classic.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102293/

16 comments:

  1. I'm not gonna go into the film but I think you summed up my reaction to a lot of Troma's movies. For instance I like The first two Toxic Avenger Movie, I love Class Of Nuke Em High and I enjoyed Troma's War. But Surf Nazis Must Die, Toxic Avenger 3-4, Sgt Kabuki Man and Tromeo and Juliet are just too much of a good thing.

    Where I appreciate Story Of Ricky though is that I saw a lot more than just gore. This was a movie that was both a black comedy and masterpiece along the lines of Buenuel. (Spelling, watch one of his movies you'll find a lot of similarities) I guess we split on this, I think that this a great movie, I think perhaps it's worth buying for 9 bucks but definitely no more than such. It's certainly worth a rental for sheer insanity.

    As for your website, you cannot walk away now. Now when we as readers need you. I understand maybe dropping down 3 movies a week (Hell, I wish I could update as frequently as you) but with me finding you Bloodmatch, me offering to send you ROTOR, You then planning on sending me Deadly Prey and so much more to cover you just can't go Sasha Mitchell on us.

    I cannot say how sad I will be if you hang it up. After all Bad Action movie websites are hard to find, hell had it not been for you, I wouldn't even bothered starting over again from scrach. You can't walk away now.

    Not with so many gems...hell you haven't even got to the gems they used to show on USA Up All Night.

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  2. This has been on my 'to watch' list for years now, I don't really know why I haven't gotten there yet. I love the crazy Japanese gore movies of recent years so I will probably dig this.

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  3. I need to pull you back from that ledge Mr. Kenner. Liking this movie is one thing, but saying it's on par with Luis Bunuel's work? Did we see the same The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie? You're comparing the '84 Tigers with a Cape Cod League team. I'll give you a mulligan on the Bunuel thing.

    As far as the site goes, let's give it a week and see where I am, but I will say I'm thinking I've barely got the mental energy to do one post every couple weeks right now, let alone "drop down" to three per. I can still send you Deadly Prey (when I can scrape some cash together to get some blanbk DVDs). ROTOR does sound intriguing...

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  4. I mean in sheer surrealism. For instance Bunuel's overall bizarreness. My favorite example being The Exterminating Angel and L'Age d'Or both feature such wacked out imagery that is just insane. I'm not saying Story Of Ricky are as good but Bunuel and Story Of Ricky have the same eye for surrealness and anything goes imagery. Story Of Ricky uses gore and absurdity over the top assaults on the body where as Bunuel tends to throw in animals, people that just can't get to the next phase or Jesus as a stoned rapist.

    Note how I'm just describing the feel of such rather than story, plot and film.

    I also ompare Class Of Nuke Em High to such, because for me Bunuel is the father of the surreal film.

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  5. No, no feel, no similarities. In L'age D'or he was working with Salvatore Dali. Riki-Oh was working off a Manga or something about a dude who punches through people. Nothing thrown in in Bunuel's films was done at random for the sheer craziness of it, and to be honest, there was no randomness in Riki-Oh either-- it was consistently violent and over-the-top gory throughout. It was like watching a comedy based on fart jokes, with just the level of farting changing as we went on. There's nothing similar between that and L'age D'or.

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  6. I'm gonna have to agree to disagree on this. I don't argue whatsoever that Bunuel didn't use his surrealism to make a point and didn't shoehorn things in just for shock value. For instance he often used such at his disposal to savage religion. My point is, that it just had such a bizarre nature. And Bunuel did throw in things like animals completely out of place and no explanation for why people will not leave the room. Rarely is anything explained and while a lot of it serves a point, he uses such out of nowhere imagery often to puncituate his films. I'm saying that Bunuel's films are the reason Troma films exist as well as a film like Bad Taste and Story Of Ricky is there. I don't know how to explain, for I know what you are getting at with your points, and yet I just can't explain it though it just has such a anything goes anarchy in terms of films.

    Maybe it doesn't represent Bunuel's overall work in general (to be fair i've seen 3 Bunuel flicks) but of what I saw I could see his overall style and the darkly humorous touch to go with the surreal nature is for the most part what such films both do.

    I think Bunuel was more concerned with satire, and key messages (sheep going to the church at the end, and alot of it being a metaphor) so there is more substance obviously, but do deny Bunuel's influence is something I can't help but notice.

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  7. Also my loner computer has keys that stick. So such is a pain to write as my last sentence didn't even make sense.

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  8. This is not an agree to disagree kind of discussion though. Agree to disagree about whether or not Riki-Oh is fun or like having Doritos for supper, totally. Agree to disagree on whether or not this is in the tradition of Buneuel surrealism? That's ridiculous. First off, IF Ricki-Oh was even derivative of Bunuel's work, it totally misses the spirit of everything Bunuel did. Second, calling Riki-Oh "surreal" gives it undeserved credit. It's essentially a comedy about fart jokes, where some fart jokes are great, and some aren't, and it's just a matter of how many fart jokes you can take. Just replace fart jokes with campy over-the-top gore and violence. That's it. There's nothing surreal about any of that. Again, I'm just trying to walk you down off that ledge.

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  9. See the problem is, explaining myself on something like this. In my opinion there is much more than just the gore. For intance the way the warden keeps mints in his glass eyeball, the way one of the bosses is a giant gay man who grows opium, the way the Warden turns into a giant monster at the end, the way the training montage has Ricky punching grave stones. The way Ricky has to survive tribulations such as being buried alive with a bamboo straw. There are a lot of odd touches aside from the gore, and while I can't explain why I see similarities to Bunuel aside from walking out with a WTF feeling, I do know I can argue this that Story Of Ricky is totally surreal. In fact withdrawing my Bunuel comment, I will go on record and say this is a masterpiece of surrealism. The fart joke thing is an interesting way to look at it but while a lot of it is based on gore, there are just lots of novelty touches. Indeed the warden and his son is such a surreal touch (though not a very good one, I hated that little fat kid) Also the way the violence happens is a big factor. Indeed the ending itself basically has Ricky freeing a slew of criminals after a falcon punch. In terms of story coherence and the way the film goes from point A to B, I don't think you can give Ricky any title outside of surrealism.

    But then it's how we define what is surrealism. I happen to include a movie like Bad Taste, Class Of 1999, Class Of Nuke Em High and The Toxic Avenger as films that offer surrealism.

    I think I might've spoke to soon to compare Bunuel cause such is a different style.

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  10. All the examples you give do not a surreal movie make. They just add to the overall sick humor. To go back to the fart joke metaphor, if the guy kept his mints in a fake butt, that wouldn't be surreal either.

    Surrealism means to unlock the creativity of the unconscious mind through a series of unrealted images in a strange way. That's not what Riki-Oh was going for. Again, this isn't agree to disagree, it's a felt misunderstanding of the terms of the discussion on your end.

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  11. I've defined surrealism wrong then. I always thought Knock Off, Cyborg and such counted as surreal also...because of the WTF vibe I always got.

    As for the mints in the fake butt, I don't know about surreal but such should be in a movie because that's funny. Actually it's funnier in a real butt.

    Would Takashi Miike's films count as surrealism? I ask cause Story Of Ricky and Ichi The Killer do have a lot more in common in the way gore is used as a punchline. Though Ichi was a too much for me. I ask cause I hear others always say Miike is a master of surrealism

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  12. I'll be real sad to see you go too, I still can't help but feel bad about making those ignorant statements and overreacting to your comments last month. I still love this site and I really enjoy reading your reviews even if I don't always agree with them,and i'll be truly sad if you disappear as i was really looking forward to sending you some of my films in for you to review(License To Drive being of those films)Anyways this film does sound pretty fun, but I do agree that too much over-the-top gore in a film can desensitize you to the point where it just becomes sort of dull(the ultra-low-budget DTV horror film Terror Toons being a good example of this)But i'll still see if I can get a cheap DVD-R of Riki-oh on Ioffer.

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  13. I haven't seen any of Miike's films, but the best way to look at surrealism is it's an attepmt to recreate a dream-like state. If that's what Miike seems to be doing, then people are right in labeling him as such. If it's just weird stuff that seems like it's crazy or random or both, that doesn't exactly make it surreal.

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  14. DTV:

    My absolute favorite film, if only for the fact that everything in it is so over-the-top and grotesque that it takes on a surreal comedic quality, like "Evil Dead 2", kinda.

    And what's this about closing shop? Gee, I post my first comment and find you're not going to stay in business? Stepping back for awhile is a good idea; I had to do that with my blog a few times. It's good for the soul to do that every so often.

    And by the way, on a different subject, I hope you'll accept this little token of my esteem:

    An AWARD!

    http://thegreatwhitedope.blogspot.com/2010/07/award-for-me-oh-you-shouldnt.html

    Peace out.

    - TGWD

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  15. I just saw Evil Dead 2 in the theater last week. Much more amazing than Riki-Oh.

    Thanks for the award, man, I appreciate it, and we'll see how often I make it back on here in the future.

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  16. I don't want to say this just to be the contrary or out of some demented reason to defend like the way a mother her cub, but I can't agree with that. I think The Story Of Ricky is more enjoyable than the Evil Dead movies. I know that i'm stepping on toes but I always found Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness too much of a good thing. I liked Evil Dead but actually more for the horror element.


    Actually comparing such is apples to oranges, whether you don't care for such or not (Although Matt did say to see Story Of Ricky over Fist Of The North Star, there's faint praise if there ever was...that's how you know you have a bad film when a film you don't care for is used to say "If this is your thing, go all the way with the movie I didn't care for" ) Anyway the best film I can compare Evil Dead with is Return Of The Living Dead which did effortlessly what Evil Dead tried to do. I actually expect flames for this, but I always thought the comedy in Evil Dead was just too forced (yet I liked Story Of Ricky go figure) the hand attacking Bruce Campbell is inspired but goes on far too long, where as Return Of The Living Dead was funny but also suspenseful and action packed. The black humor was far better used and while it's not quite as good as Dawn Of The Dead. I just really never understood how Evil Dead got all the attention while Return Of The Living Dead seems only remembred in horror movie circles. Another thing you have to remember is that the only reason why the Evil Dead movies are enjoyable is because of Bruce Campbell. You take away Bruce Campbell and the movie is just ridiculous. I guess what i'm trying to say The Evil Dead series has too much comedy that is hit and miss, while Return Of The Living Dead just hits the right note. I don't know...for some reason i've always compared Evil Dead series vs Return Of The Living Dead.


    However giving credit where it's due, Evil Dead are decent movies and way (WAY) better than the Return Of The Living Dead sequels which are all dreadful. Yes that includes part 3 that has defenders. 2,3,4 and 5 all are total crap in my humble opinion.

    All the Evil Dead movies are worth seeing but I don't I never got into them as much as I did the Romero Dead movies and Return Of The Living Dead. I think it's sort of like how I really didn't care for Black Dynamite. I hate that form of aggressive comedy...Of course Evil Dead are good movies.

    Okay, I don't hate them, I don't even take the stance that Matt takes with The Story Of Ricky, I acknowledge that they are cult classics, that they are decent movies and worth seeing to the genre fan (especially a Bad Movie fan) but I'm just not into them the way everyone else is.


    I hope i'm not sounding faceitious. For I know taking such a stance on the Evil Dead series while also being a B.movie fan is literally like insulting the cow in India.

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