'Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki' Reivew: Over-the-Top Gore: Chinese Style
Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki is hilariously over the top. Just look at the picture above, that decapitated head is not a mutant but the head of a man. That man was fed into a meat grinder feet first by Riki-Oh after he puffed up like a bull frog. It isn't surprising that Riki-Oh is based off a manga since the movie seems more like a live action comic book. It's stylized and bloody and feels like a throwback to the grindhouse films of the late 70s.
The best part of Riki-Oh is the action since the plot is quite hard to follow due to the great dubbing. The dubbing is stereotypically bad, the kind that was parodied in Kung Pow!, with not only the mouths not syncing up but the voice-over actors also hamming it up. Their delivery of the lines is laughable more often than not but it just adds to the humor of the film.
The action, dubbing tangent aside, is on par with Evil Dead and Dead Alive in the levels of gore and graphic violence displayed. Riki-Oh has been been imbued with super strength which allows him to do things to people normal human beings shouldn't. In one fight scene he hits a character on the back of the head so hard his eyeball pops out which then is eaten by crows. Another scene has Riki uppercutting a villain in his jaw resulting in his fist going up through the jaw of the character and ripping it out. It's truly a sight to behold but adds to the comic book feel of the film. The action is the reason the film has become so popular as a cult classic since it is cartoonish and hilarious at the same time.
Along with the action, the characters provide much of the film's humor and over-the-top nature. The villains in the film are cartoon characters made living with many of them having attributes that would be more suited for a character from a Saturday morning special. The assistant warden is a fat Mao Zedong lookalike except with a hook hand and a false eye with a penchant for food and VHS pornography. He is hilarious and the hilarity is multiplied ten fold when he takes his false eye out to get mints he stores inside them, often spilling them all over the floor. Along with the assistant warden, there are four main "bosses" of the prison who serve as the mini bosses that Riki-Oh must kill before he can get to the assistant warden and head warden. They're over the top and hilarious, each being cartoonish and laughable in their own unique way and not really imposing to Riki-Oh.
The final warden is however the best villain in the film, even though he is in the film for only the last fifteen minutes. He looks like a normal human being until he has to face Riki-Oh one on one when he then puffs up like a bullfrog in a scene straight out of Big Trouble in Little China. The scene deserves to be watched not described due to the sheer hilarity and gore involved in the scene.
Watch Riki-Oh, but only do so if you can find it dubbed not subtitled since it adds to the overall humor of the film. It is lives in the pantheon of splatterfest films and should be right near the top since it doesn't veer into horror to justify the gore. It's a kung-fu splatterfest that is hilarious and over the top. Watch this film if you're looking for a good laugh but also some quality fight scenes.
Final Say: Watch It