Thursday, January 15, 2009

Basement Cinema - Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

It's Thursday night and the stars have aligned properly, which means it is time for Basement Cinema, a hyper-elite, micro-scale, (literally) underground film screening. Originally started in the basement of UW-Milwaukee's Mitchell Hall, "famous" as the stomping grounds of Mark Borchardt in American Movie, Basement Cinema has since died an ignoble death, then risen from its grave to spread across the mighty Mississippi. Previous screenings that I've attended have included Jack Frost (not staring Michael Keaton), The Stuff, highlights of Turkish cinema, The Found Footage Festival, Deadbeat at Dawn, Blood Freak, and an entire evening of tool themed slashers.

Tonight's film was Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, the completely unhinged, kung-fu gore masterpiece that you most likely know of as the movie with the sweet head crushing scene that they constantly showed on the Craig Kilborn era Daily Show. It takes place in the distant, dystopian future: the year 2001 AD, where title cards inform us that corporations run everything as businesses, including prisons. (Jennifer Government this ain't, as the corporatist premise is basically never mentioned again.) Riki-Oh is a new arrival to the high-tech ultra prison, having been convicted of manslaughter for taking revenge on the man responsible for his girlfriend's death. For most people, this would mean a lifetime of dropping the soap and/or a brutal death, but Riki-Oh is not most people. Flashbacks inform us that, thanks to a weird sensei who liked to hang out at the local cemetary, he is extremely good at kung-fu. Gravestone smashingly good, even.

Here is some easy math for you: Corrupt Ultra Prison + guy who can focus his qi until the laws of leverage no long apply to his strength = totally sweet.

Sure, there is some "plot" nonsense about Riki's sympathy for his downtrodden fellow prisoners, poppy cultivation on the prison grounds, and the warden's fat, man-child son, but that really doesn't matter in the face of a hero who can block a punch by counter-punching his attacker's fist so hard that the entire forearm splits open like a ripe banana; plus villains who will commit seppuku in order to strangle you with their own intestines.

Enter the Dragon by way of Dead Alive, and It. Is. Glorious. I lost count of how many times Riki punches completely through someone. Limbs are removed, eyballs are knocked out, skulls are crushed, and gimmicky "mini-bosses" are dispatched with intestinal flair, all in anticipation of Riki's final confrontation with the evil warden, who looks like a Chinese Hunter S. Thompson and can mutate himself into an eight foot tall monstrosity at will. Their climactic battle takes place in the kitchen next to a giant meat grinder, and, needless to say, someone (actually several people) gets grinded ground.

So go out and rent a copy of Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki, consume a large amount of psychotropic substances, and (for an extra layer of madness) leave the awful English dubbing on. Most likely you will melt like a Nazi opening the ark of the covenant.

1 comment:

  1. No Matter how many time I watch this movie, it never stops being totally rad. Its hard to complain about a thin plot when its just a vehicle for punching through a torso.