The Story of Ricky (Lak Wong): Special Collectors Edition (1991)

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Released 19-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Jude Poyer (Hong Kong Stuntman) And Miles Wood (Film Critic)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Rising Star
Featurette-Martial Hero
Trailer-Trailers-Further Attractions-Police Story, Fist of Fury
Trailer-Trailers-Armour of God, Iron Monkey
Trailer-Trailers-Once Upon a Time in China
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 87:44
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ngai Kai Lam
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Siu-Wong Fan
Bin Shimada
Mui Sang Fan
Ka-Kui Ho
Yukari ‘shima
Tetsuro Tamba
Gloria Yip
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Fei Lit Chan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† The year is 2001, ten years in the future, when prisons have been taken over by private enterprise (sound familiar?). Ricky Ho (Fan Siu Wong) has been sent to gaol for killing a drug dealer who caused the death of his girlfriend (Gloria Yip, seen only in flashback). Run by a corrupt warden who has members of the prison population doing his dirty work for him, the prison is not a very nice place. And there's a crop of opium poppies growing in the West Wing.

††† Ricky comes up against several bad-guy types, including the deputy warden (Fan Miu Sang). This warden has a glass eye which he keeps stocked with breath mints, a hook instead of his left hand which makes a useful weapon, and a whole bunch of Japanese porno videos in his office. In order to stop the harassment and save prisoners from being exploited and murdered, Ricky is forced to go up against the Gang of Four - a bunch of very intense inmates with various martial arts abilities - and finally the warden himself in a one-to-one battle. As shown in this flick, the warden has a very strange and not entirely convincing martial arts ability.

††† This film features a variety of Chinese and Japanese actors and is based on a manga called Riki-Oh. Fan Siu Wong looks a lot like the Ricky in the original, and the violence is straight out of those irresponsible drawings. I had not seen this film before, and in fact from its description as an "action comedy", I had expected something like Pedicab Driver or a Jackie Chan rip-off. Not so. There is a lot of sudden and highly confronting violence, so over the top and unrealistic as to be laughable at times, though many viewers will not appreciate the gore.

††† The cast features a few familiar faces. Fan Miu Sang, the father of Fan Siu Wong, crops up in countless kung fu sagas of the 1970s and 1980s: The Young Master for example, which is being released on DVD by Hong Kong Legends at the same time as Story of Ricky. Yukari Oshima is one of the Gang of Four, playing a male character named Huang; Frankie Chin is a big guy with a tattoo and intestinal fortitude, and a few others whose names I do not know make appearances. I was surprised to see veteran samurai and yakuza genre star Tetsuro Tamba appear as Ricky's Uncle Ghost in some flashback sequences where Ricky learns the correct way to demolish a graveyard.

††† This would be a run-of-the-mill prison actioner from Hong Kong if it wasn't for the extreme violence. Instead what we have is a far-fetched cult classic that will appeal to people who enjoy seeing heads literally punched off, intestines and sundry internal organs splattered with a single blow, and people chopped up into mincemeat.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, not too far from the original 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. Although the film is not significantly cropped, there are quite a few instances where the tops of heads are cut off (not special effects this time), and sometimes the framing seems cramped. Perhaps the original was tightly composed, or maybe this transfer is more cropped than it would seem.

††† The transfer is reasonably sharp with a good level of detail visible. Contrast and brightness are very good, with no real problems with shadow detail. Colour is also good, so you can see all that blood and gore in its original glory.

††† There are problems with the film's transfer to digital format, the worst of which is motion blurring. There is a loss of detail when characters move, especially affecting faces and hair. There is also some minor edge enhancement at times, but nothing serious. Some low level noise is visible.

††† As far as film artefacts go, the print material used is exemplary, and I did not notice any problems.

††† Optional English subtitles are provided in a good-sized white font. The subtitles are well-timed and all of the dialogue seems to be translated.

††† This is an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change occuring mid-scene at 65:57, not ideally placed but not very disruptive either.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† The default audio track is Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative English track.

††† The audio is quite good with only one significant problem. Dialogue is clear and generally the audio track is clean and free of distortion. Audio sync is pretty good considering the film was entirely dubbed. The surround mix is mainly centred on the front speakers, with some effects directed to the rear channels, but not at a high level. The problem is with the low frequency effects channel. During the scenes inside the prison, there is a low rumble all of the time. I assume this was meant to be air-conditioning or some other mechanical sound heard within the complex. The transfer has this material at too high a level on the low frequency channel, making the subwoofer emit a loud, constant rumble. At first I thought it was a car without a muffler idling outside my home, but no, it was from the DVD.

††† The music sounds a bit like something out of an 1970s Italian horror film at times, with a lot of dramatic chords, quivering strings and percussive piano.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

††† A brief animated Hong Kong Legends logo with pictures of the star.

Menu Animation & Audio

††† The menu has scenes from the film with some generic electronic music that has no relation to the film. The menu is a little annoying in terms of the labels used for the various options. Opium Den means Chapter Selection, East Wing has the audio selections, Graveyard has the extras and West Wing the trailers.

Audio Commentary-Jude Poyer (Hong Kong Stuntman) And Miles Wood (Film Critic)

††† The audio commentary between these two is quite good, though like most people they don't take the film seriously. Between them they know quite a lot about the movie and the performers, and there are only a couple of dead spots.

Theatrical Trailers (5:57)

††† This trailer is of interest because it includes some shots from the manga, so you can see how similar the film is. There is also a trailer for the Hong Kong Legends edition.

Featurette-Rising Star (36:05)

††† An interview with Fan Siu Wong in which he talks about his career and experiences while working on the film. In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Featurette-Martial Hero (2:40)

††† A short demonstration of Fan Siu Wong's martial arts skills.

Trailers-Further Attractions-Police Story, Fist of Fury, Armour of God, Iron Monkey, Once Upon a Time in China (9:14)

††† Trailers and DVD notes for other releases from Hong Kong Legends.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† This release appears to be identical to the UK Region 2 release from Hong Kong Legends.

††† The US Region 1 release, as far as I can tell, is in the original aspect ratio but is not 16x9 enhanced. It contains several trailers and cast and crew biographies as extras. The video quality is reported to be good, and there is a soundtrack in Mandarin as well as English and Cantonese. The subtitling is in yellow.

††† The Hong Kong All Regions disc is also not 16x9 enhanced, and contains a couple of trailers.

††† All in all, the new Hong Kong Legends disc seems to be as good if not better than the alternatives.

Summary

††† A gory and violent film, not for all tastes, but people who like this sort of thing will love this movie.

††† The video quality is good despite some motion artefacts.

††† The audio quality is good, but keep the subwoofer switched off.

††† Some interesting extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Anyone know if it's uncut - Anonymous REPLY POSTED