life, you come across something… unusual. Something that leaves you happy,
but confused. Something that you desperately need to share with other
people, because you just can't put into words exactly what it is. A moment
like that came for me when my brother rented The Story of Ricky.
Does the name sound a little familiar? Fans of the Daily Show might
remember the Five Questions bit, where Craig Kilborn would ask his guest
questions. Five of ‘em. Anyway, the opening graphic to that bit featured a
man smashing another man's head with his bare hands. That brief bit of
video is from this very movie, and I assure you, there is much more
hilarious, over-the-top gore in the rest of the film. So, without further
you can tell it's going to be a classy movie by the music. Nothing says
"big budget picture" like the noodlings of a first year piano student on a
synthesizer. It's kind of a warm up for what you'll be seeing in a few
minutes. For starters, here's some background info presented in
easy-to-digest paragraph form:
attention to that last line: "Prisons, like car-parks, have become
franchised business…" Now, I've never been to China, except to visit the
sweatshop where they make the I-Mockery T-shirts, but how the hell could
anyone make a franchise out of parking. Do parents, going for a night on
the town, say to each other, "should we park over here at ‘Parky's", or
over there at ‘TGTP' (Thank God There's Parking)?" Don't think about it
too hard. There's a lot more nonsensical crap coming up.
prisoners are brought in, and their names and convictions are read off by
the narrator. You get your first taste of the glory of early English
dubbing here, too, as the officers angrily shout their every line (I'm
almost certain, looking back, that every character in the movie is voiced
by one of only two men). Anyway, there's our man Ricky Ho, the girly
fellow in the tan jacket. He's in ten years for manslaughter and assault.
Assault on who? Oh, you'll find out, my little chickadee.
narrator reads off his criminal charges, Ricky ignores the guard's order
to wait and proceeds through the metal detector. It goes off, and two of
the guards try to bring him down with their batons. Well, the one on the
right tries. He leaps over the counter, rushes towards Ricky, and takes a
big swing at him. The guy on the left gives a short, unenthusiastic swing.
I guess he knew Ricky was going to stop it, and figured, "eh, why work for
him out with a handheld detector, and even though he's wearing a metal
belt buckle, the detector doesn't go off until it reaches his chest. A
quick visit to the futuristic X-ray/ATM on the wall reveals that Ricky has
five bullets lodged in his chest. Why? Let's listen in:
Officer: "Why didn't you let the doctors take the five bullets out of
Oh, you're a tough guy, Ricky. Real tough. Kinda cute, too, but mostly
tough. With that little episode behind them, the prisoners are moved to
their cells, and the narrator tells them the rules of the prison:
"The warden is the most powerful in the prison. After him, it's the
… Yes, that is how prisons generally work. Warden, then assistant warden,
and so on down the line. I didn't mean to interrupt, though, please
"The cells are divided into four wings: east, west, north, and south. Each
wing is controlled by a leader. They're also known as the gang of four.
None of you are worthy enough to see the warden or the assistant warden
yet. Just make sure you know the rules and your place here."
That last line bothered me because initially, I didn't realize he was
addressing the prisoners, and I thought he was just insulting the
audience. Sure, it seemed like an odd thing to do, but then again, so does
saying that parking lots are a big business. Anyway, that concludes the
On to the morning preparations in the bathroom. The captain of the cells
is having a bit of a disagreement with an older, dorky prisoner regarding
a washcloth, but they decide to settle it like gentlemen.
kidding. The captain has his goons hurl the poor bastard into a window.
And boy, do they take pride in their work. As it turns out, the old man is
scheduled to be out on probation soon, and the captain is upset that he
wasn't consulted on the matter. After collapsing from the window-induced
trauma, the old man drops a little wooden train, a toy he made for his
about the old man wanting his washcloth back, the captain smashes the toy
train on the man's head. And that's the last straw. You can only push a
man so far, stealing his towel and throwing him into a window like that,
but smashing his train sets the old man off.
a block of wood with handlebars and a big razor sticking out of it and
rushes the captain. Unfortunately, he announces his intentions well
beforehand, and the bald thug trips him. The captain, apparently familiar
with the use of such strange weapons as this, steals the tool and puts it
to good use.
camera doesn't show exactly how he does this, but regardless, he takes a
big strip off of the old man's face. A guard shows up to check on the
screams of agony, but the captain, being pals with the guards, tells him
that the old man just "fell into a knife." A knife? Is that what they call
that thing? Man, China is a weird place.
Anyway, the captain is walking tall after his victory over the nerdy
fellow. That is until…
trips him, and he falls face first onto a conveniently placed board with
nails in it.
confronts Ricky, and Ricky gives him the least intimidating, "you talkin'
to me?" that I've ever heard. Still, the thug gets scared and backs down.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he's just scared that ol' Ricky will
make him trip and fall onto something even worse, like another of those
"knives". Instead, he and the other thug haul the captain off to get
treatment for his eyeful of nails.
The plot thickens, as later on in his cell, the captain and his cronies
devise a way to get back at Ricky. One of them suggests that they bring in
"Zorro". The other adds that Zorro "was so hungry he ate a whole horse
yesterday." What an odd sentiment, not just for the Mexican champion of
justice, but for anyone you're thinking of recruiting as a hatchet man. I
guess he just has a healthy appetite… FOR DESTRUCTION!!!
So, the captain sets it up with the guards that Zorro will be let out to
fight Ricky the next day. For those of you who haven't figured it out
already, he isn't exactly "Antonio Banderas as Zorro". In fact, here's a
picture of horse-eating Zorro:
Oh yeah. Z is for Zorro,
day, the old man who had a run-in with the captain receives word that his
probation has been declined for sending a letter home "behind our backs."
Sure, the old man is painfully aware that the captain had his probation
turned down, but to come up with such a lame excuse… That's just
cold-blooded, bro. The old man doesn't take the news well.
well. Still, I suppose it was polite of the guards to let him out of his
cell long enough to gather some rope, tie it off, and hang himself while
everyone has to sit in their cells like regular prisoners. Yeah, they
aren't such bad guys after all. Ricky takes it hard, though. Really hard,
considering that he only knew the guy for about two minutes. He leaves his
cell, somehow, and sees the old man off as he's hauled away on a
breaking the handcuffs off of his dead buddy (God knows why they were on
in the first place), Ricky produces a toy train from his jumpsuit and lays
it on the old man's chest. Then, he throws a big tantrum, screaming,
jumping up and down, and flailing his arms. A goofy end to what was
probably meant to be a solemn, depressing scene. Secondary characters
aside, it's time now for the fight between Ricky and the alleged "Zorro".
taking a shower when Baby Huey sneaks up and gets him with a sucker punch.
He lands next to another guy taking a shower who quickly runs off, perhaps
wondering why Ricky is taking a shower with his shorts on.
strikes a bodybuilder's pose before introducing himself to Ricky, a pose
that fails not just because he's a lardass, but also because there's a
significant amount of drool rolling down his chest. He remarks that
someone gave him thirty pounds of rice to "finish you off, and turn you
into mincemeat, and put you in a pie." Then, the fight really begins.
Fifteen seconds later, the fight is over. Here's why:
really happened, you ask? This. This is what happened.
delicious. That is pretty much the end of Zorro. The captain, however, is
not easily discouraged. Thinking that he can do better, he produces a
large nail, puts it between his middle and ring fingers, and rushes Ricky.
It was a
very well thought out plan, but unfortunately, Ricky is able to accept the
spike-in-the-hand, and he's still able to break the captain's fingers. Oh
well, better luck next time, captain.
Ricky pulls the aforementioned nail out of his hand. It's an intimidating
move, or at least it would have been, had it not been for the "squeak"
that accompanies the nail's removal. Finally, the guards show up to break
up the fight, but Ricky has other plans…
wave bye-bye to another bit player. With the fight having resolved itself,
the guards move in to take Ricky back to his cell. Ricky decides to play
by the rules and, despite the fact that he can knock the cherry cobbler
out of his enemies, allows the guards to escort him out of the shower
leave, however, Ricky gets a visit from the head of the North Cell. A man
named Oscar. Oscar… Anyways, he only stops by long enough to tell Ricky
that he'll be getting more punishment once he's punished by the Assistant
Warden. And that's all you get in the way of foreshadowing, folks, so deal
Once he gets back to his cell, Ricky sits down and starts meditating. It's
very intense meditation, and once he gets into it, he flashes back to when
he was a yuppie teenager.
visiting his father's grave, Yuppie Ricky encounters his uncle. Said uncle
knew that Ricky started showing signs of superhuman strength since he was
"seven and eight years old," and asks Ricky to show him how strong he is.
Ricky obliges, and goes into a martial arts routine, complete with air
punches, jump kicks, and backflips. No actual blows, though, just his
little dance. At the end of his display of "strength," Ricky rushes his
uncle, only to be effortlessly bitch slapped away.
insult to injury, Ricky's uncle calls him clumsy, and then starts laughing
at him. Ricky realizes that the reason he was smacked like a punk as
because his uncle knows Chi Kun, and he begs him to teach him the martial
points for trying, Ricky. The uncle, amused at the sight of his nephew
talking to his crotch, starts to laugh again, thus signaling the beginning
of the training. The main focus of the training: Breaking headstones. And
uncle's got a hell of a lineup.
After letting Ricky polish off a standing headstone, the uncle starts
hurling them at Ricky, and Ricky breaks them all, some with punches, some
with kicks, and others he breaks simply by letting them hit him and break
apart. Once his uncle exhausts his supply of headstones, he starts to
laugh, thus signifying the end of the training. Man, that guy loves to
The next day, the guards make good on their promise to take Ricky to see
the Assistant Warden.