The Story of Ricky (1991)

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Ricky (Siu-Wong Fan) is sent to a maximum security prison after he kills the people who murdered his girlfriend. The prison he is sent to is run by a ruthless assistant warden who also has a gang of four ruthless assassins working for him. As the gang of four terrorise and kill the inmates, Ricky decides to stand up and fight.

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Ricky begins to challenge each of the gang and any other prisoners who stand in his way, cutting a bloody trail of carnage through the prison. Soon the prison warden comes to the prison to check what’s going on, determined to put an end to Ricky once and for all.

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Based on a Manga of the same name, The Story of Ricky is deliriously violent. It is chock full of guts being ripped out, brains being splattered and skin being flailed. There is so much about this movie that is laughably bad, yet I still love it. Firstly the acting is really bad, almost Troma bad. Yet some of the effects are quite well done for a movie that is 23yrs old. However, some of the effects, like the death of Ricky’s girlfriend, are hilariously bad. There are some decent fight scenes, but not something I’d call out and out martial arts.

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That being said, if you’re a fan of ultra violence, gore and splatter then it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll like this film warts and all. Live action Manga rarely fares well, with the manic intensity of the animated version rarely matched in the live action version. I would say that it is well worth a watch. I think the fact that it plays it so straight doesn’t do it any favours. It would be much better if it was played a little more tongue in cheek. Like I said though, still worth a watch.

3/5

JM

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Fist of the North Star (1995)

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Some films are so endearingly shit, that it’s hard to completely hate them. The live action version of Fist of the North Star falls into this niche category. Directed by Tony Randel (Hellraiser II), it’s a mish mash of good intentions and poor execution. I’m sure many geeks know the story, but just to refresh your memories i’ll glaze over it again. Kenshiro (Gary Daniels)  wanders the earth righting wrongs and defending the innocent. Gangs of raiders stalk desolate towns preying on the weak. Ruling this wasteland is Lord Shin (Costas Mandylor) who governs with an iron fist, living in his palace away from the harshness of the wasteland.

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There are lots of things wrong with this film. First off is the total miscasting of Gary Daniels as Kenshiro, Costas Mandylor as Lord Shin, and someone I haven’t mentioned yet…Chris Penn as Jagi, renamed Jackal for some bizarre reason. The choreography is just not up to scratch at all. Any intensity that is evident in the Manga version is completely lost here. Never is this more apparent that when Kenshiro tackles some bandits and does his Hokuto Shinken multiple punch. In the Manga version he obliterates his opponents, here however it’s quite different. Gary Daniels tries his best but the end result is laughable. The bandit laughs and asks a question I think we’re all thinking, “Are you trying to tickle me to death?”.

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Okay I understand that Tony Randel does what he can with the obviously small budget, but it needn’t be so glaringly obvious. Majority of the wasteland scenes look like they have been filmed on a soundstage. The costume design is good however, capturing the apocalypse look well. It’s mainly the cast and dire script that let it down. Even the supporting cast like Malcolm McDowell can’t save it from being just pretty meh. Other supporting cast members like Clint Howard, Dante Basco and Tracey Walter just go to show that the budget wasn’t the biggest.

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The make-up effects are brilliantly cheesy however. Particularly when Jackal removes the strapping that keeps his brain from bulging out. The whole movie is probably best viewed with mates after a night at the pub. Pick up a pizza on the way home, stick this on and just have a laugh. It’s pretty much that sort of movie.

2/5

JM

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Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)

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I really love this movie. This slots nicely into my guilty pleasure file, something you may see on TV at night, that you may not normally give a second glance to. That’s why I’m here, to put these movies on your radar and show you movies you may have missed.

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It begins with Sean Barker (played by David Hayter of Metal Gear Solid Fame) who has been living with an alien armour inside his body called the Guyver unit. The Guyver unit can completely cover Sean’s body with armour which he uses to fight evil. However someone else wants the Guyver unit. A corporation called Kronos want the unit for themselves. Kronos are a group of aliens called Zoanoids, masquerading as human, who attack the innocent. Sean finds out about an archaeological dig in the mountains that has uncovered a cave full of symbols similar to the ones he has been dreaming about. He heads to the dig site for answers, not realising that Kronos are also aware of the site.

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I should mention that technically this is the second live action Guyver movie, based on the popular Manga series. The first movie is called Mutronics here in the UK and The Guyver in the US I believe. Now the reason I dove straight into this movie rather than review the first one, and then this one is actually for a few reasons. To begin with, it’s the better of the two movies. The choreography in Mutronics is a lot slower than what we have in this movie. The acting from Mark Hamill who stars, isn’t the greatest.  The director, Steve Wang, definitely made a much better movie second time out.

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He got David Hayter to play Sean Barker/The Guyver, who is actually not a bad actor it should be said. The music from Les Claypool III is also brilliant, very tense, and it fits brilliantly into the movie. However, where Steve Wang really focussed was the choreography. He got in a fantastic stunt team that put together some mindblowing fights. The final battle for me where the Guyver takes on the Zoanoids is just awesome. Whoever the stuntman is that is in the Guyver costume is just an amazing fighter.

I’d recommend this to anyone. Sure the effects can be a tad cheesy, but for something that has been made on a moderate budget you could sure do a lot worse!

4/5

JM

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