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Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai DVD

Ghost dog - The Way of the Samurai DVD Starring: Forest Whitaker, Henry Silva, et al.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
More Info | Buy online Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai DVD

R. Scott Rogers' Review

Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off,
he should be able to do one more action with certainty.

You have to let this film wash over you for the first few minutes; it might take a quarter hour to fall under its spell. But you will, if only because Forest Whitaker's Ghost Dog is one of the most interesting and sympathetic characters in modern cinema.

The drag you might feel at the start returns at times, particularly when director Jim Jarmusch puts his characters behind the wheel. As in his "Night on Earth," Jarmusch seems to believe that the way people drive reveals their character. Perhaps, but not when Jarmusch is behind the camera. Another director might not have had the vision to put this near-masterpiece of intimate cinema together, but Jarmusch's great flaw of somnulescent editing infuses the film.

That said, this is a movie about characters living with outdated world views. We befriend Ghost Dog, who is a hired killer, and dislike the Mafia capos for whom he works. Yet both live by codes that have become obsolete, and both hurtle toward tragic ends brought about by strict adherance to their out-of-date ideals. Even so, there is grace and beauty in Ghost Dog's adherance to the samurai code, and his ideals allow him to embrace his inevitable end in a way that those around him cannot.

If Kurosawa was a young filmmaker today, this is the sort of movie he would likely make. It would be a better film in his hands. Yet despite Jarmusch's technical failings, he succeeds at creating an absorbing movie that is driven by fascinating characters and the brilliant performances of the actors who play them. The soundtrack, produced by Wu Tang's RZA, manages to bridge the tension between the characters and their very different millieus. "Ghost Dog" is a movie of quality that falls short only because it aims so much higher than its peers.

From Amazon.com

Amazon.com Editorial Review

Forest Whitaker makes an unlikely modern samurai with his laser-sighted pistols, shabby street clothes, and oddly graceful gait--but then Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is an unusual film. Quirky, contemplative, and at times absurd, it's just the kind offbeat vision we've come to expect from the fiercely independent Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise, Dead Man). Whitaker is Ghost Dog, a mysterious New York hit man who lives simply on a tenement rooftop and follows a code of behavior outlined in Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai (passages of this book are interspersed throughout the film). When the local mob marks him for death in a complicated code of Mafiosi-style honor, Ghost Dog sends a cryptic message to his foes. "That's poetry. The poetry of war," remarks mobster Henry Silva, with sudden respect upon reading the verse. He could be describing the ethereal beauty of Jarmusch's vision, full of wonderful imagery (a night drive across town seems to float in time) and off-center humor. Though it briefly stalls in a series of assassinations (Jarmusch is no action director), it settles back into character-driven drama in a quietly epic showdown, equal parts samurai adventure, spaghetti western, and existential crime movie. The film is likely too unconventional and offbeat for general audiences, but cult-movie buffs and Jarmusch fans will appreciate his idiosyncratic vision. He finds a strange sense of honor in the clash of Old World traditions, and salutes his heroes with a skewed but sincere respect.

Sean Axmaker

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