Categories this film falls into:
Just a Damn Fine Film
ghost dog: the way of the samurai (1999)
Ghost Dog is a hitman who follows the way of the samurai.
I have not so thoroughly enjoyed a film in such a very long time. This
is truly a gem. Jim Jarmusch is a genius - he's one of the few people
who continues to impress me as time rolls on.
The concept is wonderful: a hitman who follows the code of the samurai.
But this film is so much more than that. When trying to describe this
film to a friend, I realized that I couldn't really sum it up with one
plot line. There are several different relationships which develop during
the course of the movie (with Raymond, with Pearline, with Louie, with
Louise, with the Way), and each one adds more depth to both the movie
and to the character of Ghost Dog. Each time I watch it I am reminded
of why I love Jim Jarmusch films so much. Bravo Jim.
THINGS I LOVE
Whitaker. I can't think of a more perfect Ghost Dog.
The music. There
are some films in which the music is as much a part of the film as the
actors, the stage and the lighting - this is one of those films. RZA
even makes an appearance in the film as the samurai in camouflage.
from Hagakure's The Way of the Samurai. I love that the passage is superimposed
over the scene and that Forest Whitaker reads it aloud. Fabulous.
The way that
Ghost Dog walks. It's a fabulous walk full of power, confidence, and
a bit of humility.
The fact that
all the gangsters are old. Sort of like a dying breed, if you will.
It's a theme that runs through the movie.
Dog and Raymond. This has to be one of the best friendships ever put
on film. It's perfect for Ghost Dog to have a best friend that speaks
a completely different language. I thought as the movie moved along
that I would tire of this subplot, but I didn't. I laughed as hard the
last time as I did the first - the way one of them will say something
and then the other will say the exact same thing in the other language.
I love that Jim Jarmusch put in this relationship where the two guys
know each other so well and yet have never understood
a word the other has said. This is pure genius.
her relationship with Ghost Dog. Number 1, she's a very cool kid carrying
around a lunchbox full of books. Number 2, it's fantastic that Ghost
Dog lends her books on the condition that she tells him what she thinks
of them. I love it.
The way Ghost
Dog flips his CDs before he plays them.
car is too long for his garage. Too perfect.
All the gangster's
Ghost Dog stealing
the first Lexus. Fabulous devices. Very cool. And, when he drives out
around the corner, it's a nice touch to have the police car drive past.
I love that he brings his own music.
frames while driving through the tunnel. This is visually stunning.
The kid throwing
down toys onto Louie and his pals. He's not so much throwing as simply
dropping. Very funny.
When Louie gets
called in about the mess-up. I love the setup with the 3 head guys on
one side of the table and Louie on the other. The entire discussion
is fabulous - from Louie trying to explain how he communicates with
Ghost Dog (via a bird) - to them asking where he lives - to them asking
his name which they balk at - and ending with them telling Johnny to
go get Sammy the Snake and Big Angie! It's just too wonderful.
Dog practicing with the knives, swords on top of the roof. It's slow-motion
and overlapping. Very cool visual effects.
The dog. Just
staring at Ghost Dog.
Ghost Dog meeting
Pearline and their discussion about books. This is great stuff.
to Raymond. I love her frank reaction when she finds out that Raymond
only speaks French and Ghost Dog only speaks English.
Ghost Dog standing
in front of the green metal door and Sonny driving around the corner
- the sustained look between them is fantastic. Great music.
Ghost Dog shooting
Louie. "I don't mean no disrespect."
The guy building
the boat on his roof. I love Raymond's enthusiasm - and when he calls
down to the guy in French and the guy answers in Spanish. Simply fantastic.
When the gangsters
have all gathered and the pigeon comes to deliver the message. Watching
the old guys trying to catch the bird is hilarious.
The license plates.
Fantastic license plates. "The Highway State"
The shot of Ghost
Dog pointing the gun at the poacher - the barrel of the gun in the foreground.
I love that he is singing and dancing to a rap song as he gets ready
for bed. This really is, next to the first death in the movie Cube,
one of the most creative assassinations on film.
shot after the shoot-out. Very nice.
Japan was a pretty strange place. - Louise Vargo
him. What're ya gonna do? - Joe
have been extinct since 1914. - Old Consigliere
white man. - Nobody
Look, if you're
my retainer, whatever the fuck that is, do what I'm telling ya and fucking
shoot me. - Louie
All the passages
from "The Way of the Samurai"