Ghost Dog : Way Of the Samurai seems to be an American made Japanese movie. I liked it, though the pacing will definitely not be to everyone's taste. There were somewhat long stretches with no action or dialogue, much like Japanese movies I have seen in the past.

The movie was also somewhat surreal. Not quite to the level of The Mystery of Rampo, for example, but definitely odd actions by western standards.

Also there were some truly cool death scenes. I won't give any of them away, but suffice to say that a roleplayer will find lots of neat ideas in the movie for killing people off. The title character may also be another example of a Truly Badass character.

So, I liked it, but it will not be for everyone. Go if you like foreign movies and or Japanese culture. Don't go if you cannot stand rap and or slow spots in movies. Also has a lot of death, some of it 'pointless' so do not see this film if that bothers you.

Director/Writter: Jim Jarmusch
Title Character: Forest Whitaker

Also Appearing:
John Tormey
Victor Argo
Tricia Vessey
Cliff Gorman

I saw this film on the recommendation of ideath.

A very interesting film. The character "Ghost Dog", played by Forest Whitaker, lives in a world of values constructed by his of reading paperback translations of Japanese texts of dubious worth. Shorn from their historical and social context, Ghost Dog freely adapts them to construct a world of values and certainties.

He is a "button man", a contract killer for a small capo in a Mafia family. The gangsters are ineffectual, unable to pay the landlord three months rent and are easily cowed and shamed.

Having killed a "made man" on the orders of this Family, things go awry. He must be eliminated. Instead, he murders the mobsters one by one, allowing himself to be killed at the end by the small capo that was his "lord".

He lives cut off from the world he actually lives in. His best friend is a Haitian ice cream salesman who understands Ghost Dog perfectly but who cannot speak English. Ghost Dog speaks no French. They understand each other, but cannot speak with each other.

Ghost Dog passes on his copy of "Hagakure", a text by a samurai who never faced a live sword but that has formed the frame for his self-constructed world, onto a young girl.

Very well done, well shot, well-acted.

However, I watched this with two elderly Japanese friends who did not speak English. They saw it as just another predictable American action movie. The scene in which Ghost Dog kills his main foe by turning off the water to the washroom and then firing his gun up through the pipe when the gangster looked down the drain drew cries of ridicule. They did not understand that the film was ironic. I wonder how Americans would understand its faux-Japanese elements.

Taken literally, the film is embarassing. Taken as intended by director Jim Jarmusch, as a view of self-constructed worlds, it is another funny, tender, sad, and beautiful film by a very talented film-maker.

Unfortunately, this writeup is a bit of a spoiler. Skip it if you intend to be surprised by the movie.

There was a scene cut from the movie which I felt explained the the fact that the gangsters were behind on the rent extremely well. I almost missed it, and how it explained so much in the movie, until I saw it on the DVD version.

Apparently, the businesses of the gangsters were not making money as well as they needed them to. They were talking to an accountant (who was new, since their old accountant had died) who was telling them that they might have to declare bankruptcy. None of the mafioso could accept the concept. They kept talking about how their businesses should be doing well, etc. And they kept talking about completely unrelated things.

Apparently, they were stuck in their old world and unwilling to accept the new one. Somewhat of the point of the movie, and the cut scene just would have explained it so much better.

But, one of the important concepts of the movie was how these people were anachronisms. And the main drive of the movie was how this girl had her trust fund, which was the gangster's only source of REAL money. And how Ghost Dog got himself in trouble, by killing the guy who was making off with that money.

The whole movie gelled with that scene. I imagine if I watch the movie again, I'll see some more themes in the movie. You're totally right, though. You need to ignore some of the "silly stuff" ... And see some little subtle things in the movie. Like how the gangsters are always watching cartoons -- and how Ghost Dog's assasinations are always foreshadowed by the cartoons that the gantsters watch. (That's what was so silly about that drain-killing... It was taken from the cartoon that the guard was watching.)

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