Movie Reviews: Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai




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     Artisan (2hr.)
     An ingeniously re-imagined gangster picture presented as a cross-cultural fusion of Eastern philosophy, hip-hop music, urban darkness and movie iconography.
     Forest Whitaker, Henry Silva, Cliff Gorman
Bottom Line:


     Swinging his two pistols like samurai swords, braided-haired Forest Whitaker plays a ultra-cool assassin who lives by the samurai code in Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai.
     Whitaker plays the title character in this surreal gangster flick where Mafia bosses are hip to hip-hop, and watch old cartoons on television (older than anything "Nick at Night" would dare show), and Public Enemy's rap seems to be the cultural norm.
     Whitaker plays a Mafia hitman whose reads poetry on a roof top, raises pigeons and recites samurai verses. His best friends are a French ice cream vendor -- the shtick is Whitaker can't speak French, but yet understands every derange utterance by the vendor -- and a little girl with whom who trades novels.
     However, that's during Whitaker's calmer moments. When he's on the clock, Whitaker unleashes the cold samurai fury and always gets his man.
     The film traces a contract killing, where Whitaker kills the right man, but unfortunately the Mafia had fingered the wrong guy. So rather admit their mistake, the bosses decide that Whitaker has to pay for the botched hit. Which of course is another mistake, or there wouldn't be any movie. Right?
     At first Ghost Dog's art direction seems cheesy and reminiscent of a low budget independent quickie. However, as the flick develops, it becomes obvious that the film's dark and grainy look is an intentional cinematic marvel accenting the film's quirkiness and its affectedness to breakthrough the old gangster genre and introduce a different view through the looking glass.
     Maybe we'll always have Paris, but Bogie was never like this.



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