Ghost Dog, a lone hitman, gets hired by some mobsters to do a job, only to find he's been double-crossed.
A man of loyalty and respect, Ghost Dog lives by a strict code from his personal bible the "Book of Samurai". Living day by day pretending to be an ancient warrior, our hero is now on the defense as a gangly crew of old mafia killers are interrupting his peaceful rooftop solitude.
Only getting paid on the first day of fall and only reachable through passenger pigeons the character of Ghost reminds me a lot of Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver". They both roam through the night in their cars watching the scum crawl through the streets, both praying for a cleansing rain to come through the city.
I loved the separation of chapters throughout the story. Each scene is fore casted with either a Samurai proverb or the use of cartoons as metaphors littering through the film.
The movie was surprisingly deep in symbology and character. One of my favorite scenes involves a killed bear on the side of the road which is a direct parallel to Ghost who is repeatedly characterized as a big teddy bear. Jim Jarmusch (Dean Man, Broken Flowers, Coffee and Cigarettes) through his story telling tactics gives us layers and layers of depth and meaning.
The soundtrack was composed by The Rza which mirrors the music in Afro Samurai ironically enough which is also a negro samurai tale.
Forest Whitaker does an amazing job as the big teddy bear killer with his silent hooded presence, trademark lazy eye, and swooping holster move. At first as I watched his clumsy and over weight rooftop sword training I wasn't convinced of him as the lead role. I wanted to see someone thin and lean who looks truly like a samurai. But as the movie progresses I began to catch the vision of what the director was trying to say with Whitaker and by the end it worked perfectly.
This is not a movie about a killer, or a highly trained samurai. This is a movie about men who live by a code and men who don't. A man with respect and integrity and what happens when you cross these lines.
Ghost Dog pretends to be a Samurai as much as he pretends to not to want friends. It's his identity. It's his balance to all that is wrong in his life. It's his faith that keeps him going. Following the code.
Don't watch Ghost Dog for an action packed edge of your seat blood fest. Watch it for no other reason than seeing a deep sketch of a character within an overwhelming film of rich symbolism and three dimensionality. Like putting on head phones to your favorite album turn on the TV and let the movie wash over you.
I give it my highest rating. Thanks Stephen. Sorry I doubted..........sucka.