Thursday, September 12, 2013

Film Review: Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai (1999)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Review)
United States/1999
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Everything else is great, even with the overwhelming use RZA's music and humor."

In the inner-city, Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) follows the strict life of a samurai. Believing he is a retainer for local mobster Louie, Ghost Dog assassinates a made man for him. But, the assassination goes awry and Ghost Dog becomes the target of the criminal organization.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a unique crime drama. Of course, the story follows Ghost Dog as he lives a calm, collective life, following the code of a samurai; he works as a hitman on the side, with few friends and reading books in his free time. In order to protect himself and his master, Ghost Dog must also face the criminal organization. And so it builds up to a climatic shooting and a showdown for its great ending; an open ending that allows for some free interpretation. Overall, the story is very interesting and unique.

But, it's not without flaw. By the time the film ends, it feels somewhat uneventful. Many scenes feel like music videos promoting RZA's music and other rap; not exactly useless as they give time to contemplate, but they occur way too often and unnecessarily inflate the runtime. Aside from those segments, the plot also suffers from some illogicalities and inconsistencies. Although the film works mostly off the action and drama, there are a few scenes with overwhelming humor; I can stand subtle humor and such, but I can't really take the themes and contemplative aspects of the film seriously with such eccentric and overwhelming humor.

Forest Whitaker is great as the lead. He really delivers his character well, coming off as a calm soul - a modern day samurai. The rest of the cast deliver great performances, as well. Although I disliked the way it's used, the music is great - really a fantastic soundtrack from RZA. Jim Jarmusch has great direction and creative writing - but the writing could've been tighter. Technically, the film is great.

Overall, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a great crime drama. The story is creative and interesting - even contemplative to a point - but it suffers from some inconsistent writing. Everything else is great, even with the overwhelming use RZA's music and humor.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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