Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, this groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece deserves some recognition on Pimpin Pens. Released in 1999 the movie follows the journey of an enigmatic modern day assassin known as Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker). Ghost Dog adheres to the strict moral code of the samurai. He swears allegiance to his master; a mobster by the name of Louie. Louie saved Ghost Dog's life as a child so he is indebted to him for the rest of his life through the code of the samurai. Since he is loyal to his master, Ghost Dog executes "contracts" on behalf of the mob for Louie. After Ghost Dog performs an unsanctioned hit on a mob cohort witnessed by the daughter of the mob boss (Don Vargo), he finds himself the target of a contract out on his life. The mob orders Louie to find Ghost Dog and terminate him on site, the only problem is that Ghost Dog is not so easy to find. Louie's only means of communication with Ghost Dog are via carrier pigeons that relay messages back and forth so as not to disclose Ghost Dog's actual location. The mob henchman locate the pigeon coup and kill his pigeons to send a message. This enrages Ghost Dog who goes on a killing spree, systematically taking out all his enemies in true samurai fashion. Interspersed throughout the movie are quotes from the book The Way of the Samurai; narrated by Ghost Dog which help to explain his code of ethics in greater detail. The movie is a perfect fusion of hip-hop, mafia, and Japanese culture spawning a different type of hood/mafia flick. The end result is a quirky and stylized look into the inner sanctum of two cultures enshrouded in mystery, namely the mafia and the samurai. The director Jarmusch does a good job of never delving too deep into any one character, giving the viewer only outer glimpses into the character's persona. A dominant theme throughout the movie is cartoon imagery. The cartoons serve as precursor metaphors to indicate what will happen in the next scene. For instance there is a scene when the head mafia boss Vargo is watching a Felix the Cat cartoon in the limo with his daughter. The evil professor voices his displeasure in his inability to capture Felix the Cat and his magic bag. This directly corresponds to the mafias ineptitude in capturing Ghost Dog who carries his briefcase full of weaponry (magic bag). The Rza aka Bobby Digital from Wu Tang Clan does a brilliant job on the musical score of the film, providing the exact balance of hood/samurai auditory stimulation. Don't take my word for it, this film is artistry of epic proportions. I leave you with a scene from Ghost Dog where the Wu Tang affiliates Dreddy Kruger, Timbo King, Clay Da Raider, Dead and Stinking, and Deflon Sallahr spit some cold freestyle verses to Raekwon's Ice Cream beat.

Enzoe on the Posts
Posts by Enzoe

No comments: