Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai

Director: Jim Jarmusch

U.S.A.-Japan-France-Germany| 1999. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 116 min.

Finding himself critically adrift in a post-Tarantino world, Jarmusch returned with a bold statement of intent in the form of an urban samurai ?ick illuminated by a towering, largely silent performance from the perennially underused Forrest Whitaker. When honour-bound hitman Ghost Dog (Whitaker) ?nds himself the target of his old-school mobster paymasters thanks to an assignment inadvertently gone pear-shaped, this wraith-like, pigeon-loving assassin has but one choice: kill or be killed. Driven by an edgy, eclectic hip-hop score from Wu-Tang Clan maven The RZA, Ghost Dog re?ects the spirit of Jean-Pierre Melville and Samuel Fuller (there’s a little Buster Keaton in there for good measure). It’s de?nitely a profound meditation on centuries-old notions of duty and friendship, and perhaps also a wry take on the cinema of Tarantino and his legions of wannabes. Either way, Ghost Dog con?rmed Jarmusch as the last of the true independents. Lee Marvin would surely have approved.

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