Last night, Mrs. Bissage and I watched the movie “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” Forest Whitaker is amazing, as usual, and I like any movie with a narrator, and I’m a real sucker for that serene “ancient Chinese secret” life-lesson stuff, so I recommend it.
Give it a “B.” It has a mellow, rhymic, mood which is interestingly incongruous for a movie where people get shot left and right.
I’m not at all sure where it took place, but the movie does an excellent job of making the urban world look like a giant poop-hole. The water in “Titanic” was a character, all by itself, and so too is the general grubbiness in “Ghost Dog.” I don’t like cities to begin with and the movie’s portrayal is pretty much the way I see them; trash and decay and grime everywhere. Depressing.
Anyway, the movie’s biggest fault, IMHO, is its hedging sense of humor. The mobsters are too cartoonish to be scary and the director shoves some animated cartoons in there just so we all get to feel like we're in on the joke.
Ha ha. Whatever.
If they spent more time and money on it they’d have ended up with a Quentin Tarantino movie, without the jitters. As I might have said before, “Ghost Dog” is nearly hypnotic. No jagged edges, at all.
It's worth a rent so long as you’re into dime-store code-of-the-warrior stuff (WORF!), and gangster movies like “Goodfellas,” and you’re looking for some light entertainment.
There is no greatness in it, but it wasn’t boring.
P.S. (1) I should add that I highly recommend “Rashōmon” and “The Seven Samurai,” in that order.
(2) If you pay close attention to the elements in “Ghost Dog,” it’s pretty easy to see how it never comes together so as to exceed itself, which threatens to betray the whole cinematic idiom. Maybe I’ll explain what I mean by that blather, some day later. Ha!
(3) I don’t care for rap music. It’s simply not my cup of tea. But the rap music in “Ghost Dog” was appropriately moody and it didn’t get in the way too much. I kept listening for the word "ho" but to no avail.