Ghost Dog

Ghost Dog

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

After the Western that wasn't (Dead Man), Jim Jarmusch seems less interested in genre rules than making up his own.

Ghost Dog has a subtitle - The Way Of The Samurai - raising the spirit of Kurosawa, while satirising Mafia movies. The film belongs to Forest Whitaker (Charlie Parker in Bird). His presence is so forceful that you don't want to think about the absurdity of his character.

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He lives in a shack on the roof of an empty building in New Jersey, beside a coop of homing pigeons. He studies the Samurai code and works occasionally as a contract killer.

He has no telephone, social life or public face. He communicates through pigeon and when employed by the local branch of Cosa Nostra - a bunch of geriatric fools - insists on being paid annually.

He calls himself Ghost Dog and appears shy, self-contained, not a load of laughs. His best friend, outside of Louie (John Tormey), his Mafia contact, is Raymond (Isaach de Bankole), a Haitian ice cream seller, who only speaks French - Ghost Dog doesn't understand French. His new friend is a little black girl in the park (Camille Winbush), who likes to read - Ghost Dog likes to read, also.

The plot runs away with itself once Ghost Dog decides that the mobsters must die. Whitaker transforms into a John Woo action man and puts on a suit. The Samurai stuff need not be taken too seriously. It is a cover for a bit of fun - violent fun.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A modern-day contract killer in New York, who works according to the Samurai code.
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Director: Jim Jarmusch

Writer: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman, Henry Silvaa, Isaach de Bankole, Tricia Vessey

Year: 1999

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan/US/Germany/France

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