Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker And Jim Jamusch Follow The Code

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker poster dvd bluray cover art work

Mister Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) has just jacked a nice slick car for our journey through the City streets. He selects his pre-recorded CDR mixtape and off we cruise through the dark neighborhood. No words, just nodding and contemplating.

Tagline – All assassins live beyond the law… only one follows the code…

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker hitman stolen car cd cdr music

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is one cool as fuck film. On so many levels. Scene to scene it effortlessly portrays style. It’s deeply sad in its nature, helped along with Forest’s sorrowful demeanour. However it features pitch perfect black comedy at every turn. This gangster and hitman drama whole inner essence resembles more of a traditional western. And somehow it manages to also fuse African American, Italian and Japanese cultures together within it’s narrative. Further that, it features a soundtrack that keeps your head rocking. Every aspect of this film sweetly, perfectly, just bubbles away.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker reading Hagakure

Ghost Dog is our anti hero. A once bruised, battered and bullied kid now filled with a deep honor and a code. Personally indebted to an old Italian gangster called Louie (John Tormey) for saving his life. Ghost Dog repays his debt, with respect to Louie, carrying out contract jobs. You see, Ghost Dog is a hitman. He abides by a strict code. Followed step by step through the ancient traditional spiritual and warrior code teachings within his beloved book, Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

Ghost Dog –In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.

His name, Ghost Dog, sums him up. A lone wolf. Stealth like, invisible, like a ghost. A man deep in thought. He keeps himself to himself, well apart from his feather friends. Surrounded by his beloved pigeons he shadow spars and meditates within the open space of the rooftop. No one knows what he does. No one knows hes a deadly efficient killer. With no phone the only contact to his work is directly through Louie with the use of a tiny message tied to the foot of a pigeon.

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Louie –For the past four years, he’s done, maybe, twelve perfect contracts. Perfect, Like a ghost.

You see, Ghost Dog is a hitman. A hired assassin for the mob. The dying last breed of aging Italian gangsters, sit, hanging on to what little turf they have left. Huddled together these old men occupy the back room of what was once probably a thriving Italian restaurant but now replaced with a Chinese takeaway.

Whereas Ghost Dog’s scenes are, cool, deep and sad, the gangsters on the other hand give us the dark humour of the film.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Henry Silva Ray Vargo Cliff Gorman Sonny Valerio Gene Ruffini

The gangsters are lost in the past. Still trying to hold on to the old ways. Oblivious to the fact they are not what they were. The old guard are dying. The youth have moved on. The organisation hung together by three men sitting around around a table. The shouting deaf toothless pensioner (Gene Ruffini), an intense chiseled psychotic looking mobster in his twilight years with an insanely over tense stare called Ray Vargo (Henry Silva).  And lastly and best of all the Flavor Flav rap rhyming lyrical dropping gangster and spokesman, Sonny Valerio (Cliff Gorman)

Sonny Valerio –My favorite was always Flavor Flav from Public Enemy. You got the funky fresh fly flavor.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker sword roof top cult film

Ghost Dogs methods are perfect. His hits meticulously worked out. Always clean. No mistakes. Perfection. A new job is received from his trusty feathered friend. His hit? To take out Handsome Frank (Richard Portnow). One thing is different, out of his control! Incompetent useless gangsters! The plan still works. Just one change? Ray Vargo’s daughter witnesses the hit. Now old gangsters and their morals can be unpredictable. Ghost Dog finds himself now the hit, the hunted. The Italian’s are all, “Who is this black bear like, pigeon loving man? I want him dead!! You hear? Dead.” Putting in motion a whole chain of painful events.

Sonny Valerio – It’s time to tell us everything you know about this mysterious, ghost-like, untraceable, fuckin’ button man. He needs to be neutralized. Erased from the face of the planet.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker hitman gun silencer blue suit

Now what’s so imaginative and beautifully put across is Forest Whitaker’s performance. He’s far removed from being a traditional stealth like, professionally hitman. Especially with his big hulking bear like frame but Forest couldn’t be more perfect for the part. Obsessively learning the art form of passed down teachings from ancient samurai warriors. He tip toes like mouse, hides within the shadows and strikes with the power and precision of a snake.

Ghost Dog –According to what one of the elders said, taking an enemy on the battlefield is like a hawk taking a bird. Even though it enters into the midst of a thousand of them, it gives no attention to any bird than the one it first marked.

As I say at the beginning, this film is beautiful in its set scenes. The relaxed approach to film making. Quiet thoughtful moments. Ghost Dog sat on a park bench. A young girl sits and watches him. A dog stares him out. An ice cream is bought. We sit in the passenger seat of a stolen car and listen to Ghost Dogs hand picked tunes. We look out the window watching the night city streets hustle and bustle. One of the truly remarkable scenes is the friendship between his only friend Raymond (Isaach De Bankolé) the French speaking ice cream seller. They both chat away not understanding what each other says. Yet beautifully they do. Happy to be in conversation together. A close bond.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker Isaach De Bankolé

A Few Things About The Film.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker sleeping with Jim Jarmusch directing.

  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is directed by the brilliant Jim Jamusch. Such a creative writer and filmmaker. I loved most of his films especially Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Down By Law (1986) Mystery Train (1989) and Broken Flowers (2005).  Though I would say Ghost Dog is my personal favourite. Looking through his filmography I’ve some how missed Night On Earth (1991) and Dead Man (1995) so I can’t wait to visit them. And I’m not sure what to do about his new one? The Dead Don’t Die (2019). I was so excited about his take on a zombie film but then the reviews started coming in. Hopefully it will come to Netflix soon.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker meets respect RZA soundtrack

  • The soundtrack is by rapper, record producer and beat maker RZA. Featuring tracks by Wu-Tang Clan, Killah Priest, and Public Enemy. My favourite tune in the film is when Willie Williams record Armageddon Time blasts from the car stereo system.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Henry Silva in La mala ordina (1972)

  • Cult legend and total bad ass Henry Silva is perfect as one of the head gangsters. He’s been in the film game since 1950 and appears mostly typed cast as the villain. With those distinctive looks he was destined to be the ultimate bad guy. And rightly became the legend that he is. An iconic cult film fav. B-movies would later come but he appeared alongside Frank Sinatra in Ocean’s 11 (1960) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). I need to see his Italian films like The Boss (1973) and The Italian Connection (1972) plus one I’ve been itching to get too for years, as it sounds cool as fuck, Johnny Cool (1963). Ghost Dog has become his last film apart from a cameo homage in Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Rashomon - 1951

  • There’s lots of nods to classic Japanese films with the likes of the classic Rashomon (1950) with it’s theme of people seeing different versions of the same event. And the gun shot through the sinks drain pipe was from director Seijun Suzuki’s amazing film Branded To Kill (1967).

It’s hard to come across a film as effortlessly cool as Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. From a career high performance from Forest Whitaker in a role specially written for him by Jamusch. A few of the little things I love are the muted friendship, the respect shown on the street, the cartoon loving gangsters, the way Ghost Dog uses his gun like a samurai sword.  The quiet moments of reflection, the soundtrack, the sadness and the humour. Everything is perfection for me.

I walked out the cinema with the biggest smile on my face. I knew I’d just witness a perfect film for me. Everything right on-point. I knew I’d be revisiting this movie over and over. I was right.

Hey thanks for popping in. Keep loving film. All the best… Mikey Wolf

Subway (1985) Christopher Lambert, Slap Bass And Bongos Within The Paris Metro – Video Store Action Heroes

Subway (1985) Christopher Lambert Luc Besson movie poster

I knew Christopher Lambert what with his prancing and dancing about in his loincloth! He called the jungle his home and was the self appointed Lord of the Apes, Tarzan (1984). However it wasn’t until his immortal swordsman with that dodgy Scottish accent arrived with the classic action romp, Highlander (1985) that I really clocked his name. So sat there on the shelve in the local video store was the intriguing Subway (1985). With a smartly dressed Christopher Lambert with a shock of white hair and what could only be described as a lightsaber in his hands. Off I went to the counter……….. Continue reading

Dollman (1991) Sci Fi Dirty Harry In Reverse Gulliver’s Travels To The Bronx!

Dollman (1991) Tim Thomerson b movie cult dirty harry in space big gun poster VHS

Jeepers! Dollman just manages to edge it’s way in through the, it’s so bad it’s actually pretty good door. If our hero was just one inch smaller? No way he’d be allowed to ride the cult rollercoaster of thrills. What with it’s crazy premise. Imagine Dirty Harry strutting through a super low budget science fiction film where his iconic .44 Magnum is now a laser cannon. Then for the narrative to flip into Gulliver’s Travels in reverse. Yep this film is striking high and what with its star being a cult film geeks joy. Dollman is thirteen inches of pure gun toting cult attitude. Continue reading

Split Second (1992) In Tribute To The Great Rutger Hauer Here’s Some Sci-Fi Horror Carnage

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With yesterday’s shocking, sad news of the passing of the legend Rutger Hauer I thought I would have a tribute to the great man by watching one of his films. One I’d never managed to see before. Which one would I pick? Well you’ve read the title of the page, silly me. Somehow, really unsure how, 1992s Split Second had completely passed me by.

Tagline – He’s seen the future…Now he has to kill it. He’ll need bigger guns.

Roy Batty Blade runner dove Rutger Hauer Continue reading

Near Dark (1987) Aliens Crew Go Bloodsucking Berserk At The OK Corral

Near Dark (1987) dvd cover poster bill paxton burning mashed up

Ok ok okay! Hold the press. New headline! It’s a shocker. Sit down, please. You’ll never believe it. I don’t believe it. Not sure how it happened. I place the pointy hat of cult shame upon my head and walk out the door to ponder on life. This here Wolfman had never seen Near Dark before! I had always thought I had… I blooming hadn’t! Surely? If anyone asked I’d reply I had. There I was sat happily “rewatching” this cult classic when it dawns on me that “hang on a minute I don’t recall any of this!“. Looking for the positives. How amazing that I got to sit and watch this for the time. My shame turned to joy and the smile returned to my face. Continue reading

Dark Angel (1990) Dolph Lundgren & Death By Compact Disc

Dark Angel (1990) Dolph Lundgren sci-fi action movie poster aliens cop

Dark Angel stars the most American looking I think I’ve ever seen Dolph Lundgren?  (Well Canadian I should add). With his perfectly coiffed dyed dark brown hair he somewhat, to me, looked like Nathan Fillion from Firefly. He wore a similar brown jacket too. Dolph didn’t seem to have much of his Swedish or, in the case of his famous Drago, a Russian accent either.

Dark Angel (1990) Dolph Lundgren looking like Nathan Fillion Continue reading

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (1984) How The Blue Blazes Hadn’t I Seen This Before?

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (1984) movie poster artwork

First up please accept my deepest sincere apologies. Seriously how the blue blazes had I never seen The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension before I really have no clue! Yep that’s the title and yep it’s a wild ride. Big shout out going to the original card carrying Blue Blaze Irregulars member Todd over at Cinema Monolith. Thanks for giving me a gentle nudge with a tongue electrode.

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Rubin And Ed (1991) Trent Harris Unleashes Crispin Glover And Howard Hesseman In A Cult Movie Gem

Rubin and Ed (1991) Trent Harris porters beers signed DVD wolfman cult film

Signed copy by director Trent Harris too!

Now I knew I was gonna be in for a surreal trip so I lubricated up the old mind gears with a few bottles of strong, dark as oil, ale. The first line on the back of the DVD box reads “A delirious detour from the ordinary!“. I grab another bottle and guzzled back more of the good stuff. With a chance encounter with this curious cult Rubin and Ed DVD flying into my mitts from afar, I just couldn’t get my hairy arse sat down quick enough. “Right here I go, I’m going inContinue reading

Paradise Alley (1978) Video Store Action Heroes 4 x Action Packed Fight VHS Movie Memories

Paradise Alley (1976) Sylvester Stallone Armand Assante vhs cover poster

So it’s that time again when the dreamboys or The Video Store Action Heroes as we sometimes go by join forces and unleash a choice selection of our movie rental memories. Now where this is of course a very fun excursion, its not without its dangers, yep I said it, dangers. It’s a tightrope that we walk to bring these reviews. Hacking into the hippocampus part of the brain has peril written all over it. Why you just don’t know what unearthly memory you could tap into. With a gentle prod a sweet memory might bring a bittersweet tear to fall down the side of your cheek or maybe release a slight giggle of laughter. Though truth be told it’s normally a spontaneous bout of Wilhelm Screams. Continue reading