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This film has been out for awhile and I've seen it three times already, but after re-watching it again I wanted to make sure that everyone knows how much I love this film. Films this good and original don't come along that often. The term cult film best suits this unusual genre tale of rap and the way of the samurai. Oh, and don't forget the Italian mob.

The film follows Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker, THE CRYING GAME), a hit man, who lives by the ancient code of the samurai. As a teen, the gangster Louie (John Tormey, GAME 6) saved Ghost Dog from some thugs and the African American man has vowed his life to the Italian American mobster. Ghost Dog's best friend, Raymond (Isaach DeBankole, CASINO ROYALE) is an ice cream man, who only speaks French and Ghost Dog only speaks English. The kind-eyed assassin develops a sweet friendship with a young girl named Pearline (Camille Winbush, TV's THE BERNIE MAC SHOW). Ghost Dog is cool, calculated and ingenious when he's doing his work. But he believes in his code of honor to the end, whether it will lead to his death or not.

Every character is so well-developed that they become simply unforgettable. Ghost Dog is a hip-hop warrior, who contacts his boss through passenger pigeons. The gangsters like rap and always watch cartoons. The scene where Ghost Dog's boss has to explain to his bosses that he has to contact the hit man by attaching a message to a bird is one of the best scenes in film history. Roger Ebert believes that Ghost Dog is crazy, but I'd have to disagree. His beliefs are like his religion. They give him purpose and meaning, without them he would be lost. He's not "normal" in a traditional way, but his sense of honor is noble.

This film works equally as a thriller and comedy. It also works as a wonderful character study and as a meditation on people, who live by codes in an age of chaos. The film totally turns the conventions and stereotypes of gangster films upside down, leading to hilarious and poignant results. Director and writer Jim Jarmusch brings a matter of fact tone to the material, which is dry and perfect. He doesn't beat you over the head with the themes or the humor, letting it flow naturally. Take note to the way he plays on clichés when Ghost Dog goes to the one gangster's house to kill him and how he gets into the garage. Very funny and smart. As for the music, the choice of Wu Tang Clan's RZA was inspired. The songs enhance the scenes without pulling one out of the story while creating a unique vibe that seems to have organically sprung to life from the material.

Famed director John Ford said that the test of a great film is a film that contains three great scenes and no bad ones. This film has one great scene after another and never takes a bad step along the way. Please watch this film. Trust me, you have never seen anything like it before.

Rick DeMott's picture

Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks