7. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
If I had my way this movie would be #1 on this list. Hell, this movie would be #1 on every list. It is without a doubt my favorite film, but as I want to be fair to the entire Samurai Cinema genre here Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai sits at #7. This Samurai film is unlike any Samurai film out there, and certainly unlike any other film on this list. It’s a curious blend of street wise hip-hop culture, mafioso gangster happenings, and Samurai teachings. Were this story in the hands of a lesser filmmaker it’d be an absolute train wreck, but director Jim Jarmusch is no ordinary filmmaker. The legendary indie filmmaker manages to balance all the different genre collisions in this film masterfully. This is a story of Ghost Dog, a hitman for the Italian-American Mob who lives by a strict code, the code of the Samurai. Throughout the movie Ghost Dog reads from the Hagakure, the book of the Samurai, and presents us with key elements from the Samurai code. The juxtaposition between these musings and the happenings within the story, be it Ghost Dog or the Mafia, marry together so perfectly that it’s a wonder no one attempted a film like this before. With a score by the RZA every moment.
- The lead role was written specifically for Forrest Whitaker. Had Whitaker turned it down the film wouldn’t have been produced
- RZA’s debut as an actor
- The voice over quotes in the film come from the book “Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai” written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo in the 1700’s
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