Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (R)
Criterion; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: none that I know of
Rather an interesting movie. There's this hit man who calls himself Ghost Dog, who fancies himself a samurai. In fact scenes are interspersed with bits of text about the way of the samurai. (If there's any direct connection between these bits of text and the events transpiring in the story, I don't see it, I'm afraid.) When he was younger, a mobster named Louie saved his life. Now Ghost Dog considers Louie his master, and feels the same respect and obligation to him that an old-school samurai might have felt to his shogun.
Some of Louie's superiors want a guy whacked, and Louie gets Ghost Dog to do it. There was a girl present who wasn't supposed to be (we like her). The reasons for all of this are unclear to me, but suffice to say, because of her presence, it seems, they now want Ghost Dog dead, as well. It may be more complicated than that, as I believe the guy he was contracted to kill was a member of the same gang to which they belonged. Or something. In any event, they want Louie to tell them what he can about Ghost Dog, which isn't much. Things like "he's a big black guy" and "he contacts me by sending a passenger pigeon every day" really... Yeah, not all that helpful. Louie warns Ghost Dog that they want to kill him, and failing that, they'll kill Louie himself. Ghost Dog remains loyal.
There are other elements to this film which bear mentioning. Ghost Dog talks to a young girl about essentially unrelated matters. He lends her a book. Books, and the lending of them, constitute an important theme. Also, characters often seem to be watching cartoons, which are always suddenly shut off. And Ghost Dog's best friend is a guy in an ice cream truck who only speaks French. They don't understand each other, though it's amusing how they often say the same things, without exactly knowing it. Well, anyway... there's a lot of shooting and killing. I don't know what else to say. Just that I find it a great testament to something, that, in spite of the milieu, it is very much an artistic film. And, yes, at times rather amusing. That's about it. (I originally included this in my "art films" category, but later moved it to "badass movies," but that doesn't mean I don't still consider it an art film, okay?)