Saturday, April 23, 2011

Something a Little Different

Recently I watched a rather unique movie that, although could be best described as a crime-drama, has distinct martial arts undertones. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) is an artfully done film with an improbable theme: a professional assassin (Ghost Dog) who is the retainer of a Mafiosa who saved his life years earlier. Forest Whitaker plays the title character with aplomb, adhering to a samurai code laid out in Hagakure, a philosophical tome written in the eighteenth century that features anecdotes on Japanese warriorship and feudal etiquette, among other interesting topics. Ghost Dog recites from Hagakure throughout the story during critical impasses, but the book also offers some lessons that definitely falls outside the realm of martial arts in the normal sense. Here are a few snippets:

  • When embarking on a long journey it is best to keep lice out of one's underwear.
  • If you arrive home to find your wife committing adultery, kill the adulterer and make it look like he was a burglar. Then divorce your wife.
  • Even if one's head were to be completely cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty.

If philosophy is your thing and you're looking for something a little different I recommend both a reading of Hagakure and a viewing of Ghost Dog to fulfill your martial arts needs for enlightenment and entertainment.

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Blogger Nathan at TDA Training said...

Have not heard of it until this post, but it sounds good.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, John: I enjoyed this when it first came out on DVD/VHS video.

5:42 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Nathan and Charles:

A friend of mine recommended it so I picked up a copy at the library. Personally most MA flicks that I've seen at this point bore me to tears. I really thought it was well done. Most of my karate friends have never heard of it, but still remember Forest Whitaker from The Color of Money and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Mathieu said...

I guess Richard Gere never though of that in his movie with Diane Lane.


2:21 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...


No, but dropping the body off at a dump is so much classier. And he got away with it!

5:57 PM  

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