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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  24 March 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 66,827 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 343 user | 166 critic | 31 from

An African American mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob.



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Title: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Liu ...
Frank Minucci ...
Gene Ruffini ...
Frank Adonis ...
Kenny Guay ...
Vince Viverito ...


A hitman who lives by the code of the samurai, works for the mafia and finds himself in their crosshairs when his recent job doesn't go according to plan. Now he must find a way to defend himself and his honor while retaining the code he lives by. Written by Scott Jarreau

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Live by the code. Die by the code. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

24 March 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Dog  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$166,344 (USA) (3 March 2000)


$255,412 (Brazil) (21 February 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The scene in which Ghost Dog shoots the mobster through the sink drain was taken from Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill (1967). See more »


When Ghostdog visits Sonny Valerio's house he puts tape on a window to assure the window does not shatter when he shoots through it. However, when Ghostdog puts the tape on the window, the window clearly bends. The window is actually Plexiglas. See more »


[first lines]
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears, and swords. Being carried away by surging waves. Being thrown into the midst of a great fire. Being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake. Falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease, or committing seppuku at the death of one's ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Not the Executive Producer Bart Walker See more »


References Léon: The Professional (1994) See more »


Nuba One
Performed by Andrew Cyrille and Jimmy Lyons
Music by Andrew Cyrille with lyrics by Jeanne Lee
Published by Major 'A' Music (ASCAP)/Nai-Lyn Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Black Saint Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting and deep, but not as deep as it tries to be
23 June 2004 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

This is a great film; it has pretty much everything a great film needs: a great score, great actors, great performances, etc. The film revolves around Ghost Dog, perfectly portrayed by Forest Whitaker. He is a assassin who lives by the code of the Samurai. Apart from him, we also follow the fate of several mafia men(though nowhere near as intimately as we follow Ghost Dog). These two very different groups, Samurai and mafia, are both depicted reasonably well, giving us insight to how the groups work, and, more importantly, their code. Both groups live and die by the code, and this is probably the most important thing in the movie, and it's shown with respect with both Samurai and mafia; I'm not entirely sure that it's correct all the way through, but that's not what's most important, anyway. The film has reasonably little action, but it's not supposed to be an action film, by any means. It's fairly slow throughout the film, but it never really bores you to the point of not watching any more; I've seen the film at least five times now, so believe me, I know. The film is very stylized and cool throughout, which definitely has some part in keeping you interested, but the theme and story/plot plays a bigger part, I think. The plot is pretty good, and though it keeps a fairly slow pace throughout the film, it also keeps your interest for the entire duration of the film. The acting is all good, though not everyone pulls off as excellent a performance as Whitaker. Isaach De Bankolé portrays Ghost Dog's best friend, and he does gives a great performance. So does Camille Winbush, who portrays a girl who Ghost Dog befriends and discusses books with. The characters are well-written and(mostly) credible. I'm not entirely sure that the film does provide a totally correct version of the Code of the Samurai. The soundtrack is great; it's made by the hip-hop artist RZA, but most of it will be enjoyable to people who aren't into hip-hop. Also, I guess it's more of a score than a soundtrack; there isn't any time where the music feels out of place in a scene. All in all, a great film, but not for all tastes. Don't go in expecting an action film; don't go in expecting a very deep an entirely intellectual film; don't go in expecting a regular movie; go in expecting to see a decent(if not good) representation of both the mafia code and the Samurai code. I've heard some people describe the ending as an anti-climax; I don't know what they were expecting... I won't say that I saw it coming, but I wasn't disappointed when it happened. It had to end it, and I think the director, Jim Jarmusch made a good decision on that. I recommend this film to people with an interest in Samurai, fans of Jarmusch and people looking for a reasonably deep film. I don't recommend this to fans of action movies, as there's fairly little action in the film. No matter who you are, if you're going to see this film, make sure you have the patience for it; it's worth sitting through the two reasonably slow hours for. 8/10

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