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 67,402 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 342 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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1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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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


All assassins live beyond the law... only one follows 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
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Did You Know?


Every time Ghost Dog is in a car and puts the music on, he turns the volume up to level 21. See more »


The third mafia man has bloodstains before Ghost Dog shoots him 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 ...
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Crazy Credits

Not the Executive Producer Bart Walker See more »


Referenced in The Rotten Tomatoes Show: Watchmen/Shuttle/12 (2009) See more »


Cold Lampin With Flavor
Written by Flavor Flav, Hank Schocklee and Eric Sandler
Published by Read Music International, Inc. O/B/O Reach Back (BMI) and Def Songs, Inc. (BMI)
Courtesy of Def Jam Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

Who Would Believe This Is So Good?
4 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of the strangest, and most likable movies I have ever seen....and I have seen a lot, believe me.

Scene after scene was bizarre. I watched an amazement on the first viewing, chuckling here and there. By the third viewing, I just laughing out loud throughout much of it. The dark, subtle humor in here is as good as I've ever seen on film....even though it may be classified more of a gangster film than a comedy.

The humor mainly involved the gangsters, who were a bunch of old Mafia men. A mob never looked this pathetic but they were characters. It was especially fun to see Henry Silva again, a man who used to be an effective villain back on a lot of TV shows in the 1960s. He didn't say much in this movie but the looks on his face were priceless. The funniest guy, at least to me, was the mobster who sang and danced to rap music!

The byplay between "Ghost Dog," the hero of the movie played wonderfully by Forest Whitaker, and the ice cream man, who only spoke French, also was fun and entertaining.

Almost every character in here was a strange, led by Whitaker who plays a modern-day hit-man who lives by the code of the ancient Samurai warriors. He also trains and communicates through carrier pigeons. Hey, I said this was a bizarre movie!

The violence was no-nonsense, however, nothing played for laughs and unlike Rambo-mentality, people who were shot at were hit and usually killed right away.

Along the way on this strange tale was a lesson or two on loyalty, racism, philosophies, kindness, communication, etc. How much of this you take seriously, and how much as a gag, is up to you, I guess. The more I watch this, the more I see it as clever put-on comedy....yet sad. It's not to easy to describe but you wind up getting involved with these odd people.

The movie changes rapidly as Whitaker does in this story. One minute he is a brutally bear-like hit-man and the next minute, the gentlest of souls.

A very unique film. The title looks a bit stupid and one you would easily dismiss as moronic, but it is far from it. Great entertainment.

114 of 149 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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