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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 61,145 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 339 user | 165 critic | 31 from Metacritic.com

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)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast

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

In Jersey City, an African American hit man follows "Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai." He lives alone, in simplicity with homing pigeons for company, calling himself Ghost Dog. His master, who saved his life eight years ago, is part of the local mob. When the boss' daughter witnesses one of Ghost Dog's hits, he becomes expendable. The first victims are his birds, and in response, Ghost Dog goes right at his attackers but does not want to harm his master or the young woman. On occasion, he talks with his best friend, a French-speaking Haitian who sells ice cream in the park, and with a child with whom he discusses books. Can he stay true to his code? And if he does, what is his fate? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

6 October 1999 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Dog  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In several scenes in the movie the main character can be seen wearing a shirt that has Chinese writing on it. The text is from the Qing dynasty and means "All things are impermanent, this is the rule of creation and destruction, once created already extinguished, silently ending is the path to happiness." (Pin yin: zhu xing wu chang, shi sheng mie fa, sheng mie mie yi, ji mie wei yue) See more »

Goofs

The Pit Bull that always follows Ghost Dog around is referred to as a "He" when in fact it is a she. See more »

Quotes

[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

The second to last person thanked at the credits' close is Akira Kurosawa--the Japanese filmmaker who filmed one of the Ghost Dog's central texts, Rashomon. See more »

Connections

Features The Simpsons: Itchy and Scratchy and Marge (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Dangerous Fun
Written and Performed by William Loose
Published by Revision West (BMI), Don Great (BMI), and May Loo Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Marc Ferrari/Don Great Music Library
See more »

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User Reviews

 
a fascinating, strange hybrid of black, Japanese and Italian culture, with a perfectly detached, somber lead in Forrester
9 July 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jim Jarmusch is one of the few filmmakers in Hollywood able to make bodies of work that are challenging, thoughtful, and with a distinctive voice. Like the Coen Brothers, it's hard to make his films accessible to the public like many other films at the cineplexes, and that's part of the joy in watching a film such as Ghost Dog. It's such a strange kind of story, but it's a story that extremely well crafted, even when some of the characters aren't developed enough past a certain point. While I can't really say that it's a great film, there are plenty of great things about it.

Such as a pulsing, rhythmically engaging soundtrack (I'm not a big fan of rap and hip-hop, but the artists on here are better than expected) with the RZA behind the seat. Delicate, finite cinematography by Robby Mueller (who's other superb collaboration with Jarmusch was on Down By Law). A performance from Forrest Whitaker, as the dedicated, un-hinged-from reality 'samurai' known as Ghost Dog, which ranks among his best and shows in plain sight that he can carry an action film with patience and cool. And the film also carries a fine sense of humor to many scenes - the fact that these gangsters (one of which Dog's boss) watch more cartoons than take care of business is as funny as the way they interact sometimes. While it tends to streak on parody, in the characters there's still the fascinating Jarmusch has in mixing the cultures.

It's a hard film to classify, for even though it's a martial-arts movie, the only sight of a sword is used for practice and not a blood-bath in Kill Bill. It's a gangster movie, but every five minutes or so there's philosophical notes on the way of the samurai that seems more in place in a (good, thematically engaging) art film than a (good, shoot-em-up) Hollywood actioner. It's a movie about urban-life, yet the only signs of Urbana are shown from a distance, where the only two who will talk to Ghost Dog are a Haitian ice cream guy (who provides a wonderfully weird scene on the roof with Ghost Dog), and a little girl who likes to read. But it's this mixture that can keep a viewer on his or her toes, especially once you realize the psychological state of the lead as much as his spiritual state.

Parts of the film might turn off one group, but the other parts of the film might keep the same group enthralled. In fact, it's as interesting a comparison to be made to Kill Bill (itself a hybrid) as it is in the spiritual and stylistic parent, Le Samourai by Melville. Like those films, at the least, Jarmusch's film asks to be looked at more than once...Anyway, three cheers for Garry "Nobody" Farmer!


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