7.5/10
80,697
354 user 178 critic

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Trailer
1:30 | Trailer
An African-American Mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A series of vignettes that all have coffee and cigarettes in common.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni
Dead Man (1995)
Drama | Fantasy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange Native American man named Nobody who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Isaach De Bankolé, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An anthology of 5 different cab drivers in 5 American and European cities and their remarkable fares on the same eventful night.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Lisanne Falk
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson
Down by Law (1986)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two innocent people are arrested. An interesting third person, with broken English, joins them in their cell. On his idea, they decide to escape from the prison. Their journey is the rest of the movie.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni
Mystery Train (1989)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Three stories are connected by a Memphis hotel and the spirit of Elvis Presley.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Masatoshi Nagase, Yûki Kudô, Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A young man wanders New York City searching for some meaning in life and encounters many idiosyncratic characters.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Chris Parker, Leila Gastil, John Lurie
Paterson (2016)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Nellie
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a vignette called "Strange to meet you," Roberto sits at a small table in a coffee bar. Five cups of coffee and two ashtrays are in front of him; he drinks and smokes. Steven joins him. ... See full summary »

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Forest Whitaker ... Ghost Dog
John Tormey ... Louie
Cliff Gorman ... Sonny Valerio
Dennis Liu Dennis Liu ... Chinese Restaurant Owner
Frank Minucci Frank Minucci ... Big Angie
Richard Portnow ... Handsome Frank
Tricia Vessey ... Louise Vargo
Henry Silva ... Ray Vargo
Gene Ruffini Gene Ruffini ... Old Consigliere
Frank Adonis ... Valerio's Bodyguard
Victor Argo ... Vinny
Damon Whitaker ... Young Ghost Dog
Kenny Guay Kenny Guay ... Boy in Window
Vince Viverito Vince Viverito ... Johnny Morini
Gano Grills ... Gangsta in Red
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official webpage in Poland

Country:

France | Germany | USA | Japan

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

24 March 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai See more »

Filming Locations:

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$166,344, 5 March 2000

Gross USA:

$3,308,029

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,380,473
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Some of the cartoons the characters watch in the movie correspond to events that occur. For example, Betty Boop calling in pigeons on a rooftop in the first cartoon. Later on in another scene, Ghost dog sees a woodpecker. The next scene shows Vargo watching Woody Woodpecker. See more »

Goofs

When Louie is driving from the mansion, at several times it is obvious that he is not really driving the car. When the car is going straight ahead, he often turns the wheel, and vice versa. This is most obvious just after Vinnie has died, and Louie is asking "Vin? Hey, Vin, you with me over there?". The car is then going through a 90 degree bend in the road, but Louie does not move the steering wheel at all. 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 ...
See more »

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

Referenced in The Limits of Control (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Armagideon Time
Performed by Willie Williams
Written by Willie Williams and Coxsone Dodd (as Clement Dodd)
Published by Jamrec Publishing (BMI)
Administered by Happy Valley Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Studio One/Heartbeat Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A big surprise that really works
5 June 2005 | by philip_vandervekenSee all my reviews

Jim Jarmusch isn't exactly a household name when it comes to Hollywood directors. I don't know about other people, but personally I had heard of his name before, but certainly couldn't name any of his movies. Now that has changed. Since I've seen "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" I'll try to see at least a couple of his other movies as well, because I really liked this one.

"Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" is a quite unique movie. It tells the story of an African-American mafia hit-man in New York who lives by the rules of the Samurai, in simplicity and alone with his pigeons, who calls himself Ghost Dog and who is always faithful to his master, a local mobster who has saved his life several years ago. When the daughter of the local mob boss witnesses one of Ghost Dog's hits, he must die himself. The first victims are his birds and in response, Ghost Dog goes right at his attackers. He is lethal, but does not want to harm his master or the young woman. And while his life is in constant danger, the only people he ever has contact with are a little girl, with whom he discusses books, and a Haitian ice cream man who only speaks French and doesn't understand a word of what Ghost Dog tells him.

I guess the best way to categorize this movie is to call it a mix of the movie "Léon", the Samurai code and hip-hop culture. Normally you would think that such a mix could never work, but this time it does. I admit that it certainly isn't a normal mix, but Jarmusch avoids the traps that would make this original and daring movie a complete waste of time and which would turn it into one unbelievable and unrealistic mess. I know it sounds strange, how can a movie that combines Italian, Japanese and hip-hop culture into one ever become one solid movie? Don't ask me, I don't even know how he came up with the idea, but it works and that's all that matters.

This movie has several strong points. One is the way everything is told and shown, which make this a sober, but powerful movie. Especially with the quotes that are taken from the Way of the Samurai and that are voiced by Forest Whitaker, a solid base is formed. This helps you to understand why the man does what he does, why he lives his life like that and why he will always respect his master. If this hadn't been in the movie, I would probably not have liked it a bit. The other strong point is the acting. The mobsters look a bit stereotypical, but are well portrayed by people like Cliff Gorman, John Tormey, Richard Portnow,... but the best performance definitely comes from Forest Whitaker. Normally Whitaker plays the role of a good guy, like for instance Jody in "The Crying Game" or Captain Ramey in "Phone Boot" and it has to be said, he really has some talent for that kind of roles. But, as he proves with this movie, he is capable of a lot more. He plays the role of the samurai hit man, doesn't look like he's fit for that role at all (at least, I would never think of him when it comes to that role), but does it really very well.

As a conclusion I would like to add that the sound track is also very nice. Normally I'm not too much a fan of hip hop in the movies, although I can appreciate it as a form of music on itself, but this time it really works. Add to this some nice acting, a cool and well-written story, some funny moments (like for instance a rapping mobster) and what you'll get is a movie that is fun and interesting to watch. I give it an 8/10.


59 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 354 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed