Movie Review:Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

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Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai 1999tt0165798.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
  • Rate: 7.6/10 total 41,521 votes 
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Drama | Thriller
  • Release Date: 6 October 1999 (France)
  • Runtime: 116 min
  • Filming Location: Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
  • Gross: $9,380,473(Worldwide)
  • Director: Jim Jarmusch
  • Stars: Forest Whitaker, Henry Silva and John Tormey
  • Original Music By: RZA   
  • Soundtrack: Nuba One
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Dog | Samurai | African American | Ice Cream | Mafia

Writing Credits By:

  • Jim Jarmusch (written by)

Known Trivia

  • The character of Nobody is played by Gary Farmer, who also played a character named Nobody in Dead Man. He has the same line in both movies: “Stupid fuckin’ white man!”
  • When Ghost Dog introduces himself to the gangsters at the secluded hideaway, he says his name is Bob Solo, a combination of two Harrison Ford characters, Bob Falfa (from American Graffiti) and Han Solo (from Star Wars).
  • Most of the license plates visible on cars in the film read “Industrial State.” (A New York inspection sticker is visible in the windshield of a car that Ghost Dog drives, however.) When Ghost Dog swaps his plates with those of another car at a rest stop, the new, differently colored plates read “Highway State.”
  • The scene in which Ghost Dog shoots the mobster through the sink drain was taken from Seijun Suzuki’s Koroshi no rakuin.
  • The name of the pet store Ghost Dog visits is Birdland, which was the club named after Charlie Parker, whom Forest Whitaker played in Bird.
  • The club that Ghost Dog drives by before he steals his new clothes is called Liquid Sword. “Liquid Swords” is the name of The GZA’s second album, which was produced by The RZA, who also provided the original score for the film.
  • Ghost Dog and Louie have differing recollections of their first meeting. This is a reference to the story in Rashômon where people give varying accounts of the same event.
  • When Ghost Dog is in the park, just before the Raymond, the Haitian ice cream man, is introduced, the Crips in the park are rhyming to the beat of Raekwon’s 1995 song “Ice Cream,” which was produced by The RZA, who also composed the film’s score
  • The man in camouflage whom Ghost Dog meets on his way to the park toward the end of the movie is The RZA, who composed the original score for the movie.
  • The inter-chapter quotations come from the book “Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai” by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, published by Kodansha International.

Goofs: Continuity: Before killing the hunters, Ghost Dog turns off his car by turning the key in the ignition. When he stole the car, however, he used an electronic device to override the ignition.

Plot: An African American mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob. Full summary » |  »

Story: 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>  

Synopsis

Synopsis:

 

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Richard Guay known as producer
  • Jim Jarmusch known as producer
  • Diana Schmidt known as co-producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Forest Whitaker known as Ghost Dog
  • John Tormey known as Louie
  • Cliff Gorman known as Sonny Valerio
  • Dennis Liu known as Chinese Restaurant Owner
  • Frank Minucci known as Big Angie
  • Richard Portnow known as Handsome Frank
  • Tricia Vessey known as Louise Vargo
  • Henry Silva known as Ray Vargo
  • Gene Ruffini known as Old Consigliere
  • Frank Adonis known as Valerio's Bodyguard
  • Victor Argo known as Vinny
  • Damon Whitaker known as Young Ghost Dog
  • Kenny Guay known as Boy in Window
  • Vince Viverito known as Johnny Morini
  • Gano Grills known as Gangsta in Red
  • Touché Cornel known as Gangsta in Red
  • Jamie Hector known as Gangsta in Red
  • Chuck Jeffreys known as Mugger
  • Yan Ming Shi known as Kung-Fu Master
  • Vinny Vella known as Sammy the Snake (as Vinnie Vella)
  • Joseph Rigano known as Joe Rags (as Joe Rigano)
  • Roberto Lopez known as Punk in Alley
  • Salvatore Alagna known as Punk in Alley
  • Jerry Todisco known as Punk in Alley
  • Isaach De Bankolé known as Raymond
  • Dreddy Kruger known as MC in blue
  • Timbo King known as MC in blue
  • Clay Da Raider known as MC in blue
  • Dead And Stinking known as MC in blue
  • Deflon Sallahr known as MC in blue
  • Camille Winbush known as Pearline
  • Gary Farmer known as Nobody
  • Clebert Ford known as Pigeonkeeper
  • José Rabelo known as Rooftop Boatbuilder
  • Jerry Sturiano known as Lefty
  • Tony Rigo known as Tony
  • Alfred Nittoli known as Al
  • Angel Caban known as Social Club Landlord
  • Luz Valentin known as Girl in Silver
  • Rene Bluestone known as Club Couple
  • Jordan Peck known as Club Couple
  • Jonathan Teague Cook known as Bear Hunter (as Jonathan Cook)
  • Tracy Howe known as Bear Hunter
  • Harry Shearer known as Voice of Scratchy (voice) (archive footage)
  • Vanessa Hollingshead known as Female Sheriff
  • Sharon Angela known as Blonde with Jaguar
  • RZA known as Samurai in Camouflage (as The RZA)
  • Scott Bryce known as Accountant (scenes deleted)
  • Paul Diomede known as Young Gangster (uncredited)

..

 

Supporting Department

Makeup Department:

  • Clifford Booker known as hair stylist (as Cliff Booker)
  • Judy Chin known as makeup artist
  • Todd Kleitsch known as assistant special makeup effects
  • Neal Martz known as special makeup effects artist

Art Department:

  • Shirley Belwood known as assistant property master
  • Jeff Butcher known as property master
  • Bill Cassidy known as key construction grip
  • Peter DeCurtis known as set dresser (as Pete DeCurtis)
  • Susan Glod known as second scenic
  • Mario Herrera known as charge scenic artist
  • Richard S. Kamin known as construction foreman (as Richard Kamin)
  • Nathalie Leslie-Cassergrain known as art department coordinator
  • Louis Mucci known as carpenter
  • Joseph Proscia known as lead man (as Joe Proscia)
  • Danny Rovira known as construction coordinator
  • Philip Saccio Jr. known as on-set dresser (as Phil Saccio Jr.)
  • Philip Saccio known as assistant lead man (as Phil Saccio Sr.)
  • Jennifer Snoeyink known as scenic
  • Ken Sperling known as stand-by construction grip
  • Steve Swanson known as set dresser
  • Clayton Thomas known as shop production assistant (as Clayton 'Massive' Thomas)
  • Roman Turovsky known as on-set scenic
  • Thomas Hocking known as construction grip (uncredited)

..

 

Companies

Production Companies:

  • Pandora Filmproduktion (in association with)
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ARD) (in association with)
  • Degeto Film (in association with)
  • Plywood Productions
  • Bac Films
  • Canal+
  • JVC Entertainment Networks

Other Companies:

  • Balsmeyer and Everett  titles
  • Camera Service Center  camera and electric equipment
  • Canal+  foreign sales agents
  • Coast to Coast Catering  catering
  • Entertainment Partners  production payroll
  • Epic Records  soundtrack
  • Film Effects  title opticals
  • Frankfurt, Garbus, Kurnit, Klein & Selz  legal services
  • Great Northern Brokerage Services  insurance
  • Magic Lantern  publicist
  • On Location Education  tutoring: Camille Winbush
  • Post Production Playground  post-production services
  • Premiere Catering  catering
  • RPM Group  promotion and marketing
  • Republic National Bank of New York  production bank
  • Rick Bruck's Motorworks  camera car
  • Ru-Bear Security Inc.  security
  • Sony Music Soundtrax  soundtrack
  • Sound One Corporation  post-production facilities
  • T n T Casting  extras casting
  • Wescam USA  wescam provided by

Distributors:

  • Bac Films (1999) (France) (theatrical)
  • Arthaus Filmverleih (2000) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • BIM Distribuzione (2000) (Italy) (theatrical)
  • Stadtkino Verleih (2000) (Austria) (theatrical)
  • Vértigo Films (2000) (Spain) (theatrical)
  • Artisan Entertainment (2000) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Alfa Films (2000) (Argentina) (theatrical)
  • Channel Four Films (1999) (UK) (theatrical)
  • New Vision Films (2000) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • TransEuropa Films (2000) (Chile) (theatrical)
  • Asociace Ceských Filmových Klubu (ACFK) (2000) (Czech Republic) (theatrical)
  • Latina Films (2001) (Mexico) (theatrical)
  • Filmcoopi Zürich (1999-2000) (Switzerland) (theatrical)
  • Front Row Filmed Entertainment (2009) (United Arab Emirates) (DVD) (Middle East)
  • Kinowelt Home Entertainment (2000) (Germany) (video)
  • Lions Gate Films (2003) (USA) (DVD) (North America)
  • Madman Entertainment (2006) (Australia) (DVD)
  • Madman Entertainment (2006) (New Zealand) (DVD)
  • Transeuropa Video Entertainment (TVE) (2000) (Argentina) (VHS)

..

 

Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • Effects House, The
  • Film Effects

Visual Effects by:

  • John Furniotis known as optical effects
  • Don Nolan known as digital and optical effects
  • Trevor Bajus known as digital artist (uncredited)
  • Molle DeBartolo known as digital restoration artist (uncredited)
  • Dave Salter known as animation cameraman (uncredited)
  • Mark Tureski known as optical effects (uncredited)

Release Date:

  • France 18 May 1999 (Cannes Film Festival)
  • Canada 14 September 1999 (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • South Korea October 1999 (Pusan International Film Festival)
  • France 6 October 1999
  • Hungary 9 October 1999 (Titanic International Filmpresence Festival)
  • Switzerland 13 October 1999 (French speaking region)
  • Belgium 27 October 1999
  • Hungary 11 November 1999
  • Japan 27 November 1999
  • Taiwan 27 November 1999 (Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival)
  • Taiwan 4 December 1999
  • Norway 26 December 1999
  • Germany 6 January 2000
  • Italy 14 January 2000
  • Spain 14 January 2000
  • Hong Kong 27 January 2000
  • Brazil 4 February 2000
  • Poland 4 February 2000
  • USA 10 February 2000 (Pan African Film Festival)
  • Denmark 11 February 2000
  • Sweden 18 February 2000
  • Finland 3 March 2000
  • USA 3 March 2000 (New York City, New York)
  • USA 17 March 2000 (Los Angeles, California)
  • Argentina 7 April 2000 (Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema)
  • Argentina 13 April 2000
  • South Korea 22 April 2000
  • Netherlands 27 April 2000
  • UK 28 April 2000
  • Iceland 12 May 2000
  • Australia 25 May 2000
  • Uruguay 2 June 2000 (Montevideo II Festival de la Critica)
  • Israel 15 June 2000
  • Uruguay 23 June 2000
  • New Zealand 17 August 2000
  • Chile 24 August 2000
  • Czech Republic 7 September 2000
  • Egypt 4 April 2001
  • Kuwait 4 April 2001
  • Estonia 18 May 2001
  • Mexico 28 September 2001
  • USA 21 November 2003 (International Buddhist Film Festival)
  • UK 8 May 2009 (International Buddhist Film Festival)

MPAA: Rated R for strong violence and language

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Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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10 Responses Review Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

  1. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai

    * * * * Stars

    Forest Whitaker stars in this amazingly good character driven film. Whitaker
    is Ghost Dog, a New York hitman who lives by the code of the ancient
    samurai. When a job for the mob goes wrong they decide to cut their losses
    and put a hit out on him. But since he’s a samurai and not just a normal
    hitman this proves to be a huge mistake for them.

    This film really works on three levels. First is the duality of the film’s
    coolness factor and the strength of Whitaker’s performance. Whitaker
    radiates cool in this film. In every scene and every frame, through both
    action and inaction we know he is being of awesome power. His performance is
    note perfect. There’s one scene where a grievous wrong has been done and we
    see Whitaker absorb the devastation, then he narrates that when a making
    decision it should be done in the space of seven breathes. Once that
    decision is made and we realize Whitaker’s full fury will now be unleashed
    upon his enemies, it sends a tingle up the spine of the viewer. Whitaker’s
    resolve shines through the screen and through his subsequent acting the pace
    builds until we reach the film’s ultimate battle, which is a really, really
    good fight scene-one of the most satisfying ever filmed.

    Furthermore we have the film’s philosophy. This aspect of the film is the
    most important of all even more so than Whitaker’s superb performance. As
    the film’s tale unfolds we do need learn about the Way of the Samurai
    through the eastern philosophy Whitaker espouses as he narrates the film.
    Often times the film breaks from the action just to linger on the narration
    and let in sink in. It’s a technique that helps set the tone of the film and
    makes it a completely absorbing experience.

    The third thing that the film does really well is it is character and not
    plot driven. At least just as much time is spent following Whitaker through
    his day to day life as he interacts with people in his community as is spent
    on the action parts of the plot. In many ways the film works as commentary
    on the values of modern society. The scenes with Whitaker and his best
    friend, a Haitian ice cream vendor provide this film with true heart and
    soul. We see repeatedly that the two friends can understand each other
    because they are at peace with the world and in tune with their
    surroundings, so that their bond transcends mere language. Ghost Dog also
    has a touching relationship with a young girl that he hopes to impart his
    code to so that she may one day have the tools of knowledge necessary to
    escape life in the inner city. These are characters that would have been
    interesting a two-hour film just living their lives without the samurai and
    hitman aspects of the film. However both aspects work exceptionally well,
    the effect taken as a whole make this one of the best films of the past few
    years.

    Besides Whitaker and his friends, one other great performance is given by
    Tricia Vessey as Louise Vargo, the young girl that sets all that happens in
    motion. It’s a small part but a key one that she does an admirable job
    with.

    If there is a flaw with this film it is that the gangster villains are
    unnecessarily racist. These scenes are somewhat jarring on first viewing,
    but are at least consistent with the film’s ultimate tone that the
    gangster’s way of life is dying, while the code of the samurai is timeless.
    It is no coincidence that all the mobsters are much older than Whitaker.
    Both characters note numerous times that the world is changing, the
    difference is the gangsters say it with fear and trepidation, while Whitaker
    notices it as observation. Like the changing of the wind the changing of
    time and circumstance is neither good nor bad when weighed against his
    code.

    While Whitaker deserves infinite praise for his performance, almost just as
    much praise must be given to director Jim Jarmush. His directing of this
    film is quite daring and even more skillfull. His approach to the narration
    is unusual and yet it works on multiple levels and lets us this is a film
    more about tone than action. The character driven film is a rare commodity.
    Most films are plot driven moving from point A to point B with no more
    creativity than a child connecting a dot-to-dot. Here we have a film that
    starts with its characters and lets them live the lives they’ve always lived
    before the central plot elements invaded their existence. The plot is
    addressed in a timely enough manner, but we see the characters have their
    own commitments to fulfill too. It’s a hard trick to make a character driven
    film really work without seeming disjointed or slowly paced but Jarmush
    succeeds masterfully. Jarmush also fills the film with other references in
    the background that emphasize the character’s natures-such as book on bears
    or the dialogue of a few cartoons here and there. Many films of try to do
    this, but few films I have ever seen do it as well as Ghost Dog
    does.

    A final note, the ending of this film that is one that will be very
    divisive. People will either love it or hate, personally I loved it. It is
    an ending that is true to all that his come before for both the characters
    and their conflicting codes but also one that is both surprising despite
    being adequately foreshadowed.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. Men clinging to noble, outdated ideals in a world that no longer cares
    about such things: that’s the concept here. Whitaker shows amazing
    strength and control in an antihero role that is necessarily secretive
    and subdued. Silva and Tormey turn in solid performances — Tormey is
    especially poignant as the second-fiddle mafioso, torn between his
    admiration of Ghost Dog and his devotion to his own sempai (Silva).

    The excellent soundtrack, courtesy of RZA, adds its own somber-yet-hip
    mood to the work. Jarmusch frames his characters on rooftops, on ‘hood
    byways, in mansions, in the back rooms of Chinese restaurants, and
    everywhere there is a feeling of the walls closing in, of things coming
    to an end, of finality. See it. It’s a good movie.

  5. The movie is about codes of conduct, with 2 main codes that are dying
    out or are dead.

    One is the code of the Mafia the other is the Samurai.

    The basic plot is this. One of the Mafia wiseguys must be killed as he
    is having an affair with the daughter of the Mafia Don.

    The person they get to do it is an African American who lives by the
    code of the Samurai and goes by the name of Ghost Dog. To be honest, I
    have met many Japanafiles so this is not so unbelievable.

    But the code of the Mafia means that if you kill a wiseguy then you
    must be killed or the Mafia person who hired him must be killed.

    Jim Jarmusch makes movies where the characters close relations based on
    only very small things. The Mafia wiseguy saved Ghost Dogs life, so now
    he must be his retainer. He lives off the land (lives on a roof, steals
    the cars and equipment he needs to do a job). There is also a
    friendship between 2 people who don’t speak the same language. It is
    the connection between people that is so important here.

    If you saw Dead man and like it, then you will love Ghost Dog. It is
    funny, serious, dark, tragic and beautiful all at the same time. Dead
    man missed the mark with some similar themes (though the DVD of Dead
    man has some deleted scenes that would have made the movie much better
    and reflected better the idea of small connections being strong
    connections).

    I loved this movie, and I don’t expect everyone else to. Art house
    movies have small audiences for this exact reason. I know a lot of
    people who avoided this movie because they thought it was cheesy. The
    answer is, yes it is, and most of the bad reviews reflect this same
    idea.

    Also I love the sound track, with lots of Phat beats, and uses Hip Hop
    (African American culture) to reflect Japanese culture.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Basically, Jim Jarmush's best (and most accessible) film; Forrest
    Whitaker's best performance (and the best performances by a host of
    little recognized but worthy character actors), the best sound track,
    best music from the RZA; – I mean, '90's film-making just couldn't get
    better than this, and if you're having trouble understanding this, then
    read some books and see some movies, because this is a film that does
    not talk "down" to its audience, but expects us to live up to it.

    This is a film about the clash – and potential interweaving – of very
    different cultures. That the interweavings ultimately become
    untethered, is solely because we are not yet ready to live up to the
    promise of being a "multi-cultural" melting-pot that we have always
    promised ourselves we'd become…. But that doesn't give us any right
    to lose hope or stop trying.

    Ghost Dog is the spirit of this possible future. We don't have to have
    the worst of every culture, we could actually bring together the best.

    Magnificently written, shot, performed – and, despite a grim finale,
    one of the most optimistic films on this topic I've ever seen.

    It's a good book – I recommend it.

  9. This is possibly the best Indie film of the 90s. Its certainly up
    there. There are so many things I’d like to say about this film – I
    could write a dissertation! So here’s attempt, in point form:

    -The cast: All I can say is WOW! Forest Whitaker blew me away – even
    more so than he usually does.

    -Notice how the cartoons are a direct prediction or reflection of the
    scenes surrounding their viewing? And how the gangsters are all awed by
    them. An interesting connection to the cartoonish gangsters themselves
    - gangsters who are all old and have fallen into gross caricatures of
    what gangsters should be. It gets to the point where Vin praises Ghost
    Dog for sending them all off ‘like real gangsters’, implying that
    they’re fake.

    -Louis and Ghost Dog live by a similar code – except that Louis betrays
    his code in the end. Interesting how G.D. says, "me & him, we’re from
    different ancient tribes and now we’re both almost extinct." Almost
    prophetic as it leads to the High Noon style Western showdown, where
    G.D. sacrifices himself in order to remain honourable.

    -The best friend, marvelously played by Issach de Bankole, is able to
    communicate back and forth with G.D., even though neither of them speak
    the same language. Yet they always know what the other is saying.

    This is a classic samurai tale, and a classic fairy tale. A fascinating
    connection to Rashomon, featured in the film, which takes the same
    story, which changes drastically as its recounted by different
    witnesses. Yo have the sens in this film that those who are involved on
    the same plane are separated by different understandings of reality.

    You really need patience to appreciate this film and its various
    divergences. Many of the slow moments are extremely pertinent to the
    parent themes of the film. Set in Unknown, USA – which may as well be
    feudal Japan – the film breaks boundaries of communication and
    social/moral code. "The end is important in all things". 10/10.

  10. ***SPOILERS*** One strange dude this Ghost Dog, Forest Whitaker, a
    local boy from the hood who became infatuated with the Code of the
    Samurai. Throughout the movie, between episodes and shootouts, we see
    and hear Ghost Dog read to us experts from the book Hagakure about the
    mysteries of life and those who live it. As well as how to live it to
    the fullest as a Samurai Warrior.

    Having been saved from having his brains bashed out, as a teenager, by
    a gang of white hoodlums by local Mafiso Louie, John Tormey, Ghost Dog,
    a name he took up later in life,came out of nowhere to contact him four
    years later. The Ghost Dog wants to be a retainer for Louie in the
    service as him being a hit-man for the mob.

    Deadly accurate and mysterious Ghost Dog did a dozen hit jobs for
    Louie, and the mob, over the next few years. Now he was assigned to do
    in mobster Handsom Frank, Richard Porthnow, for fooling around with the
    local mob boss Ray Vargo, Henry Silva, nutty daughter Louise, Tricia
    Vessey. Catching Handsom Frank with his pants down, watching the
    cartoons on TV in his bedroom, Ghost Dog blasts him away but to the
    hit-man's surprise Louise, who was supposed to be on a bus and out of
    town, was there with him.

    Ray finding out that his daughter was in the same room where Handsom
    Frank was hit, and thus traumatized by the shooting, now want's the
    hit-man, Ghost Dog, iced for doing it. This puts Louie on the spot for
    sending Ghost Dog out to do the hit, which Ray told him to, in the
    first place. Louie not wanting his friend to be killed but at the same
    time not wanting to be killed himself for having him knock off a member
    of the "family" is forced to tell Ray that the killer of Handsom Frank
    is a local "Guy from the Hood". Farther more the mysterious hit-man
    lives in a shack on a roof with a pigeon coop as his only company. The
    mob guys go from roof to roof knocking off anyone who lives there with
    a pigeon coop that fits the hit mans description; a big black guy who
    likes birds.

    Ghost Dog coming home one evening finds his pad ripped to shreds, and
    all his precious birds killed by the mob, and it's then and there when
    he decides to teach the mob a lesson in the Code of the Samuria. The
    lesson he's to teach hem is how you don't mess with a Samurai Warrior
    and live long enough to brag about it.

    Surrilistic movie about ancient ethics in the modern world with Forest
    Whitaker as the Man as hard and tough as Samurai Steel the mystical
    Ghost Dog. John Tormey is Louie his savior and master Louie who in the
    end has to shoot it out, like in an old western movie, with Ghost Dog
    to make amends for both theirs mistakes and wrong doings in life.

    A bit deep in some places but still interesting movie with Ghost Dog
    using his brains brawn's and belief in the Code of the Samurai to do in
    the entire Vergo Mob. These two-bit hoodlum foolishly thought that he
    was an easy mark and that they would have no trouble at all to put him
    away, how wrong they were.

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