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Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Forest Whitaker , Henry Silva , Jim Jarmusch  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Forest Whitaker, Henry Silva, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman, Dennis Liu
  • Directors: Jim Jarmusch
  • Writers: Jim Jarmusch
  • Producers: Jim Jarmusch, Diana Schmidt, Richard Guay
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: August 14, 2001
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005QCVX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,204 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Deleted Footage
  • 30 minute special feature "The Odyssey: Journey Into the Life of a Samurai"
  • Music Video

Editorial Reviews

Forest Whitaker, John Tormey. A Mafia hit man lives strictly by the rules of the samurai in this visually stunning film by Jim Jarmusch. 2000/color/116 min/R.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect In Every Way September 24, 2003
After seeing all of Jim Jarmusch's films, I have to admit not a single one of them is easy to watch. All of them are boring and slow, but I love them anyway. Unlike all his earlier work, Ghost Dog is easily accessible yet still definitely a "Jim" movie.

The subtle beauty of this movie is quickly realized within the first few minutes of the film. The start of this film is much like his earlier works, usually showing a run down part of a town with music playing overtop. They seem to be the only shots he uses that have panning and movement with the camera. After knowing his work, you realize this is because he hates showing the audience what to look at. It is just one of the few things Jarmusch does that makes him the best. But, back to the music. Of all the soundtracks that he has had in the past 20 years, I must admit this one is the best. He allows RZA (from Wu Tang Clan fame) to add music that enhances every scene, which is different from what he normally does. These tracks are all awesome, varying from an outright Gangsta Rap song to the weirdest jazz ever created.

The rest of the movie is beautiful in every way. Jarmusch once again uses poetry to create visuals that go along with his beautiful dialogue. This movie probably has the most dialogue of any of his movies, yet it still isn't much. There are things that take getting used to and seem like they are not important to the plot, but for some reason they are just really great scenes. A good example of this is the scene when Ghost Dog and his Haitian friend (who knows why Jarmusch made him not be able to communicate with his best friend?) are watching a man build a boat in an alley for no apparent reason.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I do not expect most people to like "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" as much as I did because I do not think most viewers are going to be as willing to accept the black comedy aspects along with the philosophical musings and sporadic blood shed. In fact, I think a lot of people will find the mixture rather strange, but at least compelling if not outright provocative. Writer-director Jim Jarmusch is able to pull this off because he has Forest Whitaker in the title role and when he admits on one of the special features that he would have abandoned the project if Whitaker had passed on "Ghost Dog" you know he is absolutely right.

You willingness to take this film on at face value is tested by the premise. Once upon a time a mid-level Mafiaso named Louie (John Tormey) came upon a couple of guys beating the crap out of a young black man (Damon Whitaker). When the guys take exception to Louie's interruption, he blows them away. We are told that some time later the young black man comes to Louie and declares himself to be in debt; calling himself Ghost Dog, he becomes a contract killer for Louie, although he calls himself a loyal retainer. Ghost Dog follows the way of the samurai, which is laid out in the book "Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai." But where the book enters the picture is unclear. If he was reading it before the assault then he should have been able to disptach those two guys; he certainly does well against everybody else in this film. But perhaps it was afterwards.

The key thing to understand is that Ghost Dog is a Don Quixote figure, both in terms of following a creed long forgotten by the world in which he lives but also because he is certifiably crazy.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Warriors June 25, 2000
Jim Jarmusch, idiosyncratic warrior and independent filmmaker extraordinare, has made another film that falls, both stylistically and thematically, into the director's long line of culture clash, fish-out-of-water comic dramas. It is an offbeat crime comedy that, for the most part, follows the genre's rules according to plot (most of it is straight out of Le Samourai), but adds its own spin with oddball subplots, allusions, and touches (all bearing the imprint of their director). The film bears a number of similarites, in fact, with Jarmusch's previous fictious work, the surreal, deadpan Western Dead Man, except Ghost Dog is much more accessible to mainstream audiences.
Forest Whitaker, in a role written specifically for him, plays the title character with the quiet elegance, dignity, and grace of an early Charlie Chaplin. (Johnny Depp also comes to mind for his performances in the aforementioned Dead Man and Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands.) Ghost Dog is an old-fashioned samurai, and hit man, stuck in an ever-changing world. (perhaps much like director Jarmusch and his ever-fading romantic worldview and optimism). He lives on the roof of a buiding, feeds pigeons, and keeps mainly to himself. His relationships with a French ice cream vendor(think Night On Earth) and a young girl (similar to that in Pi) are priceless. The light humor sprinkled throughout adds much interest to the proceedings. Much of it comes at the expense of the helpless Italian mobsters in the film. Perhaps Jarmusch's only failure is not developing some of his secondary characters beyond their stereotypes.
The DVD appears to warrant a purchase (I have mine on pre-order) for its deleted scenes, documentary, and isolated music score.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie!
Definitely needs a new title. If I hadn't seen a preview of the movie, I would never have bought the DVD because of the silly title. Good movie!!!
Published 9 days ago by hutch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
in good condiction
Published 14 days ago by Ms. Linda Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebel with a cause
An amazing movie. Many times in life we forget those times when we were helped out of a bad situation. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Joseph F. Clinton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed this movie, but it is a low budget film.
Published 28 days ago by MikeTHXearth
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I'm a big fan of Jim Jarmusch, the director and this is very good. Forest does an excellent job, the juxtapostion between his focused following of the samarai and the cartoon... Read more
Published 1 month ago by F. Mackenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't mess with Forest.
This was an unusual movie for Forest Whittaker. It was very well portrayed. I liked it.
Published 1 month ago by JEROME
4.0 out of 5 stars A sort of Quixote
This is one of Jim Jarmusch’s best movies and he is a fine original film maker.
With Jarmusch you must expect to be surprised but you can be sure you will have fun. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John G. Tusler
5.0 out of 5 stars when debt of blood , justice and revenge meet.
The title is reminescent of an martial arts film , as the actor has a ninja like posture on poster . Read more
Published 4 months ago by sunrise
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest Whitaker
Anytime you get to watch him on the so. He is a powerful actor, this isn't his best work, but he is amazing to watch.
Published 4 months ago by Felicia L. Newton
1.0 out of 5 stars Morally reprehensible: a repulsive glorification of a psychopath
Also repulsive: most reviews of the film -- as if the assassin being black vindicates him, as if the fascination with style over content justifies this film's existence and the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by 4jyelg93
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