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 Dogs 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?
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I really wanted to like this movie. I really did. Forest Whitaker plays an urban Mob assassin who lives his life by the code of the Samurai. When a hit gets witnessd by the Don's Daughter, he becomes a liability, and is targeted for termination. Director Jim Jarmusch seems to be an acquired taste, and I guess I ain't acquired it. The movie is WAAAY too long, and the meager plot is padded mercilessly by rapping Mobsters, French-speaking Ice-Cream vendors, a cute kid, a shouting old man, clothing thefts, etc. The movie takes avant-garde to a whole new level, and while there were parts that I enjoyed, it was just a little too weird for me to recommend.
Talk about a long-winded piece of dung. I haven't seen anything so overlongsince Wagnerian opera. There were plot points (Ghost Dog goes to kill thisguy) that a good director could have taken in maybe five minutes, a geniusin one, but inexplicably took twenty here. It was like I was watching thiswhole movie in slow motion, for I have never seen a movie with such a highbody count bore me so thoroughly. And maybe it's just that the vastmajority of people don't understand the Eastern philosophy behind thosesamurai quotes, but the general reaction at my place was "Huh?" Nobody gotthem, and the quotes were sufficiently opaque that they may as well havebeen in "Waterworld" as this cinematic turd. And what was up with that Caribbean ice-cream vendor? Talk about anunnecessary subplot. And why were the mobsters always watching cartoons? Nobody knows. And how could the movie destroy such an interesting premise? For the same reason so many of us dislike opera: It bores us to death in amedium we don't understand.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, what a great movie. Being deep and interesting gives it the feel of an oscar worthy movie, even though it didnt win. This is definitely a classic from Jim Jarmusch. Forest Whitaker does an excellent job portraying Ghost Dog.
A superb, stylish, original film that doesn't put a foot wrong, not fora moment. There is something fluid and seamless about it. True toSamurai theme the whole film is played with a forceful restraint whichraises it well above the level of all those Tarantino wannabees --never any sense it is straining to pander to our taste for blood orgreed for the adrenalin rush (while actually providing large helping ofblood and adrenalin!) Here's a neighbourhood Mafia we can reallybelieve in! Full of wit too -- relationship between Ghost Dog and hisFrench-speaking "best friend" which shows their perfect communicationwithout a common language is so humorous. Forest Whitaker's performanceis quite beautiful -- utterly convincing, quietly stunning. Music byThe RZA is razor-edge cool, intensely exciting. Film relegates so muchof the stuff I watch to just dead wood!
This review contains slight spoilers.Ghost dog is about a lonely urban contract man.He styles himself after a Samurai and gets into a conflict with some hoods that style themselves after gangsters.This movie has some violence/shootouts and some hilarity - sometimes both at the same time, so if you liked movies like "The Boondock Saints", or "7 Psychopaths", that type of thing- you would probably enjoy this movie. The little girl playing Pearline, does a great job.The movie has a lot of cliches, but it doesn't try to take itself too seriously, so the cliches didn't bother me; I feel it is almost a send-up. For example: The scene where Sonny tries to explain the use of the name "Ghost Dog", and they wind come to a conclusion- it's obvious that Louie understands how ridiculous they are, but he can't laugh. Maybe he can't laugh because they will kill him, but maybe he can't laugh because he knows he should.I think if you could somehow combine this film - with George Clooney's "The American" you would have perfection for this Genre.
This movie is just splendid. I knew, even before watching it, that I would like it a lot. First of all, Iwas told that it's about a hitman and about his philosophy of life. Thataroused my curiosity. Then, I was told that there are two types of commentsthat viewers make after seeing the movie. Some of them say this is not thefast-paced action movie that they expected. Others say that it's not exactlythe typical Jarmush movie because it has too much action. This apparentcontradiction made me even more sure that I'll like the film. Finally, Iwatched it. It is even better than I expected!
This is an excellent movie with great actors in it. Forest Whitaker is the "Ghost Dog" who is a man that is better suited for 14th century Japan than present day New York. Whitaker follows the Bushido Code of the Samarai and is generally peaceful except for his occupation. If you get him upset, then the consequences are severe to say the least.I usually am not a fan of film noir, which I consider this film to be, however I was drawn into the plot and the acting was excellent. The quotes from the Hagakure: The Way of the Samarai, throughout the film enhance the plot. I wouldn't be a bit suprized if the "Ghost Dog" also has Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" on his shelf as well.The supporting cast is outstanding, especially Henry Silva who realizes to late what his mafia family is up against. Overall this is an axcellent film that I highly recommend.
Let me be blunt, up front: this is not Jarmusch's best movie to date.From my perspective, Dead Man (1995) still holds that honour.But, it is very good, reducing the menace of the mafia to a group ofaging and doddering half-wits whose only real claim to intelligence isthe ability to turn on or off the TV. To push the point even further,Jarmusch has them watching cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s, most ofthe time, and even in their autos. If only that were absolutely true,hmmm? Life on earth would then be a lot betterÂ and simpler, too.The basic story is not special: it's just another crack at the hit-manscenario, as Ghost Dog (Whittaker) must eliminate a mafia ganghell-bent on whacking him; and he has to do all that before theyeliminate him. Ghost Dog is special because he lives by the Samuraicode, in direct contrast to the code of the Cosa Nostra Â which, as Iindicated above, is very much mangled by Jarmusch by accentuating itsabsurdities and idiosyncrasies.And that all makes for some typically Jarmuschian comedy: over-the-topaccents and mannerisms, sight gags in abundance (just note the nose ofSonny Valerio's Cadillac sticking out from his garage, too small toaccommodate such a large auto: implication Â he's too cheap to buy abigger house!), and the limits and irony of language (Ghost Dog's bestfriend can speak French only).As a hit-man, Whittaker played a better role in Diary of a Hit-man(1991); see that one if you can because it's a better story and it's nocomedy. As Ghost Dog, however, he's shown to be as equally ruthless asany mafia assassin when necessary, but differs from them fundamentallyby reason of his rigid adherence to his code, something they cannotunderstand. As a contrast to the ineptitude of the mafia, it workswell; as a philosophy of life Â or death, if you will Â it leaves muchto be desired, of course. But then, this is just a movie...Fans of Jarmusch will recognize other traits of this great director:off-the-wall music sound track, continuous scenes of city streets withthe camera looking out from the inside of autos, oddball characters(the man building a boat on top of a roof; the two bear hunters; theattempted mugging that Ghost Dog simply watches; the samurai (RZA) inbattle fatigues he meets, greets and then passes by) appearing atseemingly random moments, and the Ice Cream vendor Â all of whichtestify to Jarmusch's fascination with cities and how people live theirordinary Â or not so ordinary Â lives, on a daily basis.Yet, it is in the ordinary that Jarmusch sees the extra-ordinary: thelittle girl Pearline (Camille Winbush) who befriends Ghost Dog and whoexchanges ideas about books with him; the Ice Cream vendor, Raymond(Isaach de Bankole) who is happy simply to sell ice cream; the boatbuilder on top of the apartment block... All beautifully done, with aspecial mention for Camille Winbush, who exhibits great acting talent.I could go on more about the quality of the cast and the many scenesthat are so typically Jarmuschian, but there is a word limit here and Idon't want to bore you. Suffice to say that the stand-out performance,for my money, goes to Cliff Gorman as Sonny Valerio: as a parody ofgangsterism, the man's a sheer genius and it's worth seeing this moviejust to let him show you how good he is.Highly recommended for all gangster film enthusiasts Â and, of course,fans of Jarmusch.
One thing that has always seem to bother about Hollywood is the way thatthey market some movies. Okay for instance, the previews for movies like"Event Horizon" or "The Way of the Gun" are totally marketed the wrong way. From the previews of "Event Horizon", they led you to expect another Alienrip-off but instead ended up being a genius freak show of a horror film. The previews for "The Way of the Gun" led you to expect a no-holds-barredaction film (this fact was helped along with Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff"playing in the background), but ended being one of the smartest crimethrillers of 2000. Now we have "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai". It'sabout Ghost Dog(the never-better Forest Whitaker) who is a modern-daysamurai and lives by himself on the roof of an old building. He is also ahit man. He kills quick and swiftly but does so by adhering to a specialcode of Samurai. Ghost Dog is often employed by a dysfunctional crimefamily. When a hit on a local mobster goes down the wrong way, a hit isordered out on Ghost Dog. When Ghost Dog gets word about this, he decidesthat he is going to fend off against the mobsters while still honoring theCode of the Samurai. The previews for this movie are extremely misleading. They lead you toexpect another "ghetto" movie but this it is not. It is actually a veryintelligent and deeply moving crime drama. There is some action, butthankfully those scenes are few and far between because this movie doesn'tneed action to deliver its message. I must admit that is what I thoughtthis movie was going to be but boy was I wrong. A simple way to categorizethis movie is just Samurai philosophy mixed in with an urban setting. Ireally like Ghost Dog's philosophies and theories about the world. He saysthat the world is changing. He is right about that. Things are getting badbut despite that, he is still able to live in peace with the world aroundhim. Special praise should go to director Jim Jarmusch. For he has createdone of the most intellectual and challenging films ever made. Forest Whitaker is perfect in this movie. I know that he hasn't been in toomany well known movies but with the exceptions Oliver Stone's "Platoon"(heplayed Big Harold) and Bill Duke's "A Rage in Harlem", you could say that hehas been quite over-looked by critics and the movie-going public. He hascharisma in this film. Ghost Dog's relationship with a Haitian ice creamtruck driver are amongst some of the best scenes in the movie. You seealthough the truck driver can't speak a word of English and Ghost Dog can'tunderstand a word he says, their relationship still works on many levels. Besides, they don't need words to play a game of chess. Some people who say that they didn't like this film, say that theyunderstand it. I admit that it is quite difficult to understand but youmust learn to see things as Ghost Dog sees them. He is not a violent personat all, but chooses to kill because it may very well be the only way he camtruly be at peace with the world. I'm sure that not even he can reallyunderstand why the crime family that has come to trust him would all of asudden want him dead. But of course, that is what this movie is primarilyabout: philosophy and the way people see things.I really like the scene where the Haitian ice cream truck driver reads thebear book. The one passage he reads:"The bear is a solitary animal, adaptable to all sorts of climaticenvironments and foods. In groups, they share food when quantities areabundant despite their limited social interaction. The bear is formidableadversary with no predatory instincts at all. But when surprised or woundeda bear may attack and becomes very dangerous." In many ways this describesGhost Dog. He is solitary, can do whatever he wants despite being byhimself all the time and is only dangerous when he feels threatened. ***SPOILER*** The scene where he kills the two bear hunters and Ghost Dogexplains what bears meant to ancient cultures I think is meant to exhibithis nature and his beliefs. "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" certainly is not a film that is to bemissed by anyone. Everyone needs to see this film regardless of whether ornot you are a fan of these kinds of movies. 10/10
I watched this movie expecting nothing, and left feeling nothing. Themovieis supposed to be about some guy who took up the Samurai way, but if thereis ever a movie that belittles violence and glamorizes it, this is theone.(Discussion of the plot follows here.)Just because someone saved his life, this main character goes around andkills people for him, and gets paid for the gangland murders. He meets agirl who he introduces to the way of the samurai. What's the point? Thereisno moral, and for those who say they don't care, I say: what is art? Ifjustfilming the (fictional though realistic) killing of lots of people is art,then I want none of it. What is the difference between liking a movie withlots of senseless murders, and liking some historical figures who did thesame?
When a movie maker is as controversial as Jarmusch, one has to take sides. Or ignore him, as I did for a long time. Now not any longer, after watching a few of his very special gems.Ghost Dog, in summary, sounds like a standard action or mob film. The title hero, Whitaker, is a black hit man in New York, working for the mob with a special personal bond of loyalty to one the mobsters, not the top guy. He gets entangled in a complicated farce of an honor issue of the senile and ridiculous gangsters that dominate the film. The top mobster, a ghost- like Henry Silva, decides that the hitman must be killed.Ghost Dog has self-styled himself as a samurai, and he follows the code as he sees it from a book that he reads on his roof, where lives with his carrier pigeons. He fights back with restraints of loyalty.Those who take the film as a normal action film will be disappointed. It is an absurd farce on the genre, with great dialogues and cinematography. It is packed with cinema allusions, some explicit like the High Noon show down at the end, many others less blatant. Great fun.
!Review contains Spoiler!Being a long time Jarmusch fan I went to the theatre with almost completefaith in the quality of this film. Jarmusch is one of the few filmmakersthat have a profound creativeness that never lacks originality, freshness,charm, beauty, poetry, skill, talent etc. Having this said, I have nearlyrevealed what I am about to express about the latest creation of JimJarmusch. "Ghost Dog: The way of the Samurai" is a very good andinterestingfilm, very similar to the way Jim chooses to depict pieces of life, so tospeak. I found it, however, to be a bit too predictable in the smallscenes,the details. (Not the whole plot, as the plot was very obviously neverintended to be surprising.) Jim's uniqueness and greatness lies in hisvision for the importance of trivial activity, in my opinion, thisgreatnesswas present in this dramatisation, far greater than practically all oftoday's other cherished filmmakers, not, however, as present as I desired,when it comes to Jarmusch. The story, the theme, of this movie was veryexciting, I found Ghost Dog's behaviour very mysterious and strange yetverybeautiful and understandable. His deep devotion towards the ancientsamuraiphilosophy was extraordinary as it rang very reasonable. How and why wecometo submit ourselves to teachings in general was what I found this moviewastrying to dig further into, very interesting, very funny indeed, and verybeautiful, as always.
So many people believe that if they watch a film, it has to give you a pointthat is obvious and it has to be there to entertain with gratuitousviolence or comedy. Commonly accepted classics such as 2001: A Space Odysseyand Full Metal Jacket (both Stanley Kubrick films) are laden with theirinner messages and entertain in a different way. Film is a powerful medium, and of course to use it to its fullest potentialis something that must be applauded, as has been done by Kubrick. Ghost Dog:Way of the Samurai is not a popcorn-and-Coke movie that you can watch with afew mates for a laugh. It is understandable that some would be disappointedwith the film if they had expected this. Rather, it explores issues andcharacters, not plot elements and good vs bad scenarios.Ghost Dog is a character film, where the film explores the people anddiscovers what makes them the way they are. This means that Ghost Dog is notfor everyone - it doesn't entertain with the violence and the 'cool moves'.Rather, it explores one man's journey to become a true samurai in moderntimes, relating his actions and the actions of others against thetraditional codes.It is east vs west and so much more. The peripheral actions and items (eg.cartoons, comic books etc) reflect on the characters themselves and theirmentalities. The smallest things around the characters allows us to 'see'what their true thoughts are like and how they act. The French-speakingice-cream vendor? The boat? The overt love of pigeons? Think about whatthese mean instead of dismissing them like a sauce stain on agarment.To watch a film like Ghost Dog takes concentration, patience and time forconsideration. To say it is 'crap' with so much ease is to be uninformed andimpatient. Perhaps take the time and effort to see beyond the groovypictures on the screen and think about the message being delivered tous.
This seemingly simple picture arouses all the emotions and holds your interest from beginning to end.
Spoiler Alert: It never gets better. It is a rarity among terriblemovies in that it cannot be enjoyed even for its badness.Don't be fooled, folks. It looked terrible, it sounded terrible, andyet, because it enjoyed mostly positive reviews,this viewer wasbetrayed into giving it an undeserved benefit of the doubt. Trust yoursenses. You will not like this movie.As a few complaints in evidence of its awfulness, I will mention thatthe film is replete with trite platitudes, faux-symbolism, and nevermanages to be funny when it attempts to be. If there is one redeemingquality to this film, it is that I need not see it again.
Ghost Dog has it all, and leaves out the unwanted. There is no Ditzy female to contend for the camera with, and plenty of action. The story is based on the writings of the Samurai Code, and implements certain scenes using these edicts. The gangsters are very down to earth, being both flawed and cold hearted. If you love a movie that makes you think, and maybe a need to watch it more than once, this is for you. I have several favorites in this movie, and there is tongue in cheek humor to keep you from taking this too serious. Forrest Whitaker is very underrated in this movie, his character is well played, from the scared youth in the alley, to the defiant man in the final scene. I cannot stress enough how much this movie stirs something inside me, and it is a must have.
I am a die hard Wu-Tang fan because their world is so complexly layeredas it incorporates mostly urban Black American, east Asian, and ItalianAmerican mafia culture as does this film. That is why their music isriveting as is this film. Everything about this film points to the Wu,the fact that it has a score composed by RZA, the soundtrack containingRaekwon, Method Man and the Ol Dirty Bastard. The dialog is somethingsimilar to what Quentin Tarantino may write. As the world of hip hop isslowly dying I hope that the Clan is still reaching out and providingtheir influence on the youth that need it the most. This is the way ofthe Shogun. Cash Rules Everything Around Me.
"Ghost Dog" is one of the most thoughtful, profound, and well-put-togetherfilms I've seen. It combines ideas about the disintegrating nature of theworld we live in, death, honor, and fidelity to principles with humor andsome of the most beautiful editing and cinematography in recent memory.Forest Whittaker, one of the most underrated actors around, is astounding inthe title role of Ghost Dog, a "loner" who lives by his own anachronisticcode of honor . . . which of course isolates him almost completely from thewretched world he finds himself trapped in. There are frequent andfascinating quotations from the book Hagakure, Code of the Samurai (as soonas I exited the theatre, I ordered the book). The Sergio Leone-liketechnique of lighting the actors' faces to reveal every flaw, wart and sagenhances the somber mood of the film. A feeling of the sadness of the lossof values and meaning in life illuminates every scene, and glows inWhittaker's soulful face. The cinematography manages to make Jersey Citylook poignantly beautiful, no small feat! If you like your movies to give you a hell of a lot to think about, andalso be flawlessly put together, "Ghost Dog" is a must. I plan to see it fora second time, very soon, because sadly I doubt if it will find the audienceit deserves.
Jim Jarmusch is, in my eyes, a contemporary genius of cinema. Hismovies never fail to bowl me over, drawing me into stories that areboth entertaining and complex. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai is nodifferent.The film follows the journey of a young hit-man, Ghost Dog, brilliantlyplayed by Forest Whitaker, who is betrayed by a dysfunctional Mafiafamily after a bungled hit. Although it sounds pretty generic, the filmis filled with thought-provoking questions. We begin to analyse our ownmoral and philosophical beliefs as Ghost Dog analyses his. If thisdescription sounds fairly pretentious, that's probably because it is.When a film is trying to be this philosophical there are going to besome rather conceited moments. That said however, these are few and farbetween. For the most part, the film is emotional, powerful andintelligent.But the really great part about Ghost Dog, is the fact that it nevertakes a clear path. Jarmusch explores an interesting duality whendealing with his protagonist's unswerving loyalty. On the one hand,Ghost Dog's obsession with tradition leads to his own personaldownfall. However, on the flip-side of the coin, it is this loyaltythat sets him apart from the rest of us. Sure he suffers as a result,but in the end isn't Ghost Dog a better man than most of us?Even the film's tag-line exemplifies this duality: live by the code,die by the code. Aren't they both as important as each other?Now I've rambled for a bit, I implore you to go see this movie. Itmight change the way you think about Jim JarmuschÂ but it might not.Either way, see what you think. Give Ghost Dog a try.
I liked this movie for the most part but it was the ending that put me off. I really did not want to see Ghost Dog die in that way, at the hands of a white man who did not understand him or his philosophy. I wish that Forrest Whitaker's character could have shown more determination to fight and survive, with more of what the samurai author of Hagakure would have called "martial valor". But then isn't it the juxtaposition of the cold, efficient samurai code with this gentle, somewhat bemused giant part of what makes the film interesting? Come to think of it, the samurai were more concerned with an honourable death than with mere survival. A better ending, at least for me, would have had Ghost Dog choosing, at the very last moment, to survive rather than follow the samurai code into the grave.