Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai


Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai

Critics Consensus

An innovative blend of samurai and gangster lifestyles.



Total Count: 95


Audience Score

User Ratings: 46,993
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Movie Info

A surreal crime drama told as only Jim Jarmusch could, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai stars Forest Whitaker as Ghost Dog, a hit man living in an unidentified but run-down city in what license plates call "The Industrialized State." Known for his gift of being able to come and go without people noticing him, Ghost Dog is a self-taught samurai who is obsessed with order and his strict personal moral code, drawn from the philosophies of the Japanese warriors. As every samurai needs a leader to whom he swears loyalty, Ghost Dog has devoted himself the service of Louie (John Tormey), a low-level crime boss who once saved his life. When Louie's superiors decide he must be executed, Ghost Dog leaps into action, methodically wiping out his many enemies. Along with a dizzying series of stylized shoot-outs, Ghost Dog also features carrier pigeons, characters who read Rashomon, a French-speaking ice cream man, and a score by RZA from the top-selling hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, who have their own well-documented obsession with Asian culture. Ghost Dog was screened in competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

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Forest Whitaker
as Ghost Dog
Gene Ruffini
as Old Consigliere
Frank Minucci
as Big Angie
Richard Portnow
as Handsome Frank
Frank Adonis
as Valerio's Bodyguard
Damon Whitaker
as Young Ghost Dog
Vince Viverito Sr.
as Johnny Morini
Yan Ming Shi
as Chinese Kung-Fu Master
Clebert Ford
as Pigeonkeeper
Angel L. Cabán
as Social Club Landlord
Tracy Howe
as Hunter No. 2
Vinnie Vella
as Sammy the Snake
Joe Rigano
as Joe Rags
Jonathan Cook
as Hunter No. 1
Vanessa Hollingshead
as Female Deputy Sheriff
Sharon Angela
as Blonde Woman
as Samurai in Camouflage
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Critic Reviews for Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai

All Critics (95) | Top Critics (27)

Audience Reviews for Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai

  • Jun 05, 2015
    Cool action and filmed well.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2013
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 07, 2012
    Now Forest Whitaker isn't the kind of guy you would normally think of for a smart ice cool hitman flick. His big lumbering appearance and droopy eye always gives him the look of a bad guy or suit type, not some ninja like assassin. But here we are in dare I say 'Leon' for a black audience? is that wrong of me? cos this sure as hell is what it is. Take the overall premise of 'Leon' and virtually copy it scene for scene and you have 'Ghost Dog' but with a nice samurai code twist. This film is actually based on a very good French film called 'Le Samouraï' which in turn also probably influenced Besson for his New York based hitman classic. Its pretty fair to say when watching that this is heavily influenced by those said films, from the hit sequences to the little girl who 'Ghost Dog' befriends but doesn't train...although that is hinted at somewhat towards the end. Personally I love this film, its could easily be a sequel to 'Leon' and moves just as sexually and gracefully including some excellent hit scenes, albeit a bit brief. The film is kinda slow and builds around 'GD' training in the art of samurai whilst living his simple life caring for pigeons. Your not really sure if your suppose to root for this guy either, he's not doing good stuff after all. He works for the mob and kills people, breaks into properties and steals cars pretty regularly, he doesn't kill innocents but nor does he care too much about them or their material possessions. Trying not to mention other films too much here but when you see the American mobsters in this it rings so many bells. The bad guys are a classic stereotypical cliched lineup of fat, aging, balding, badly dressed 70's looking rejects that could of come from any well known mafia flick you've ever heard of. I loved how they looked and spoke in that typical Nu Joisey/Nu Yawk fashion with their big tinted shades, dated tracksuits or leather coats, absolutely perfect. You could almost think of these guys as a parody really. Almost caricatures and exactly how you expect Italian American hoods to look and act with the addition of great names like 'Handsome Frank' and the all too common names of Vinny, Ray and Louie. The cast are familiar too, all the regular faces that normally play wheezing old fat mafioso's. Their boss is Henry Silva who is pretty much the perfect face for a bad guy, a mafia bad guy. The man is a character acting legend plus his face is evil looking with those sharp cheek bones and odd stretched wrinkle-less like skin complexion, no wonder he was in 'Dick Tracy'. There isn't too much action here like I said but that isn't a problem really. The film moves slow just like its main player and the outcome is resolved quite quickly really. The Japanese filling throughout is a nice touch which is obviously there because of the French film it plays homage to but it neither hinders or helps really, its just nice little touches that are pleasant to view. End of the day the samurai code doesn't really effect the film much apart from what 'GD' allows to happen. Didn't think the film needed the African American influence of rap music though, would of been nice without that, more unique really as the old gangster thing still looms somewhat. Still a unique film though can't dent that. For me the film is made with the stellar casting for the bad guys, they are really quite amusing, Whitaker does well also in his calm near silent role. A must see film if you like this kind of thing but just don't expect tonnes of action.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • May 22, 2012
    There were some interesting scenes (namely, when he shot the guy through the sink in his bathroom) but overall I didn't think it was great.
    Sarah P Super Reviewer

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