: : : Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai

Story

Forest Whitaker makes an unlikely modern samurai with his laser-sighted pistols, shabby street clothes, and oddly graceful gait--but then Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is an unusual film. Quirky, contemplative, and at times absurd, it's just the kind offbeat vision we've come to expect from the fiercely independent Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise, Dead Man). Whitaker is Ghost Dog, a mysterious New York hit man who lives simply on a tenement rooftop and follows a code of behavior outlined in Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai (passages of this book are interspersed throughout the film). When the local mob marks him for death in a complicated code of Mafiosi-style honor, Ghost Dog sends a cryptic message to his foes. "That's poetry. The poetry of war," remarks mobster Henry Silva, with sudden respect upon reading the verse. He could be describing the ethereal beauty of Jarmusch's vision, full of wonderful imagery (a night drive across town seems to float in time) and off-center humor. Though it briefly stalls in a series of assassinations (Jarmusch is no action director), it settles back into character-driven drama in a quietly epic showdown, equal parts samurai adventure, spaghetti western, and existential crime movie. The film is likely too unconventional and offbeat for general audiences, but cult-movie buffs and Jarmusch fans will appreciate his idiosyncratic vision. He finds a strange sense of honor in the clash of Old World traditions, and salutes his heroes with a skewed but sincere respect. --Sean Axmaker

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Widescreen
  • Closed-captioned

Cast

Forest WhitakerGhost Dog
John TormeyLouie
Cliff GormanSonny Valerio
Richard PortnowHandsome Frank
Tricia VesseyLouise Vargo
Henry SilvaRay Vargo
Victor ArgoVinny
RZASamurai in Camouflage
Gary FarmerNobody

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Jim Jarmusch
  • Producer: Artisan
  • Length: 116 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJan 1, 1999
  • Ratings
    North AmericaR
    Europe15
    AustraliaMA
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaOct 21, 2003
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