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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

1999
Drama
Crime
1h 56m
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... (imdb)
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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

1999
Drama
Crime
1h 56m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 62.06% from 3835 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(3835)
Compact view
Compact view
Rated 14 Aug 2007
97
98th
People expecting action will be disappointed, people looking for a meditative piece will be rewarded.
Rated 14 Jun 2007
85
73rd
Serene, understated, a mixing of cultures and codes, it's a great indie drama.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
100
99th
Deliberate slow-paced movie that incorporates a lot of old movie styles. The rap soundtrack is perfect, the Ice Cream Man is hilarious, and I just love the feel of this movie. But it's not for everybody.
Rated 24 Jan 2009
8
82nd
Could've easily been one of the most ridiculous movies ever made but instead is so damn cool that it becomes impossible to not love it. When you got The RZA "shaping the tracks," as GZA would say, your movie is destined to be good. I loved his cameo too. Visually creative and overall rewarding.
Rated 31 Jan 2022
90
83rd
Jarmusch pictures are indies full of cultural collisions and repurposing foreign films for American moviegoers. Here, he gives audiences the former with a Black hitman embodying samurai philosophy while working for the mafia. The latter comes via thanking Kurosawa and liberally borrowing plot points from Le Samouraï. Forest Whitaker is awesome as a loner hero with a code; he's sort of a pre-cursor to Omar from The Wire. And it all smartly avoids an over-the-top hip-hop style. Highly recommended.
Rated 18 Nov 2008
97
95th
Wu-Tang Clan's 36 Chambers in a form of movie?
Rated 05 Jul 2021
80
77th
Forest Whitaker plays that guy you went to high school with who bought an $89 samurai sword at the mall and made it his whole identity.
Rated 12 Aug 2014
95
91st
There's a lot to love here, and I love it all. From the fantastic RZA score, to the well executed and original genre-fusing of gangster and samurai flicks (including the fable-like execution of the latter) all topped off with Jarmusch's typical minimalism. As much an exercise in contemporary wisdom as style: a post-modern masterpiece.
Rated 01 Jan 2008
84
83rd
A different kind of gangster movie by Jarmusch. Although it sounds stupid, Whitaker is a really convincing black modern samurai.
Rated 29 Sep 2008
95
97th
Something which manages to escape it's own genre quirks and become truly outstanding, transcendent even.
Rated 29 Dec 2009
75
81st
It's like "Leon," only better in every way. This was my first Jarmusch and I really can't wait to see what else he has done.
Rated 21 Feb 2010
70
56th
There's an interesting theme here to explore but it seems like the film has a bit too much fun with the kitsch of this genre. The tone alternates between being a camp mafia film to a pseudo-spiritual Samurai quoting Forest Whitaker. The film doesn't fall apart from it all but it really abuses its own quirkiness. There's some inspired homage scenes and a nice soundtrack but all in all it's pretty average. It exists as a nice piece of indie stylized fluff but nothing more.
Rated 16 Feb 2007
60
62nd
Good film.
Rated 17 Mar 2007
70
39th
Charming. I like how the film simultaneously IS a mafia movie and makes fun of mafia movies, especially in how incompetent and lame the mobsters are. The film certainly owes a whole lot to Le Samouraï and other seminal works, but I think it manages to stand on its own. I can't say it ever really got through to me, though. I think my appreciation of the film might increase after repeat viewings.
Rated 27 Sep 2019
80
77th
Ghost Dog is serene, not sleepy, stylish and even cool, and has enough going on that I’m sure repeat viewings would be rewarding.
Rated 09 Jul 2007
44
16th
no good at all.
Rated 15 Jan 2009
97
73rd
well - the original content - Samourai by Melvil i like more but this one is superb too. Out-of-time criminals and out-of-time artist/samurai.
Rated 03 May 2009
85
82nd
This is a great action film involving eastern values with western culture. Parts of it are a little slow, but it picks up when it needs too. Acting is stellar, music is cacthy and fits well where it is placed. I personally like the use of Rashomon here, and how it explains its usefullness to the goings on of the film. Jim Jarmusch's films are mixed bags, but this one works and works really well.
Rated 29 Jan 2022
89
82nd
It would be an easy 90, but the mobsters are too much of caricatures. How many directors can pull such a poetic and spiritual film about a black, big-boned hit man? With distinct, subtle humour and interesting characters, this feels like one of the old Japanese stories, translated into suburban environment. Oh, and Ghost Dog is the coolest motherfucker.
Rated 28 Feb 2020
77
53rd
Offbeat and eccentric hybrid of mafia and samurai sensibilities (bringing to mind Pollack's THE YAKUZA) is an interesting, sometimes frustrating Jarmusch effort which is nevertheless tied together by a typically solid and deeply felt Whitaker performance, and a rogues gallery of tough guys in support. Difficult to understand what the overarching "point" is of telling this story in this particular way, but still engaging and enjoyable.
Rated 20 Mar 2007
70
41st
Interesting movie that is well acted by Forrest Whitaker.
Rated 02 May 2007
95
94th
A funny, borderline philisophical/existentially artsy version of Leon:The Professional that was my first exposure to Jarmusch. It's tender and humorous displaying a full range of Jarmusch's gifts as a director of action, comedy and drama.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
10
2nd
Different with some laughs & interesting moments. The rest of the time we get to watch Forrest's expressionless face listen to rap CD's & drive around in fancy new cars. Outrageously stupid & boring.
Rated 20 Jul 2019
80
54th
A descent combination of Le Samouraï and Léon: The Professional
Rated 14 Aug 2007
0
0th
DAMN YOU JIM JARMUSCH WHY MUST YOU TAUNT ME BY CONTINUING TO MAKE MOVIES! A film for people who enjoy waching grass grow or paint dry.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
93
98th
When I bought this movie I found it under the "Totally Awesome" section. True story.
Rated 09 Jul 2018
65
45th
Not a bad film. Light afternoon viewing.
Rated 18 May 2014
92
96th
Just as awesome as I remembered it from 10 years ago.
Rated 09 May 2017
70
56th
This is probably my favorite Jarmusch film, but I'm not a huge fan of his really. Whitaker is awesome here.
Rated 08 Jun 2009
75
86th
Nice Movie
Rated 29 Jun 2009
7
70th
I like the way Ghost Dog was in the bit of the Le Samourai mold but went above that and didn't stick to the cold nature of Melville's film.
Rated 23 Oct 2009
96
97th
OK, I was really stoned when I saw this in the theater but, well, it blew my mind actually.
Rated 29 Nov 2009
78
93rd
Artsy, stylish, interesting and fun film. Or simply the Jim Jarmusch film.
Rated 18 Dec 2009
83
56th
Entertaining small film with an excellent performance by Forrest Whittaker.
Rated 06 Mar 2014
90
92nd
Very enjoyable, beautifully knitted together high and low-brow references, and brilliant performances.
Rated 17 Feb 2021
90
96th
Jim Jarmusch's detached, self-aware style, applied to a genuine love for the great tradition of samurai films regardless of decade or country, creates an almost mythical aura of spirituality. Characters come and go arbitrarily: sometimes without saying a single word, other times speaking only in another language, or drifting in from another film entirely ("stupid fucking white man"), yet everything feels deliberate and in tune with a higher power.
Rated 19 Oct 2010
84
72nd
Really funny and weird and cool.
Rated 12 Dec 2020
80
78th
Peculiar black comedy riffing off an odd mix of Le Samourai and Goodfellas. There are a lot of quirky stylistic choices that will turn many people off. I really enjoyed this, perhaps because of those choices, including the nods to Rashomon, the McGyver-like tech wizardry, and the carrier pigeon service.
Rated 08 Sep 2011
5
3rd
An utter bore. The music is horrible (and I like hip hop -- the hip hop in this film is awful though), the cinematography is terrible, and the story is asinine. The dialog is pointless as are most of scenes. It's like the movie was made by some high school kid who likes Wu Tang but also want to seem artistic so inserts random quotes from an eastern culture he pretends to understand. How could this possibly be considered a comedy? It's been quite a while since I've seen a film this bad.
Rated 26 Dec 2011
88
94th
A great underrated film. I was surprised at not hearing more about this film after I watched it. A great performance by Forest Whitaker.
Rated 25 Oct 2020
66
54th
I wanted more Gary Farmer!
Rated 30 Aug 2014
70
78th
A critique of tribalism and killing for killing's sake, set in a world increasingly bereft of "ancient" things like honor and morality.
Rated 27 Mar 2022
75
74th
A black hitman working for the mafia lives his life according to the code of Bushido. Feels a bit like a comic book, with it's over the top gangsters and surreal moments of calm between the violence. It's Jarmusch, so it meanders down all kinds of little narrative alleys where you wouldn't expect, some of which are great (the changing flashbacks), some of which are not (the little girl in the park). Forest Whitaker is excellent but clearly could've used a little more training with his sword.
Rated 24 May 2012
86
85th
A contemplative, deliberate film (as one expects from Jarmusch) that draws from blaxploitation cinema, samurai films, Westerns, and mob movies, forming a more seamless whole than one would expect. Some great composition and an equally contemplative RZA score. I can't say I understood all of it, but I certainly enjoyed all of it.
Rated 25 Jul 2023
8
78th
Wears its influences on its sleeve and loses its momentum ever so slightly due to repetition. In the end, it manages to stand on its own as a fun and idiosyncratic crime drama, thanks to a combination of style, humor and memorable characterisation. Some of its cultural related context flew over my head but I feel it's a film that will most likely benefit from repeat viewings
Rated 12 Nov 2012
70
67th
This is another really cool film from director Jim Jarmusch. My favourite thing about it was the mesh of different cultures. They all worked surprisingly well together. Forest Whitaker was brilliant, of course, and there were a couple of other performances I really enjoyed too. I recommend it, but it's not everyone.
Rated 04 Jan 2020
79
66th
A weird one, a violent gangster flick directed by an art-house director. The tone is so strange. Ghost Dog is supposedly this unkillable ninja, but Whitaker plays him like a neighbourhood simpleton. Somehow it manages to work, in a comic-book way, despite looking amateurish in loads of ways.
Rated 29 Nov 2012
77
87th
Better than "Better than "Le Samourai". My favorite Jarmusch movie along with "Night On Earth".
Rated 30 Apr 2007
3
45th
Intelligent, creative, and a lot of fun. There's tons of sheer badassery going on, and it's all very stylized. But the offbeat sense of humor not only lightens the mood a bit, it serves to keep the whole movie pretty unpredictable. Amazingly, it never leans too far toward one side, avoiding becoming a simple, cheesy action flick or comedy. Jarmusch's narrative creativity is matched in aesthetics, and though it does feel pretty obviously low-budget, the effort put to work is equally apparent.
Rated 11 Jul 2007
3
61st
Forest Whitaker steals it. I find myself saying that a lot about Forest Whitaker these days.
Rated 03 Aug 2007
70
26th
God damn you, Jim Jarmusch. This movie should have been cool.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
80
39th
brilliant film
Rated 14 Aug 2007
86
82nd
A very philosophical film. Forest Whitaker plays the role of Ghost Dog to perfection under the artistic direction of Jarmusch.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
89
69th
It's a bit silly at times, but overall is very good. Forrest Whitaker carries this movie.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
96
95th
Fabulous movie, this isn't an action movie. Don't let the name fool you, it's much deeper and intelligent than any action movie can aspire to be.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
87th
Strange and good movie. Completely out of left field. I really liked it.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
82
67th
Forest Whitaker is a fantastic actor that deserves more roles like this. A black Powerful movie with great acting all around. I didn't care for the score, but Whitaker's samurai hit man is one of the most unique charecters in the past twenty years.
Rated 14 Sep 2007
88
94th
I don't know what it is about a gangster samurai that is so appealing, but this movie was awesome.
Rated 02 Dec 2007
90
35th
Spiritual gangster film around an urban samarai. Unique, engaging story. Whitaker is awesome in this film.
Rated 30 Dec 2007
94
86th
The perfect Wu-Tang movie.
Rated 22 Feb 2008
70
78th
Did you just say he contacts you through a bird? Did I just hear you say that?
Rated 01 Mar 2022
90
94th
"Paterson" has been a modern favorite of mine and so it was awesome to find that Ghost Dog was essentially its spiritual predecessor (which I know sounds absurd if you were to have read both synopses). A movie about code, integrity and transcendence.
Rated 19 May 2008
75
0th
Nice movie. A bit boring ending.
Rated 02 Jun 2008
87
90th
An intelligent, simple film.
Rated 14 Jun 2008
55
52nd
More Tricia Vessey please
Rated 11 Jul 2008
72
63rd
An original and interesting look at a supposedly kind-hearted hitman. The French ice cream seller was a great touch.
Rated 26 Jul 2008
70
41st
Well, it's an interesting mix and kind of shows the similarities between being a gangster and samurai. Funny at times. I like Rza a lot and he did the music and the music was oddly fitting, most of the time. Good script. But I wanted to enjoy it more than I did.
Rated 27 Jan 2009
63
31st
I KNOW Jarmush has huge props with the arthouse gang, but really, this is nothing but a standard hitman-movie with some moments of pretenting to be something more.
Rated 03 Feb 2009
20
29th
I don't think I've ever seen any film dedicated to trying so hard. The soundtrack is good and works well but the editor ought to be shot. Worth noting I didn't like the film this is based on, that might have hurt.
Rated 24 Feb 2009
90
86th
It turns out Jim Jarmusch can do action, too... and better than most other people, at that. Thoughtful yet exciting, a rare quality for a film to have (not to mention the quality of the ability to see this movie with a very upscale audience or a very black audience when it was in general release :-) ). Those of you who are fans of _The Boys in the Band_ will undoubtedly appreciate seeing Cliff Gorman here as a mafioso
Rated 07 Jul 2009
5
96th
Me and him, we're from different ancient tribes. Now we're both almost extinct. Sometimes you gotta stick with the ancient ways, the old school ways. I know you understand me. ------ my love...my love...my love
Rated 19 Jul 2009
83
88th
Brilliant, well written and great acting. Not your typical hollywood movie which is definitely a bonus.
Rated 16 Aug 2009
78
56th
Jim Jarmusch has a weird way of telling stories, however this one is really funny at times. It is definitely way more watchable than "Dead Man".
Rated 18 Aug 2009
100
76th
Fantastic movie. Goes to show what you can do with an amazing idea and shoe string budget.
Rated 19 Aug 2009
80
27th
Just saw it. If you can, see it once, it's pretty okay.
Rated 16 Feb 2017
50
29th
Spends too much time detailing it's plot. Terrible whenever Whitaker isn't in a scene.
Rated 24 Oct 2009
8
76th
Me and him, we're from different ancient tribes. Now we're both almost extinct. Sometimes you gotta stick with the ancient ways, the old school ways. I know you understand me. LOUIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEYYY. I liked it ^_^. Forest Whitaker is the premier black actor. And the soundtrack by the RZA is awesome.
Rated 21 Nov 2009
65
14th
A mood piece that never really takes off.
Rated 12 Dec 2009
67
61st
Typically original (though sometimes pretentious) Jarmusch mix of mysticism, action, and even comedy, anchored by Whitaker's quiet, intense performance. Very bloody at times.
Rated 16 Mar 2010
85
63rd
The film was very good but it felt a lot like Le Samouraï by Melville.
Rated 02 Jun 2010
30
13th
Carrier pigeons only know how to find their way home from any random location... Think about that while you're watching this.
Rated 10 Jun 2010
100
90th
A brilliant soundtrack; a wonderful, if slightly bizarre, variety of themes (samurai, hip-hop, mafia, hitman...); a variety of moods (at times sombre, funny, exciting...); great characters (samurai hitman, mobsters, ice cream seller...); an interesting story; and a slow pace which allows you to relax, take in all the details, and enjoy the music.
Rated 26 Jun 2010
63
22nd
Jarmusch gives Ghost Dog a number of "cool" quirks, like training messenger pigeons and having a best friend who only speaks French. Despite its hip veneer and calculated badassery, it still manages to be a fairly entertaining movie. Ghost Dog is a likable character, and his various situations can be interesting. And RZA's score is pretty good. I just can't help but think it would be much better in the hands of someone who didn't take it so damn seriously.
Rated 11 Feb 2017
21
63rd
Gangster life as one big cosmic joke.
Rated 24 Dec 2013
65
35th
Funny, sporadically amusing, but for me it never came together as completely as some of Jarmusch's other films. The film feels less cool and more trying to be cool, in particular with its straining for profundity via readings from Ghost Dog's book The Way of the Samurai, or the rap based soundtrack (it doesn't help either that this sort of music is completely opposite to my tastes). Ultimately I left the film wanting something more, but it was funny and that was enough to keep my interest.
Rated 25 Oct 2010
80
75th
entertaining as hell with a great sense of deadpan humor. strong performance by whitaker, a very fun alternative take on crime.
Rated 17 Dec 2010
85
86th
Passed this movie 1,000 times at the movie store. What was I thinking?? Gangsta Pigeons!
Rated 10 Jan 2011
80
36th
I really like this movie. I think it's a poem, a cinepoem. I knew Jim Jarmusch by this film. Also Forest Whitaker is fantastic.
Rated 25 Apr 2024
89
88th
I could sit down to watch this on pretty well any occasion just to enjoy the vibes and mood. It's such an eccentric, funny, mysterious and atmospheric gem. RZA's soundtrack is an all-timer.
Rated 23 Dec 2016
8
71st
There's no shortage of stories about code-bound warriors being face with the extinction of their culture, but Jarmusch makes it feel fresh again by replacing feudal lords with mafia dons, and by applying a fusion of Eastern and hip-hop philosophy popularized by Wu-Tang (and by getting RZA to produce a dope score, no less.)
Rated 23 Sep 2011
80
77th
Great movie - something different.
Rated 09 Oct 2011
80
69th
Sometimes it takes itself too seriously, it's best when it's not doing that. RZA doesn't give his best work.
Rated 15 Oct 2011
88
88th
This is one of the coolest films of all time. Whitaker kicks ass, the score is great, the dialogue is sharp and the action is fantastic. Probably the most accessible Jarmusch.
Rated 24 Oct 2011
83
37th
Second viewing after a few years. Enjoyed a lot. Still find those little Jarmusch touches annoying but a good meditation, if you will, on what it might mean to apply ancient traditions to modern day crime-ridden life.
Rated 04 Apr 2012
75
52nd
Interesting story, well scored.
Rated 01 May 2012
90
80th
Another great Jim Jarmusch film. The guy is just incredible. He's a smart filmmaker with an eye for the stylish and under that slick shell is meaning that a lot of people seem to miss. Some of his ideas feel a little clunky here, especially the use of the quotes, but for the most part, it works. Forest Whitaker is great in this film, too.
Rated 18 May 2012
29
55th
Best movie to watch alone at 4am.
Rated 10 Dec 2012
80
81st
watched: 2012, 2021
Rated 14 Feb 2013
79
61st
78.500
Rated 27 Feb 2013
70
43rd
Now, now, Jimmy. On the whole I enjoy your body of work, but this one was just a tad jarring. Where were you going with this one? Did you drive it down a highway and get lost looking for a destination?

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