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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Widescreen) [Import]

Forest Whitaker , Henry Silva , Jim Jarmusch    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Widescreen) [Import] + Dead Man [Import]
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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
If you like a blend of graphic violence with black humor (a la Pulp Fiction) then you'll love this movie. Jim Jarmusch wrote and directed this highly unusual and enjoyable film about a man named Ghost Dog (the brilliant Forrest Whitaker) who is a hitman that lives by the code of Bushido. I've heard there's various interpretations of Bushido. Ghost Dog lives by the code as set down in the Hagakure, a book he often reads. The DVD also includes a great documentary about the movie. An audio commentary would've been nice, but the documentary is so informative that a commentary isn't really necessary.
Ghost Dog works as a hitman for Louie, who's in the mafia. The mafia bosses want Louie to have 'Handsome' Frank (a member of their mafia family) killed by someone "from the outside". Louie has Ghost Dog kill Frank. But now, since Frank was part of their family, they need to kill Ghost Dog - their own code of honour demands it, even though they were the ones who arranged the hit. But Mr. Vargo might also have an ulterior motive for wanting Ghost Dog killed. It's clear that Mr. Vargo's daughter suspects her father had Frank killed. But does Mr. Vargo know that or not? Is he being pressured by his daughter to kill Ghost Dog? I can't say for sure.
It's fascinating to see a present-day African-American man abiding by a code of honour that was intended to be followed by warriors in feudal Japan. Jarmusch says he wanted Ghost Dog to be a likeable killer. He's quiet, gentle, and kind - it's impossible not to like him. Ghost Dog is a cold-blooded murderer, but we can overlook this unseemly aspect of his character, in large part due to his various conversations with the little girl named Pearline.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern Mobster...Samurai April 4 2002
By jmk444
Format:VHS Tape
Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a fascinating flick - an odd hybrid, two parts gangster epic, one part philosophical journey of self-discovery. Forrest Whitaker (Phenomenon, Good Morning Vietnam) is Ghost Dog, a loner, who considers himself a "retainer" (servant/protector) to a mobster named Lou (John Tormey) who once saved his life.
Ghost Dog is a seeker, studying the Hagakure (The Code of the Samurai). Throughout the film, he reads passages from the Hagakure that highlight his own personal code. Passages like, "Each day a samurai should contemplate his own death and consider various ways of dying, from being torn apart in the jaws of a wild beast, to falling from thousand foot cliffs, and during some part of the day, the samurai should consider himself dead."
Ghost Dog's "best friend" is a Haitian ice cream vendor (Isaac DeBankole), despite the fact that Whitaker's character understands no French and the ice cream vendor doesn't understand English. His only other real human contact is with a young girl, maybe 10 years old, named Pearline (Camille Winbush).
Lou contacts Ghost Dog via carrier pigeon and pays him for his contract killings once a year...Lou doesn't know anything else about his contract killer, not his given name, not even where he lives. This becomes the fulcrum for some very dark comedy.
When a hit goes awry and Lou's associates look to eliminate Ghost Dog, Lou's inability to provide details makes for some darkly comedic confrontations. Veteran screen villain Henry Silva is cold and bizarre as mob boss Ray Vargo, while Cliff Gorman (Sonny Valerio) provides a comic absurdity (a mafia hit man who's also a rap aficionado) rivaled only by the communication between Ghost Dog and the ice cream vendor that transcends language.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Whittaker Shines June 16 2004
Format:DVD
Forrest Whittaker is certainly one of our most talented and underrated actors. This role probably allows him the greatest latitude to express a wide range of emotions since he starred as Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood's "Bird" or in the gender-bender "The Crying Game." As Ghost Dog, he winds his way through Jim Jarmusch's script with grace & depth.
In adopting the way of the Samurai, GDog latches onto Louie, a mid-level mob boss played by John Tormey. The mix of cultures is a familiar Jarmusch theme that is exceptionally well realized in this DVD. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is GDog's relationship to his French-speaking best friend Raymond. The two often converse, not understanding each other's language but almost mirroring each other's thoughts as the subtitled French indicates. Isaach de Bankole does a great job as the ice cream truck-driving friend. Also very pivotal to the film is the wonderful screen time given to Camille Winbush as Pearline, a child who GDog loans a copy of Rashamon to. There is a great rapport between the two.
The Italian crime bosses are ironically played for laughs with Cliff Gorman's inept mob boss front & center. As Vargo, Henry Silva who has such a great ethnic look and has played in "Dick Tracy" & "Oceans 11" does a great job of being hard-edged and incompetent. His daughter Louise is a witness to one of GDog's early executions and eventually orders Louie to perform the hit on our star.
With the aspects of carrier pigeons and a guy building an arc on a city rooftop, we see numerous interesting cultural aspects and humor combined in the drama. This is an interesting film melding Asian culture with modern crime, kind of a Hip-Hop version of Kung Fu. Whittaker keeps us glued to the screen for a most interesting performance. Enjoy!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
A well written, but very slow paced drama. Very little action. Great performance from whitaker.
Published on Sept. 15 2010 by Harvey Vdarski
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily one of the coolest films ever made; HOW CAN YOU PASS THIS UP...
Ghost Dog is like a contemporary Spaghetti Western/Samurai flick set in the suburbs. It has the slow, mellow, easy pacing interrupted by moments of intense violence, the intriguing... Read more
Published on April 3 2010 by Nathan Andersen
1.0 out of 5 stars what is this rubbish?
I think this movie COULD have been great. There are some funny moments: the icecream man scenes, and the mob members trying to catch those pigeons. Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by W. yuan
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, could have been great
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... Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by Geoff Prescott
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal and entertaining
This was another gem from the director Jim Jarmusch, who previously brought us the incredibly underrated zen spaghetti western Dead Man. Read more
Published on March 29 2004 by A. M Robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars "Samurai Conscious Hitman"
Wicked soundtrack! Wu-Tang Clan ain't nuthing to F... with. I can say I apprecaited this movie alot more the 2nd and 3rd time around. Read more
Published on March 12 2004 by Conscious 1
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different
This is definitely not a mainstream action movie, and there were parts when the mafia guys had some bad acting. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Bhuck
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
This movie is one of the best movies i've seen in a long time. Forest Whitaker does a exellent job, playing a New York modern Hitman. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2004 by The D-Gee
5.0 out of 5 stars There is only one way to describe this movie: GREAT!
This is a very good movie. It's like a mix between the TV-show THE SOPRANOS and a good hitman-movie (which I haven't seen one before I saw this) and it's placed in the urban... Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2004 by D3strukchun
5.0 out of 5 stars cool
i liked this movie because it's unlike any other movie. it's weird , gritty , and kinda darkly sweet. it all goes together pretty well and the charector development rocks.
Published on Dec 25 2003 by Justin M Kirby
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