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Ghost Dog - The Way Of The Samurai [DVD]

4.3 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman, Henry Silva, Isaach De Bankolé
  • Directors: Jim Jarmusch
  • Producers: Jim Jarmusch, Richard Guay
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Channel 4
  • DVD Release Date: 12 May 2008
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015N2YO6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,247 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Killer-for-hire Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) lives his life by the ancient Samurai code Hagakure. When his sometime employer Louie (John Tormey) hires him to assassinate gangster Handsome Frank - at the behest of Mafia don Ray Vargo (Henry Silva) - Ghost Dog carries out the job. However, when Vargo discovers that there was a witness to the killing, he orders the reluctant Louie to have Ghost Dog taken out. After Vargo's men ransack his home and slaughter his beloved pigeons, Ghost Dog vows to revenge himself on the crime bosses in true Samurai fashion.


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 is just the kind of offbeat vision we have 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 behaviour 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 honour, 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-centre humour. 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 honour in the clash of Old World traditions, and salutes his heroes with a skewed but sincere respect. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is my number one film of all time. The poetry of dignified violence is expressed in the subtle and transforming landscape of the reality of old school gangster philosophy, prejudice and disregard for life. Forest Whittaker gives a storming performance and the discreet Wu Tang presence simply amplifies this films status as totally and utterly COOL. Very Buddhist in vibe but don't let that put you off. With no sex scenes and only relevent swearing this film is everything all films should be. Well shot, well directed, equisitely acted throughout, (watch out for the ice cream man and the little girl) and creatively thought through. A must.
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Format: DVD
I read through the 6 or 7 reviews that gave the film 1 star. All of which had the arrogance to consider themselves knownledgable of Samurai cinema and decided that this film was below them. Funny how all of them quoted Akira Kurosawa, though one of the greatest director of all time, he is also the most obvious and famous. You don't have to try hard to explore his works. If you are truly interested in Samurai cinema you would of looked further, maybe picked up Kill!, Sword of Doom, Shogun's Samurai, The Samurai Trilogy, Taboo, The 47 Ronin. It's quite obvious that this film is only very lightly based on Samurai Boshido and rather basis the Assassin Ghost Dog's lifestyle on their culture. I myself did not expect Seven Samurai or Sanjuro when i picked this up, and i think it quite sensible if you don't either.

People who come on here after seeing Tom Cruise's Last Samurai, Zatoitchi and 1 or 2 of Kurosawa works need to a) see more Kurosawa films, look into his early works and maybe try one of his films that aren't period - for instance, Scandal or Red Beard and b) Actually explore true Samurai cinema, researching both chambara and Jidaigeki films. A good start would be the Rebel Samurai trilogy and then explore deeper for films like Three Outlaw Samurai

Please don't be put off this film just because of the view people that consider themselves cultured and film savvy enough to express this films flaws based on trivial annoyances - who cares that homing pigeons dont fly from two points... who cares that bad guys take less bullets to die than the good guys... This film is an action fantasy and thus you must suspend your beliefs and grip of reality - just like you would with Die Hard etc
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Format: DVD
If you didn't like Jim Jarmusch's NIGHT ON EARTH (Winona Ryder), STRANGER THAN PARADISE or DOWN BY LAW you'll definitely not like GHOST DOG. Like Tom Waitts' gravely voice that should have made him a failure rather than a succes as performer and song writer (often writing for Jarmusch's films) this movie is logical in a progression of Jarmusch's films.
Beginning with casting Forest Whitaker as the inner city Samurai, , who doesn't exactly sport a Bruce Lee physique, OBVIOUSLY this movie was never meant to be taken literally! In fact, Jarmusch may be the ONLY director who dares, and can pull off, a film that mixes hip-hop street culture with Mafioso wise guys, sprinkle it with quotes from The Book of the Samurai by Hagakure and not just "get away with it" but make it all work!
If you like Jim Jarmusch films then you'll love GHOST DOG. If you've never seen one of his flicks then go easy on yourself ... and take a peek at his 1991 film, NIGHT ON EARTH. If nothing else, you'll have a chance to see Winona Ryder in a wonderful acting role before she became, err, Winona Ryder. And let's not forget the other greats such as Gena Rowlands, Béatrice Dalle, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and that terrific MOUTH (and body) Rosie Perez who made NIGHT ON EARTH what it is. How can you resist?
In GHOST DOG, Whittaker is a gentle pigeon raising philosopher who is repected and feared in his 'hood. By night, he does "special" hits for the Mafia because as any good Samurai, he is loyal to one of the aging lieutenants who saved his life when Whittaker was a youth. The man he does contracts for is more like a character out of the ANALYZE THIS!
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Format: VHS Tape
Not that Jim Jarmusch has made a bad film (though 'Night on Earth' & 'Year of the Horse' were so-so)- but this one doesn't sound great on paper: a hitman who lives by a Samurai code and whose best friend is a French ice-cream salesman (naturally he doesn't speak French)- and his conflict with his 'master'- a Mafia hitman and his crew. Oh, and he's a piegeon fancier also!
The film feels like a cross between Melville's 'Le Samurai', Boorman's 'Point Blank' & Kitano's 'Sonatine'. It continues the transcedental mediations on death found in 'Dead Man'- as with that film it has a great score- by Wu-Tang man, RZA (along with the Wu-related work on 'Black & White', it is clear that their best work since Ghostface Killah's 'Ironman' is in soundtracks (exception-'Nigga Please' by ODB)).
There are some great moments of humour- the racist mob guy who digs Flavour Flav (Public Enemy), the reprisal of Gary Farmer as a Native -American and his catchphrase "stupid f***ing white man" (big influence on Michael Moore's book?), the old man being mugged or the bullet relations between Ghost Dog & Louie. And the subtitled mis/understandings are the best this side of 'Annie Hall'. The ice cream salesman (Roger from ER) and the young girl show the charming fraternal side to Ghost Dog's world; while Henry Silva and Victor Argo are among the Mafioso- or Jarmusch's deconstruction of. A canny reference to 'Rashomon' is present throughout the film, it's also a little like 'Leon'- there's also a boat on a roof- which is reminsicent of the ship in the tree in Herzog's 'Aguire,Wrath of God'.
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