Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

4.7 8
Director: Jim Jarmusch

Cast: Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman

     
 

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Ghost Dog is Jim Jarmusch's homage to Eastern warrior-mysticism and hip-hop street culture and it gets a well-deserved treatment with its DVD release. Forest Whitaker plays the mercenary Ghost Dog, a disciple of the Japanese way of the samurai, leading him into a bloody feud with a low-rent Mafia ring in Jersey City, NJ. Presented in digitally masteredSee more details below

Overview

Ghost Dog is Jim Jarmusch's homage to Eastern warrior-mysticism and hip-hop street culture and it gets a well-deserved treatment with its DVD release. Forest Whitaker plays the mercenary Ghost Dog, a disciple of the Japanese way of the samurai, leading him into a bloody feud with a low-rent Mafia ring in Jersey City, NJ. Presented in digitally mastered widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, this Artisan Home Entertainment DVD release captures the big-screen experience wonderfully and loads it with additional features. RZA, mastermind of the rap group Wu Tang Clan, handles Ghost Dog's synergetic score and soundtrack. His contribution is celebrated on this release. The video for the track "Cakes" uses Whitaker and works as a companion to the movie without using excessive film footage. The isolated musical score allows one to watch the movie with only the score playing. This feature and some fast-forward manipulation can make for some breathtaking collaboration between RZA and Jarmusch; the scene where pigeons fly in unison to Ghost Dog's flagged instructions while the tight, Stax/Volt sound is bent and looped like a piece of classical music, is better than anything on MTV. Although there is no director's commentary, Jarmusch does sit down along with Whitaker and RZA for interview segments as part of the 30-minute short "The Odyssey: The Journey Into the Life of a Samurai." This "making of" featurette is informative and entertaining and follows the themes of the movie without becoming an infomercial. The cast and crew bios, usually a mundane feature, prove helpful in the identification of the annoyingly familiar but unplaceable actors who portray the inept goodfellas. These features, along with a plethora of trailers and deleted scenes, make Ghost Dog an example of an intelligent movie given a DVD release worthy of any collection.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Jim Jarmusch (Stanger Than Paradise) serves up spirituality with a hip-hop beat in this offbeat satire of modern gangster films. Forest Whitaker gives one of his most compelling performances yet as Ghost Dog, an enigmatic Mafia hit man who sees himself as a modern samurai and ends up fighting a one-man war against his mob employers. When he's not wielding high-powered firearms like they were samurai swords, he leads a monk-like existence in his inner-city tenement building. Aphorisms from the 18th-century Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai lend their austere poetry to the film, with text appearing onscreen as Ghost Dog recites it in voice-over. Adding to the confluence of ancient and modern is a haunting soundtrack by hip-hop legend the RZA, one of the founders of the Wu-Tang Clan. Though there is much violence, as well as dry humor, in Ghost Dog, it is tempered by Jarmusch's unique brand of humanism, and his affection for his oddball characters, who often converse in a language deeper than mere words.
All Movie Guide
From Stranger Than Paradise on, cities in Jim Jarmusch films have been a place where disparate elements and various cultures come into contact, and occasionally into conflict, with one another. Ghost Dog is the director's most explicit examination of this vision, its central character born into one culture, expressing a strong elective affinity toward another, and indentured to yet a third. Where some directors would have used the set up to explore a sense of postmodern confusion, Jarmusch is clearly fascinated with the syncretism at work. It helps that he has an actor as thoughtful and effective as Forest Whitaker in the lead role, conveying a strange mixture of melancholy and professional pride as he goes about his business. In addition to comparing two endagered, honor-bound ways of life -- Mafia and samurai -- Ghost Dog's profession also allows Jarmusch to continue the commentary on American violence initiated in 1995's Dead Man. When Ghost Dog kills, the director portrays the violence unflinchingly, not willing to compromise his vision of the character. Does his life of violence simply echo his environment? Does his philosophical foundation justify his way of life, or does he use it merely to excuse his choices? As usual, Jarmusch's deadpan approach leaves it to viewers to fill in the blanks, and as usual his unwillingness to supply the answers contributes greatly to the impact of the film.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/15/2000
UPC:
0012236103523
Original Release:
1999
Rating:
R
Source:
Live / Artisan
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital]
Time:
1:56:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Forest Whitaker Ghost Dog
John Tormey Louie
Cliff Gorman Sonny Valerio
Henry Silva Vargo
Isaach de Bankolé Raymond
Frank Minucci Big Angie
Tricia Vessey Louise Vargo
Victor Argo Vinny
Richard Portnow Handsome Frank
Gene Ruffini Old Consigliere
Camille Winbush Pearline
Chuck Jeffreys Mugger
Gary Farmer Nobody

Technical Credits
Jim Jarmusch Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Ted Berner Production Designer
Ron Von Blomberg Set Decoration/Design
John Dunn Costumes/Costume Designer
Jude Gorjanc Asst. Director
Richard Guay Producer
Drew Kunin Sound/Sound Designer
Ellen Lewis Casting
Robby Müller Cinematographer
Jay Rabinowitz Editor
Laura Rosenthal Casting
RZA Score Composer
Diana Schmidt Co-producer
Mario R. Ventenilla Art Director

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Index
1. Main Titles [2:31]
2. Ghost Dog [4:45]
3. Understanding All Ways [2:56]
4. A Hit Is Planned [3:35]
5. A Successful Hit [2:41]
6. Message Via Carrier Pigeon [5:13]
7. Condolences [3:14]
8. Vengeance for Handsom Frank [8:15]
9. A Literary Discussion [8:25]
10. The Ice Cream Man [3:18]
11. Hit Men [2:04]
12. "I'm Your Retainer" [8:03]
13. Amazing Boat on the Rooftop [3:03]
14. A Decision Made is Seven Breaths [3:18]
15. "The Poetry of War" [7:10]
16. A New Set of Clothes [2:22]
17. Surveillance [4:42]
18. Dash in Headlong [4:48]
19. Bear Hunting Season [2:04]
20. "You Just Iced a Woman" [3:41]
21. Borrowing a Car [4:20]
22. A Sudden Rainstorm [3:52]
23. "Cold Lampin' with Flavor" [2:24]
24. "Always See Everything" [7:11]
25. The Final Shoot-out Scene [6:03]
26. The End Is Important [:56]
27. End Credits [4:32]

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