Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

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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 ...
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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: 8/15/2000
  • UPC: 012236103523
  • Original Release: 1999
  • Rating:

  • Source: Live / Artisan
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Dolby 5.1
  • Sound: Dolby Digital
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:56:00
  • Format: DVD

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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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Special Features
      Audio Features
         Isolated Music Score
         Dolby Digital 5.1
      Trailers & TV Spots
         Teaser Trailer #1
         Teaser Trailer #2
         "ghosts" Tv Spot
         "ghosts" Tv Spot #2
         Teaser Trailer #3
         "hitman" Tv Spot
      Outtakes
      Ghost Dog: The Odyssey
      "Cakes" Music Video
      Cast & Crew
         Forest Whitaker
         John Tormey
         Isaach De Bankolé
         Henry Silva
         Cliff Gorman
         Victor Argo
         Tricia Vessey
         Camille Winbush
         Gene Ruffini
         Richard Portnow
         Jim Jarmusch
         Richard Guay
         Diana Schmidt
         Robby Müller
         Jay Rabinowitz, A.C.E.
         Ted Berner
         The RZA
         John Dunn
         Ellen Lewis and Laura Rosenthal
         Credits
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Great Flick

    Entertaining from beginning to end

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Oh my DOG! If you don't know, now you know!

    I enjoyed this movie so much I recommended it to my buddy Andrew. He loved it! In fact he loved it so much he bought me a copy on dvd and he got two for himself (one to watch and one to keep in its original packaging!). He even talks about when he retires, he wants to buy in an ice cream truck like the French guy in the movie! We keep talking about the possibilities of a sequel and my buddy has actually written several drafts! It would be great to find out what all the characters ended up becoming nearly ten years later. Does the kid resume the work of the spiritual assassin and teach the ice cream man english? What becomes of the mobsters daughter? Will she fight the kid as a teenager? The soundtrack is also one of the best compiled by Bobby Digital himself. Can't wait for more G.D. and the RZA! See you soon my little Ghost Dog Jr. and thank you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    one of the best

    this is one of the best movies i've ever seen possibly the best, it is just so unique and so smooth that the story and all the other elements that make this movie all flow together like pieces to a puzzle, it is in my eyes perfect, it has a great blend of action, drama, and humor, also the score fits together with the movie very well, RZA should get awarded for the score i would give this film 9/5 if i could.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Way of Life

    I can't get enough of this movie. It inspired me to read the books, buy the sound track(which is awesome!) It is an inspiration to a clearer way of thinking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Thinking Man's Movie!

    This movie quickly became one of my favorites. Here is the story of a man who lives strictly by the Samurai code in the modern Western world. This movie has many great character personalities, and not just in Whitaker's Ghost Dog. This movie is one to make you think. The best parts of this movie is the way Ghost Dog interacts with the other characters. Whitaker plays a very likeable role. I also now want to read 'The Hagakure' and 'Rashomon.' The soundtrack is also excellent!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A modern samurai masterpiece

    This movie is a masterpiece. 1. The DVD: Good movie transfer and sound. Unfortunately the extras are disappointing - just one tier up from having no extras at all. A little bit of trivia is gleaned from the 30-minute 'in-depth study' feature; the feature is simply an interview with Jim Jarmusch, Forest Whitaker, and the RZA, along with screamingly bad editing and annoying camera angles. Not on a level with the 30-minute 'What is Brazil' which should be a model to all DVD producers. There is also an 'isolated music score' which is interesting if you're into how the music integrates with the film. Apart from that the extras are duds, only 1 deleted scene, no audio commentary, etc. But the movie is a classic, so the DVD is a must-have in my opinion. 2.The movie: A powerful tale of a man (Forest Whitaker) living the Samurai code in a modern ''nameless'' city. A man who belongs to another time (or does he?). A sort of contrast between two ancient tribes, two codes - the italian mafioso code, and the way of the samurai. The film has been described as a fusion between many genres - samurai, urban hip-hop, gangster, and western. This is quite a challenge, and works for most of the film (although the humor and slapstick of the gangster characters goes a little far and doesn't integrate well with the other parts of the movie). I like the fact that Jarmusch didn't cast the 'usual suspects' for his gangster characters, but instead made an effort to use stage actors, actors that haven't been seen widely in these kinds of roles, etc. In the end, this is one of those movies that I find myself thinking about long after having seen it. Not only that, it has inspired me to read Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, and Roshoman. Jarmusch has outdone himself. Among his work I would rate this second only to Dead Man.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    YEAH SURE!! YOU SAY

    Yeah sure !! Forest Whitaker as a Ghost Dog, slip-in-and-out-unseen Samurai !! That's what I thought...but, being a Whitaker fan, I gave the movie a chance. Very much to my surprise, this is a great film !! It seems Whitaker has been studying martial-arts for years, and it takes a scant few minutes into the story before you believe the entire premise - and are mesmerized by it and Whitaker's outstanding low-key, way-cool portrayal. I was absolutely FLOORED by this DVD - truly an unexpected CLASSIC from seemingly the most mis-matched of stories and actors. Kudos all around - but especially to Forest Whitaker - apparently the man can do, and make you believe, ANYTHING !!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews