Review: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

ghost dog way of the samurai

Jim Jarmusch is someone whose films bring a very polarising response in me. I adore some and detest others but even I can’t deny that the guy is easily one of the most creative and underappreciated filmmakers in the world today. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is one film of his I was yet to see and the fact that Forest Whitaker was in it gave me more of an incentive to watch it besides it’s intriguing plot.

So the film basically follows the story of the titular character Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker), a loner, hit-man and a man of very few words who models himself after the samurai. Ghost Dog works for Louie, a minor mob boss, and believes he believes he is indebted to for saving his life, So Ghost Dog slowly and quietly does Louie’s dirty work for him and the mafia, that is until he accidently kills a member of the mob and soon finds himself at odds with the mafia.

Ghost Dog has got to be one of the strangest and coolest films I have ever come across and I love the fact that it is so strange and cool.


Forest Whitaker, in one of the best performances of his career, drives the film in a wonderfully understated turn. But it’s Jarmusch’s triumph as a storyteller that’s even more note-worthy. He provides Whitaker with such a perfect platform to showcase his performance. His style of filmmaking is elegant to say the least, and cinematic in every way. He crafts this film superbly well, and even though the film has a surprisingly minimal amount of dialogue Jarmusch was able to draw me in with this unique atmosphere he creates. This movie is all about mood and moments from straight-up bizarre ones to potent and moving ones. The story is profound and extremely absorbing, brimming with idiosyncrasies, surrealism and dark humor. It’s just an altogether brilliant film, right up there with Stranger Than Paradise and Broken Flowers as some of Jarmusch’s best work.




14 responses to “Review: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

  1. Yes! I love this cult classic. Samurai honour vs mobsters. Blade vs bullets. Jarmusch does Tarantino. And that score by the Rza is amazing… well worth owning. Thanks for continuing to shine that spotlight on indie cinema. Great revies, Khalid!


  2. As I really really enjoyed his ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ I find myself in want of more Jim Jarmusch. He is a really interesting guy and the only film of his I’ve seen so far confirms. I freaking love Forest Whitaker so this very well could be my next stop on the Jarmusch circuit. 😉

    Thanks for the heads-up on this. Totally didn’t know about it.


    • This movie is basically a really cool mixture of gangster and samurai films and the result is unlike anything you’re ever likely to see.
      You and me both, Forest Whitaker is such an awesome actor


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