"It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this."
- Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker), reading from HAGAKURE: THE BOOK OF THE SAMURAI
"Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty. With martial valor, if one becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die."
- Ghost Dog, reading from HAGAKURE
"When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about doing it in a long, roundabout way. One's heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by and large there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong."
- Ghost Dog, reading from HAGAKURE
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 02/??/2000
"...[Jarmusch's film] has his deadpan sense of humor..."
Premiere - 03/01/2000
"...A master-mix from a cinematic DJ at the height of his formalist powers..."
USA Today - 05/01/2000
"...Amusing and melancholic, sweet-centred and dark-edged..."
New York Times - 03/03/2000
"...Fascinating....[Jarmusch] has composed a ruminative, bittersweet visual essay on brutality, honor and tribalism..."
Los Angeles Times - 03/17/2000
"...Rueful, funny, deliciously off-kilter..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 03/17/2000
"...Jarmusch seems to have directed with his tongue in his cheek, his hand over his heart, and his head in the clouds. The result is weirdly intriguing..."
Wall Street Journal - 05/01/2009
"[Whitaker's] special quality, which is soulful, almost Zenfully mournful, suffuses Jim Jarmusch's haunting film about a contemporary hit man who obeys the ancient Samurai code..."
Eastern and Western cultures and philosophies intersect in this comic drama from acclaimed director Jim Jarmusch. Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) is a silent modern-day warrior who lives on a rooftop shack. He spends his days breeding pigeons and playing chess in the park with his best friend, Raymond (Isaach de Bankolé), a French-speaking ice-cream man. At night he goes to work as a hit man, performing his tasks stealthily and invisibly, abiding by the codes established by HAGAKURE: THE BOOK OF THE SAMURAI, an 18th-century text. One night, while on his latest hit, Ghost Dog encounters a mob boss's beautiful daughter, Louise (Tricia Vessey). Although Ghost Dog leaves her unharmed, her father nonetheless orders Ghost Dog's execution, to the dismay of Louie (John Tormey), his loyal retainer. As the mobsters struggle to locate the mysteriously untraceable Ghost Dog, he must find a way to protect himself while remaining loyal to Louie and the ancient codes that define him as an individual. Jarmusch successfully tackles a variety of genres with GHOST DOG, including mob movies and spiritual samurai films. Fusing all of this with the RZA's thumping, atmospheric score, GHOST DOG remains another lighthearted, entertaining addition to Jarmusch's impressive filmography.
Sometimes reflective, sometimes absurdly comic, cult favorite Jim Jarmusch's film is another freewheeling ode to a variety of cinematic genres. As Ghost Dog, a soulful hit man, Whitaker's inner musings reflect the ancient Eastern philosophies established in such books as the HAGAKURE. Ghost Dog's involvement with a bumbling group of gangsters gives Jarmusch ample opportunity to hysterically parody mob movies. Then there's the soundtrack--compliments of the Wu Tang Clan's the RZA--which adds another layer of atmosphere to the proceedings. Once again, the results are undeniably entertaining, proving that Jarmusch is still one of the world's most inventive directors.
Hit Men |
Theatrical release: March 3, 2000.
Jim Jarmusch wrote the role of Ghost Dog specifically for Forest Whitaker.
Gary Farmer's cameo as Nobody is a self-reflexive nod to Jarmusch's 1995 film, DEAD MAN.
The RZA was unfamiliar with Jarmusch's films before being asked to compose music for GHOST DOG.
Victor Argo, who plays Vinny, has appeared in over 60 films throughout his career, including MEAN STREETS, THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, BAD LIEUTENANT, SMOKE, and THE FUNERAL.
Desson Howe of the Washington Post named GHOST DOG one of the 10 best films of 2000.