Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
  1. Jim Jarmusch has come up with something strange and amazing.
  2. 100
    A thoroughly absorbing, even transfixing, journey to a future that may already be upon us.
  3. 91
    A purely cinematic experience. You've got to see it, in other words, to understand.
  4. 90
    Laced with brilliantly knotted ideas on race, masculinity and cults of violence.
  5. 90
    What makes the film so special is that while tickling your postmodern funnybone, it never forgets to make you care for its characters, in a welcome, and almost traditional way.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Harrison
    It's a nearly pitch-perfect melding of genres, influences and modes of expression--it's the first Mafia movie for the hip-hop age.
  7. It's the kind of movie you wish you had more time to absorb and could see more than once before reviewing.
  8. 83
    The result has the dingy grace of pigeons flying across an urban wasteland.
  9. This infusion of warrior philosophy is the gas in Ghost Dog's tank, and Jarmusch pumps it up for maximum octane throughout.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Niftily quirky.
  11. It's fun, but not obvious fun.
  12. Whitaker's acting is highly creative and Jarmusch's filmmaking is as elegant and original as ever.
  13. So filled with amusing, idiosyncratic touches and unexpectedly charming characters that you mostly don't mind its excesses.
  14. (Jarmusch's) most accessible film after "Night on Earth," yet it's still elliptical and enigmatic.
  15. Reviewed by: Spencer H. Abbott
    An ultra-violent cinematic rendering which will appeal to those moviegoers who like their action dramas laced with nice touches of meta-physicality and left-of-center humor.
  16. 70
    Every minute he's on screen, Whitaker makes Ghost Dog worth watching.
  17. It's beautifully cast and filmed (cinematography by the matchless Robby Muller) and often quite moving, despite the fact that most of the characters are never developed much beyond mythic or parodic prototypes.
  18. (Jarmusch) introduce gratuitous bloodshed that is out of sync with the engaging, offbeat tempo and dark, comedic moral fable that has come before.
  19. The movie is still too solemn.
  20. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Best when it's playful, toying with the fact that the Mafia has in a single generation been transmogrified from myth to joke.
  21. 60
    A movie as laconic as its hero, Ghost Dog is nonetheless diminished by its most un-Zen-like attachment to this underlying sentimentality.
  22. There is a lot of violence, but not much action; a plot involving vengeance, jealousy and double-crossing, but not a great deal of suspense.
  23. 52
    Likable, but frustratingly lazy, Ghost Dog has coolness running all through it, but little substance.
  24. 50
    Jarmusch has never seemed quite this baffling -- or quite this dull.
  25. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Points for an interesting concept; demerits for the dull execution.
  26. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Am I the only one who finds the substance of this movie repulsive?
  27. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The gambits in Ghost Dog seem simply like literary and cinematic games devoid of any larger meaning.
  28. It's too bloody to be funny and too silly to be dramatic and too self-indulgent to be anything other than what it is, one more bad movie.
  29. It's too cryptic and unfulfilled to serve as a tool for anything beyond its own obfuscation.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. Oct 10, 2011
    Despite its B-flick movie poster, Jim Jarmusch's mash-up movie "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" is a surprisingly well structured samurai-gangster movie you would definitely watch when having extra time to spend. Full Review »
  2. Sep 26, 2011
    Magnificent movie, one of Jarmush's best. And if you happen to be into Zen philosophy, hiphop music, and gangster flicks like me, you'll give it a 10 as well. Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2010
    "Ghost Dog," the story of an inner city dweller who lives by the way of the samurai soaks up its premise not in blood splatter but in level-headed absurdity and complexity, a focus that takes much more time to absorb. Still, the movie is fun in ways that you wouldn't expect - the antagonists are comprised of the worst ...mob probably ever caught on film: they are regularly shown whacking the wrong people, watching cartoons (the movies sly way of equating mob violence to cartoon violence) or falling behind on their rent. Ghost Dog, played by Forest Whitaker, is quite a character himself, trying to make sense of the world through Zen judgment and ancient ways by frequently quoting relevant passages from Hagakure, the book of the Samurai. Furthermore his 'best friend' is an ice cream truck man who can only speak French. This combined with the fact that the movie isn't afraid to address questions of morality and racism make the movie even more of a head-scratcher but nevertheless entertaining. To top it all off, RZA's soundtrack is one of the highlights of the film, layering it with great old-style Wu-Tang hip-hop that is enough to make the movie worth watching itself. Full Review »