Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1999 • United States
Starring Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman
Jim Jarmusch combined his love for the ice-cool crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville and Seijun Suzuki with the philosophical dimensions of samurai mythology for an eccentrically postmodern take on the hit-man thriller. In one of his defining roles, Forest Whitaker brings a commanding serenity to his portrayal of a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him. Featuring moody cinematography by the great Robby Müller, a sublime score by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and a host of colorful character actors (including a memorably stone-faced Henry Silva), GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI plays like a pop-culture-sampling cinematic mixtape built around a one-of-a-kind tragic hero.
In June 2020, the Criterion Collection invited fans to send in questions about GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI for director Jim Jarmusch to answer. The questions came in from cities around the world.
Forest Whitaker, Isaach De Bankolé, and Michael Gillespie on GHOST DOG
This conversation among actors Forest Whitaker and Isaach De Bankolé is moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie, author of “Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film,” and was recorded using an online video-conference-call application in summer 2020.