Ghost Dog (Whitaker) lives with his carrier pigeons on an urban rooftop and follows the advice of an ancient samurai guidebook. He works as a hitman for his "master", a second-rate mafioso Louie (Tormey) who once saved his life. Effective and unnoticed, Ghost Dog's legend builds as he moves quietly through the city with very few friends--his best friend (a lively ice cream vendor played by the wonderful De Bankolé) doesn't even speak English! But then Louie's bumbling mob makes a mistake and calls for Ghost Dog's elimination. And he will not go down with out a fight.
As Ghost Dog eliminates his opponents one-by-one, Jarmusch keeps the story ambling along perfectly, drawing the humour from the characters. The mobsters (played with glee by a cast of veterans) are obsessed with violent cartoons; their dialogue is absolutely hilarious. And Whitaker is excellent as the quietly intense counterpoint, quoting from his bible, caring for his pigeons, swapping books with a young girl (Winbush) he meets in the park ... and inventively eliminating the entire mafia until he comes face-to-face with his master in the clever, complex finale. This isn't a blockbuster action film--it's a small, offbeat, extremely well-crafted little film that's full of terrific touches. It's also the funniest mob comedy in years.
[15--themes, strong violence, language] 22.Oct.99
US release 10.Mar.00; UK release 28.Apr.00
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