Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a 1999 film about an assassin, Ghost Dog, who follows the ways of the Samurai as outlined in the book Hagakure

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.
All assassins live beyond the law... only one follows the code taglines

Ghost Dog

  • The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. This is the substance of the way of the samurai. (00:03:05)
  • It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything else that is called a Way. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own. (00:09:42)
  • If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a samurai is, its basis lies first in seriously devoting one's body and soul to his master. Not to forget one's master is the most fundamental thing for a retainer. (00:15:37)
  • 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. (00:19:43)
  • Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall there was this one: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly." Master Ittei commented, "Matters of small concern should be treated seriously." (00:23:01)
  • According to what one of the elders said, taking an enemy on the battlefield is like a hawk taking a bird. Even though it enters into the midst of a thousand of them, it gives no attention to any bird other than the one that it has first marked. (00:46:45)
  • In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side. (00:58:04)
  • Even if a samurai's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should still be able to perform one more action with certainty. If one becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die. (01:04:16)
  • It is good to carry some powdered rouge in one's sleeve. It may happen that when one is sobering up or waking from sleep, a samurai's complexion may be poor. At such a time it is good to take out and apply some powdered rouge. (01:08:50)
  • 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 going at it in a long roundabout way. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. (01:13:13)
  • Our bodies are given life from the midst of nothingness. Existing where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase, "Form is emptiness." That all things are provided for by nothingness is the meaning of the phrase, "Emptiness is form." One should not think that these are two separate things. (01:19:32)
  • There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. (01:24:29)
  • There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to all things. (01:28:40)
  • It is said that what is called "the spirit of an age" is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world's coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation. (01:33:15)

Ghost Dog: You know, in ancient cultures, bears were considered equal with men.
Shane: This ain't no ancient culture here, mister.
Ghost Dog: Sometimes it is.


  • In the Kamigata area they have a sort of tiered lunchbox they use for a single day when flower viewing. Upon returning, they throw them away, trampling them underfoot. The end is important in all things.


  • Nothing seems to make sense anymore.
  • For the past four years, he's done maybe 12 perfect contracts. Perfect. Like a ghost.

Sonny Valerio

  • Now is the time to tell us everything you know about this mysterious ghostlike untraceable fuckin' button man.


Ice Cream Man: Hey did you know Ice Cream is really good for you, lots of calcium
Ice Cream Man: Hey apparently Ice cream isn't good for you, too much sugar, not enough Calcium


Sonny Valerio: "If a warrior's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should still be able to perform one more action with certainty." What the fuck is that suppose to mean?
Ray Vargo: It's poetry. The poetry of war.

Louie: Goddamn it. You shot me in the exact same fucking place as last time!
Ghost Dog: I'm sorry. I mean you no disrespect. I'm your retainer. I don't want to put too many holes in you.

Sonny Valerio: Where's he live?
Louie: Fuck, if I know. That's the next strange thing. I mean, I can't just call him up. Instead, he contacts me every day through a bird.
Sonny Valerio: Did you just say he contacts you through a bird? Did I just hear you say that?

Pearline: Can't you understand what he's saying?
Ghost Dog: No, I don't understand him. I don't speak French, only English. I never understand a word he says. "
Pearline: And that's your best friend?
Ghost Dog: Yeah.

Vinny: You know Louie, there's one good thing about this Ghost Dog guy.
Louie: What's that Vin?
Vinny: He's sending us out the old way. Like real fucking gangsters.

RZA clad as Samurai in Camouflage: Ghost Dog, power, equality.
Ghost Dog: Always see everything, my brother.


  • All assassins live beyond the law... only one follows the code
  • Live by the code. Die by the code.