[Screen It]


(2000) (Forest Whitaker, John Tormey) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Heavy Extreme Moderate Extreme
Moderate Minor None Heavy Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Moderate Minor Moderate Extreme

Drama: A contract killer, who lives his life as a modern-day samurai, must deal with a crime family that now wants him dead.
Ghost Dog (FOREST WHITAKER) is a solitary contract killer who's pledged his loyalty to Louie (JOHN TORMEY), a smalltime mobster who saved his life many years earlier. Louie works for Ray Vargo (HENRY SILVA), the head of a local crime family, and takes orders from the family's under-boss, Sonny Valerio (CLIFF GORMAN).

It seems that Sonny has ordered a hit on Handsome Frank (RICHARD PORTNOW), a fellow mobster who's been seeing Ray's daughter, Louise Vargo (TRICIA VESSEY). Receiving his instructions via his trusted carrier pigeon, Ghost Dog successfully completes his mission, but didn't realize that Louise would be there to witness the hit. As a result, Ray orders that the hit man be eliminated.

Unaware of the contract now on his life, Ghost Dog goes about his daily activities of following the precepts of the 18th century warrior text, Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai. He also spends time in the local park with Raymond (ISAACH DE BANKOLÉ), a French speaking ice cream vendor who's his "best friend" despite neither understanding the other's language, and befriends a young girl, Pearline (CAMILLE WINBUSH), who shares a strong literary interest with the contract killer who's fashioned his life as a samurai.

Eventually learning of Vargo's order to have him rubbed out, Ghost Dog consults the teachings and philosophy of the Hagakure as he prepares to battle Ray, Sonny and the rest of the crime family that wants him dead.

While the cast may draw in some kids, once word gets out about this hip conglomeration of samurais, mobsters, hip-hop music, etc., male teens may be enticed by it.
For strong violence and language.
Other than ISAACH DE BANKOLÉ as a French-speaking ice cream vendor and CAMILLE WINBUSH as a young girl who befriends Ghost Dog and likes to read, the rest of the characters are profanity spewing criminals and/or professional killers (including the protagonist) and thus probably wouldn't be considered as positive role models to most parents.


Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

(Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

The following is a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Violence is rated as extreme due to many people being shot and killed, often with bloody results. While not explicitly played to be suspenseful, some viewers may find such scenes that way. In addition, the hip way in which the contract killer and the killings is presented may be troubling to some parents concerned about its effect on impressionable kids.

Not surprisingly (considering that most of the characters are criminals of one sort or another), an extreme amount of bad attitudes are present. Profanity is also rated as extreme due to more than 70 "f" words being used, while other profanities and colorful phrases are also uttered (some in the rap songs that play on the soundtrack).

Beyond that, some characters drink and smoke, a pending/past sexual encounter is implied and a woman is briefly seen in her small bra and panties. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may wish to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.

For those concerned with bright, onscreen flashes of light, a few instances of that occur during a thunderstorm.

  • Louise has some wine next to her and her lover tells her to drink more. Accordingly, she downs a glass of it in one gulp.
  • Some guys in a park carry bottles of what's presumably liquor in brown paper bags.
  • Ghost Dog spots a couple walking down a street and they appear to be drunk.
  • We see bottles of liquor on the shelves in a liquor store.
  • Bullet wounds in a man's chest and head are somewhat bloody.
  • We see a flashback (several times) of a younger Ghost Dog who's bloody after being beaten by several men.
  • We see a little bit of blood on a man's shirt after he's just been shot.
  • There's some blood on the shirt of a mobster who's been shot as well as on the street next to him.
  • Louie's shoulder is a bit bloody after being shot there (he also has some blood on his face).
  • We see some dead and slightly bloody pigeons.
  • Others who are shot have bloody bullet holes in their clothing.
  • We see more blood on the clothing around Louie's shoulder after he's shot there again.
  • An injured mobster has blood from his mouth.
  • We see blood in a sink after a man is shot.
  • We see blood running from several bullet holes in a man's shirt.
  • Ghost Dog is a professional hit man who kills for pay, and also steals a few cars along the way.
  • Louie and the rest of the mobsters obviously also have extreme cases of bad attitudes.
  • Some white mobsters make derogatory comments about black people (calling them "niggers" and one saying, "Indians and niggers - same thing").
  • Ghost Dog comes across two hunters who've illegally shot a bear.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • We see a sniper rifle's point of view as Ghost Dog prepares to shoot several mobsters from a distance, but he doesn't get the chance.
  • Handguns: Used to threaten, wound, or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Samurai knife and sword: Used by Ghost Dog while practicing his samurai moves.
  • Cartoon guns: Seen in various old cartoons on TV.
  • Phrases: "Let's get the f*ck out of here," "Dumb f*ck," "What the f*ck?" "Sh*t list," "Don't break my balls," "Wacko," "Sucker," "Eat me," "Scumbag," "My ass" and "Broad" (for a woman).
  • Ghost Dog's samurai-like philosophy might be enticing to some impressionable teens (especially since he and the film make killing look so hip).
  • Although teens obviously won't have the electronic gadget that Ghost Dog deploys, he does steal several cars as well as switches license plates from another car onto one of his stolen ones.
  • Some kids catch a ride on the back of a moving vehicle (they're wearing in-line skates).
  • A gun suddenly shows up aimed at a person's head.
  • None.
  • Although some of the rap songs that play on the film's soundtrack have lyrics that could not be understood, we did the hear the following in some of the songs: Several uses of the "f" and "s" words, along with "t*ts," "nigger" and "bitch."
  • At least 73 "f" words (3 used with "mother"), 8 "s" words (some in English subtitles), 2 slang terms using male genitals ("c*cks*cker" and "pr*ck"), 2 slang terms for breasts (variations of "t*t"), 10 hells (some in English subtitles), 3 asses (1 used with "hole"), 2 damns (some in English subtitles), 1 S.O.B., 5 uses of "G-damn," 4 of "Jesus," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "Swear to God" and "Oh Christ" as exclamations.
  • Although we don't see any activity, it's obvious by the way Louise and her lover are dressed that they have had or are going to have sex.
  • We see a woman in her skimpy bra and panties and a man in his boxers after Ghost Dog steals their clothing at gunpoint.
  • Sonny smokes cigars around five times, while Louie smokes a few times and various miscellaneous/background characters (as well as some cartoon-based ones) also smoke.
  • A woman knows of her father's death, but doesn't seem too upset or disturbed about it.
  • The hip/cool/entertaining way in which Ghost Dog's lifestyle (of being a samurai-based contract killer) is presented.
  • Ghost Dog shoots a man twice in the chest and once in the head in a contract hit.
  • We see a flashback (several times) of several men beating and hitting a younger Ghost Dog. Louie then shows up and shoots one of these men dead.
  • A kid throws various objects from his window down at some of the mobsters on the street below.
  • A man tries to steal bags from a seemingly helpless older man, but that man quickly delivers several kicks to the thief who then leaves.
  • A mobster shoots a man's pigeon.
  • A mobster shoots an innocent man dead.
  • Ghost Dog holds his silencer-equipped gun to Louie's head for quite some time and then shoots another mobster who was approaching them with his gun drawn. After Louie then repeatedly tells Ghost Dog that he might as well shoot him too, Ghost Dog shoots him in the shoulder.
  • Ghost Dog returns home to find that the mobsters have killed most of his pigeons and ransacked his place.
  • Ghost Dog steals a man and woman's clothing at gunpoint.
  • Ghost Dog hits a man by opening his car door and then shoots him and another man dead. After entering a house, he shoots many mobsters dead as he makes his way through it looking for Sonny and Vargo (and an older mobster collapses from an apparent heart attack during this). He then shoots Louie in the same shoulder as he previously did.
  • Ghost Dog comes across two hunters who've illegally shot and killed a bear. In turn, he shoots and kills both of them.
  • An injured mobster shoots a policewoman dead.
  • Ghost Dog shoots a man dead and then does the same to another.
  • A man shoots another man three times in the chest, eventually killing him. A young girl then picks up a gun and tries to shoot the assailant, but her gun is empty.

  • Reviewed February 22, 2000 / Posted March 17, 2000

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