I saw this film on the recommendation of ideath
A very interesting film. The character "Ghost Dog", played by Forest Whitaker, lives in a world of values constructed by his of reading paperback translations of Japanese texts of dubious worth. Shorn from their historical and social context, Ghost Dog freely adapts them to construct a world of values and certainties.
He is a "button man", a contract killer for a small capo in a Mafia family. The gangsters are ineffectual, unable to pay the landlord three months rent and are easily cowed and shamed.
Having killed a "made man" on the orders of this Family, things go awry. He must be eliminated. Instead, he murders the mobsters one by one, allowing himself to be killed at the end by the small capo that was his "lord".
He lives cut off from the world he actually lives in. His best friend is a Haitian ice cream salesman who understands Ghost Dog perfectly but who cannot speak English. Ghost Dog speaks no French. They understand each other, but cannot speak with each other.
Ghost Dog passes on his copy of "Hagakure", a text by a samurai who never faced a live sword but that has formed the frame for his self-constructed world, onto a young girl.
Very well done, well shot, well-acted.
However, I watched this with two elderly Japanese friends who did not speak English. They saw it as just another predictable American action movie. The scene in which Ghost Dog kills his main foe by turning off the water to the washroom and then firing his gun up through the pipe when the gangster looked down the drain drew cries of ridicule. They did not understand that the film was ironic. I wonder how Americans would understand its faux-Japanese elements.
Taken literally, the film is embarassing. Taken as intended by director Jim Jarmusch, as a view of self-constructed worlds, it is another funny, tender, sad, and beautiful film by a very talented film-maker.