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An African American mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob.
Ghost Dog: 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. But 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 still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.
Ghost Dog: 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.
Ghost Dog: There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there is nothing left to do, and nothing else to pursue.
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.
Ghost Dog: 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."
[after Vinny shoots a policewoman] Louie: Jesus, Vinny. You just iced a woman, you know that? Vinny: You know what you are, Louie? You're a fuckin' male chauvinist pig. Louie: What do you mean, I'm a male chauvinist pig? You just shot a broad. Vinny: A cop. I just shot a cop. They wanna be equal? I made her equal.
Ghost Dog: You know, in ancient cultures, bears were considered equal with men. Hunter: This ain't no ancient culture here, mister. Ghost Dog: Sometimes it is.
Sonny Valerio: What the fuck is his name? Louie: Ghost Dog. Sonny Valerio: What? Louie: Ghost Dog. Sonny Valerio: Ghost Dog? Joe Rags: He said Ghost Dog. Louie: Yeah. He calls himself Ghost Dog. I don't know, a lot of these Black guys today, these gangster-type guys, they make up names like that. Ray Vargo: Is that true? Sonny Valerio: Sure. He means like the rappers, you know, All the rappers, they got names like that: Snoop Doggy Dogg, Ice Cube, Q-Tip, Method Man. My favorite was always Flavor Flav from Public Enemy. You got the funky fresh fly flavor. [rhymes hip-hop verse] Ray Vargo: I don't know about that, but it makes me think of Indians. They got name like, uhh, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Running Bear, Black Elk. [makes elk noise] Sonny Valerio: Yeah. That kind of shit. Joe Rags: Yeah. Indians, Niggers, Same thing.
[last lines] Pearline: 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.
Ghost Dog: In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.
[first lines] 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.
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. You're my retainer. I don't want to put too many holes in you.
Ghost Dog: 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. In the same way, a single year does not have just spring or summer. A single day, too, is the same. 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.
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 does that mean? Ray Vargo: It's poetry. The poetry of war.
Ghost Dog: 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 than the one it first marked.
[Ghost Dog storms in and aims his guns at Vargo and his Consigliere] Old Consigliere: JESUS, IT'S THE FUCKING BIRD MAN! [has heart attack and dies instead of getting shot]
Ghost Dog: Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty. With martial valor, if one becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die.
Ray Vargo: Did you try to follow the bird? Put a bug on it? Anything like that? Louie: No, I never had a reason to do anything like that. Like I said I realize that the arrangement I made with this guy is pretty weird, but he's always shown me complete respect. Sonny Valerio: Well, a whole new century is coming, Louie, and Mr. Vargo wants every member of his family to make a priority to erase this weirdo. Louie: This guy is a professional. Go after him can be very dangerous. Sonny Valerio: Handsome Frank was one of us so now we're gonna peel this nigger cap back. Better him than you, right Louie?
Ghost Dog: 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 doing it in a long, roundabout way. One's heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by and large there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong.
Nobody: [after a mobster shoots his pigeon] Stupid fuckin' white man!
Louie: Jesus Christ. You just shot Morini. He was Valerio's fucking brother-in-law. Ghost Dog: He had a gun. He was going to shoot you. Louie: What? Ghost Dog: See if he's dead. Louie: Well, I don't think he's getting any older.
Ghost Dog: 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 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.
Ghost Dog: 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.
Ghost Dog: 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.
[interviewing Louie for information about Ghost Dog] 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. [pause] Sonny Valerio: Did you just say he contacts you through a bird? Did I just hear you say that?
Louise Vargo: This is my book. Louie: No, it isn't. I got it off from the dead guy, Ghost Dog. Louise Vargo: It takes place in feudal Japan. [Louie is surprised and speechless] Louise Vargo: It's a really good book. You should read it.
Ghost Dog: Night Nurse? You actually read that? Pearline: No. I just like the cover.
Samurai in Camouflage: Ghost Dog, power, equality. Ghost Dog: Always see everything, my brother.
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.
Louie: For the past four years, he's done, maybe, twelve 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.
Johnny Morini: I'm sorry, Willie, Mr. Vargo, Sonny, Mr.Bonaccelli, he was delayed on his way over. Sonny Valerio: Sit down. Johnny, I want you to step outside, have yourself a smoke. Johnny Morini: Sure, Sonny. Mr. Vargo! [Leaves] Sonny Valerio: We got really a big problem here, Louie. It seems like you're directly responsible for it. Your mystery man fucked up. Louie: But Morini told me he put the girl... Mr. Vargo's daughter on the bus. Sonny Valerio: He did, but she went off the bus and went to Handsome Frank's house. Louie: You wanted Hadsome Frank whacked. So he got whacked. I settled all up, from outside, no traces, no nothing. Morini said she was on the bus, but, Jesus, I mean he's lucky he didn't do her too, right? Ray Vargo: If he had, you would've been fuckin' dead. Sonny Valerio: This is not a good situation, Louie. Louie: Where is she now? Is she all right? Sonny Valerio: Don't worry about Mr. Vargo's daughter. What we need to do is to eliminate the scumbag whacked Frank. Frank was one of us. His killer needs to be neutralized. Erase from the face of the planet. Louie: For the past four years this guy's done, maybe, twelve perfect contracts. Perfect. Like a ghost. He's very valuable, he's totally untraceable. I'm sure he didn't realize anyone was gonna be there when he did Handsome Frank. He would've backed off. And it's sure as hell he didn't know that she was gonna be there. Sonny Valerio: Louie, unless you don't wanna be buried next to Frank. It's time to tell us everything you know about this mysterious, ghost-like, untraceable, fuckin' button man.
Louie: Nothing seems to make sense anymore.
Louie: It's a pigeon. It must be a carrier pigeon or whatever. Old Consigliere: Passenger pigeon! They've been extinct since 1914! Sonny Valerio: Am I fucking dreaming here or what? All right, Louie, forget about the bird, okay?
Sonny Valerio: Did you just say he contacts you through a fucking bird? Ray Vargo: What particular species of bird?
[Deleted scene; accountant exits after sharing some bad news] Ray Vargo: [stunned] Is he gay? Sonny Valerio: He drives a Porsche... [pause] Joe Rags: He's gay!
Ghost Dog: Everything around us seems to be changing, huh, Louie? Louie: You can say that again.
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