im Jarmusch lays his hand on the pulse of urban America with this new gangster flick. Blending ancient Eastern wisdom, modern dysfunction, old-school Mafia moral codes of honor and loyalty, and contemporary pop culture, Jarmusch has created a stylized comparison of several different cinematic traditions that all share similar roots. Hip-hop culture made the comparisons long ago, exemplified best in the music of the Wu-Tang Clan, meshing quotes from old martial arts flicks with Ennio Morricone samples--making the Clan's founder, The RZA, the obvious choice for the soundtrack (he also makes a cameo appearance). Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) is a solitary black man who lives by the codes of the ancient samurai, working as a contract killer for a small-time mobster to whom he owes his life. It's a perfect set-up, until Ghost Dog makes a grievous error that he must pay for with his own life--but the modern world is not as simple as an old gangster flick. See "Opening Friday" for theaters and times.