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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Gran Torino can be found here.
Korean War veteran and newly-widowed Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), now living in a mixed race neighborhood in Michigan, becomes involved with his next door neighbor, Hmong teenager Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang), when Thao tries to steal Walt's prized possession, a 1972 Gran Torino. Because Thao only tried to steal the car under pressure from his gang member cousin, Walt takes him under his wing and finds himself taking steps to protect Thao's family and his sister Sue (Ahney Her) from the gangs that infest their neighborhood.
Gran Torino is based on a storyline and screenplay by American screenwriters Nick Schenk and Dave Johannson.
Angry at how the gang beat and raped Sue (Ahney Her), Thao wants revenge, but Walt tells him to remain calm while they figure out a plan of action. Thao goes home, and Walt goes out for a shave and a haircut. He buys himself a fitted suit and makes his confession with Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). When Thao joins him at 4 p.m. to find out what they're going to do, Walt locks him in the basement. He drops off his dog Daisy at the Vang Lor house, then drives to the home of the gang members. In a loud voice, which causes all the neighbors to peek out their windows, Walt confronts the gang members. He takes out a cigarette and asks for a light. When no one produces one, Walt slowly reaches into his jacket, and withdraws his hand quickly, tricking the gang into thinking he is pulling a gun, so they open fire on him. Walt falls to the ground, revealing a cigarette lighter in his hand. Sue, having been previously alerted by Walt, lets Thao out of the basement, and they drive over to the shooting scene where the police tell them that the gang members will be imprisoned for a long time due to the number of witnesses. The funeral is attended by Walt's family and the Vang Lor clan. At the reading of the will, Walt shocks his greedy family by leaving his house to the church and his Gran Torino to Thao. In the final scene, Thao and Daisy tool along in the Gran Torino.
For many reasons. Early in the film, Walt is seen coughing up blood and looking at test results/hospital admission forms, which suggests that he is dying from lung cancer. He mentions that he's already got a stained soul and has been wracked with guilt every day for all the people he killed in Korea, including a young boy not dissimilar to Thao. If Thao had come with Walt to the gang's house and successfully exacted revenge, he knew Thao would have their deaths on his conscience, as well as potentially going to prison, which would ruin his life. Or Thao would be killed, for which Walt would also have felt responsible. So, as an old man dying of cancer, he sacrificed himself to preserve Thao's future and to ensure that the gang is sent to prison. In the act of sacrificing himself, Walt gained redemption for his past.
The movie doesn't go into the details of all his possessions, such as his bank account, tools, furniture, etc. The two main points of contention are his home (which his son Mitch (Brian Haley) wants) and his Gran Torino (which his granddaughter Ashley (Dreama Walker) wants). He leaves the house to the Church "because Dorothy would have liked that" (and perhaps because he had developed a grudging respect for the padre). He leaves the car to Thao whom he was proud to call his friend. He says in confession that he regretted not being a very good father to his two sons but says he didn't really know how. It is clear throughout the movie that he does not have a good relationship with his actual family.
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