Gran Torino (2008) Poster

(2008)

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10/10
Like morphing Archie Bunker with Dirty Harry...this one is full of surprises.
MartinHafer8 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The movie begins with Clint Eastwood's wife dying. You can immediately see that he's a nasty old man who has little, if any, connection with his kids and grandkids (some of which ARE pretty unlikable). He also lives in a community that is now filled with Asians and Chicanos (and gangs) and he hates them—and they don't particularly like him either. At this point, it's hard to like the crusty old guy. He's nasty to the well-meaning priest that's trying to help him cope with the wife's death and he just wants everyone to leave him alone.

Later, despite Eastwood's character wanting his privacy, he is forced to get involved—though it's NOT for altruistic reasons. An Asian gang is trying to force a neighbor kid to join them…by kidnapping him. Unfortunately for Eastwood, the gang is loud and come on his property and he responds by holding them at gunpoint---telling them to leave or die! Unexpectedly, the next day, his Asian neighbors begins bringing him food, flowers and other gifts. Why? Because they, too, have been terrorized by the gangs and they wanted to thank him. In addition, the teen he saved from kidnapping thanks him.…and admits that he'd tried to steal Eastwood's prize old car (a Gran Torino in mint condition) the prior night. Eastwood graciously responds that if he ever sees the kid again on his property, he'll "blow his head off"! This Eastwood character talks a lot like Archie Bunker combined with Dirty Harry---and he just wants to be left alone!! Where the film goes next is somewhat predictable, but how it all ends is simply amazing--and practically impossible to predict. I'd say more, but I really don't want to spoil the film.

The film excels with its witty and very gritty dialog. However, be forewarned that the film has very, very rough language. Not only is there a lot of cursing, but the film has tons of racial epithets--so many that the strongly politically correct out there might just have a stroke if they watch it! While it is vulgar and gross, it was fitting for the story--as gang life is not pretty and sanitizing it too much would have severely impacted the film's realism.

Overall, a great film with expert direction, story and acting. It's clearly one of the best films I've seen of the last decade.
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9/10
A very well done and powerful film
TheLittleSongbird16 November 2011
I saw Gran Torino mainly as an admirer of Clint Eastwood, both as an actor and as director. And I was very impressed, there were parts that amused me and others that had me moved. Gran Torino was a very well made and beautifully directed movie, complete with a fitting soundtrack, a strong script with smooth enough tone shifts and a powerful message that is well conveyed and one that I think many, myself included, would identify with. The story is mostly engaging with an interesting protagonist, but there are a few moments where it is hackneyed and predictable, which is my only criticism of this movie. In regard to the acting, Clint Eastwood gives a very commanding performance and the kids are also very good mostly. Overall, very well done. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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9/10
Teaching The Work Ethic
bkoganbing25 February 2009
At the ripe old age of 78 Clint Eastwood is starting on a whole new career of playing tough old timers who are way past the day when they get the girl in their movies. Except as surrogate daughters which he's done in his past two films, four years apart though they be.

In Million Dollar Baby Eastwood plays the gruff very blue collar fight manager Frank Dunn who takes on female prize fighter Hilary Swank and she becomes a surrogate daughter to him. In Gran Torino the process is somewhat reversed, Eastwood is a recently widowed retired auto worker Walt Kowalski, still living in the family home in Detroit in a rapidly changing neighborhood. In fact that neighborhood's been changing for decades, the latest influx being Asians.

Despite his gruffness, his outright racism, Eastwood almost in spite of himself gets drawn into an Asian family of Hmong people and develops a father/children relationship with a brother and sister, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. He becomes closer to them than he is with his own children whom he feels have forgotten the American work ethic.

Actor Clint Eastwood a veteran of over 50 years in film and television is a man who knows himself and knows the limits and changes that age and infirmity have placed upon him. As his most famous screen character so aptly remarked a man has to know his limitations.

Director Clint Eastwood is nothing short of a genius in the performances he got from the two young Asian kids, both of whom were making their screen debuts and in fact from the rest of his Asian cast members, most of whom were new. Both the boy and the girl were just fabulous and so real as kids, not at all like Hollywood teen player types.

And both kids face some very typical choices that all youngsters face today, especially those growing up in areas at or below the poverty line. Especially the boy who's being pressured to join a gang. Clint himself is facing old age issues, but he still mentors the kids and in the end does what a man's got to do.

It took four years for actor Eastwood to reappear on the screen again. But it was worth the wait. With two back to back hits like Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino, I just hope I don't have to wait another four years for Clint to reappear.
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Adding to the Legend
Michael_Elliott12 January 2009
Gran Torino (2008)

**** (out of 4)

Clint Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski, a racist, Korean war vet living in the slums of Detroit. After the death of his wife he becomes even more distant but things start to change when his neighbor (Bee Vang) tries to steal his Gran Torino. Walt eventually comes around to befriending the boy and trying to teach him the right ways of doing things but a local gang has their own ideas for the boy. I was a little caught off guard with the opening ten-minutes, which were over the top in us getting to know Walt. I think Eastwood really pushed the envelope in showing us what a mean guy this was but in the end these scenes really paid off. I wasn't expecting too much out of this film but it turned out to be another winner for the director. What really shocked me is all the humor in the film, which mostly comes from Eastwood's racist views and names. Believe it or not the comedy coming from this stuff is very strong but once again there's a reason for this. It's not that racism is funny but it goes back to being soft or politically correct in today's world. The film tackles all sorts of subjects and, once again, I was amazed at how much of a character study this was. The screenplay allows each and every character to grow right in front of our eyes and this includes Eastwood's character, the young boy, his sister, his family, the gang members and even the neighborhood. This isn't a film for dummies, so to speak, because it requires the viewer to do a lot of thinking and I'm sure fifty-people could watch this and walk away with a different opinion on what its message is. There's no doubt Eastwood wanted to make a statement on today's issues but at the same time he struck true to the nature of our main guy. As for Eastwood the actor, I wouldn't argue that this is his greatest performance. It's hard to say considering how many great roles he has had but I believe this one will certainly go well with Dirty Harry. The amount of growth Eastwood gives his character was really fun to watch and his comic timing has never been better. The seriousness of the growl in his voice is also in fine form giving fans a lot of great one-liners. There's been some different opinions on the supporting players but I thought they all did fine work and that includes Vang and Ahney Her as the sister. Christopher Carley is also quite good as the local priest. This is a film that doesn't rush into anything and instead it takes its time to deliver the message it wants. It's very doubtful anyone but Eastwood would or could have made a film about a racist who also happens to be the hero of the movie but that's what Eastwood has always been about. Balls. The film has a lot of balls in its message, open politically incorrect attitude and its honesty, which includes the ending. If Eastwood really does retire from acting after this one he leaves us a great film and character to talk about.
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9/10
This unusual Eastwood drama turns out to be one of his very best films
Leofwine_draca24 July 2016
Once rumoured to be another film in the DIRTY HARRY saga, GRAN TORINO is actually much, much more than a crime film. It's not even an action film, or a thriller, despite containing elements from those genres: in actual fact, it's a solid human drama about human relationships, along with ruminations on plenty of issues affecting today's world: immigration, integration into society, crime, violence, friendship, life and death, regret. I can't imagine anyone but Clint Eastwood starring in this film. Eastwood plays his usual character, except older, more frail than more; perhaps the word I'm thinking of is 'more human'. Whatever, he's absolutely astounding in this film, giving a brilliant performance as Walt Kowalski, a foul-mouthed, irritable old racist who gradually uncovers his humanity as the story progresses.

Eastwood surrounds himself with a cast of unknowns, and these actors are also triumphant. Bee Vang, as Thao, Eastwood's initial enemy and then friend, has to be singled out as giving one of the best turns, and he's matched by Ahney Her who plays his sister, Sue. I loved the performances of these two actors, who successfully manage to hold their own against Clint.

GRAN TORINO is a film firmly rooted in reality, which is why there are no gung-ho heroics here, no scenes of grandeur. The ending is particularly true to life, a neat twist that defies audience expectations. The script is sparkling and witty, never losing focus of the main themes, and also particularly moving without being sentimental. It's a difficult line to walk, but this film manages it. In all, a delight and one of the best Eastwood movies I've watched. This one's a keeper.
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7/10
Dirty Harry living in the Hood
SnoopyStyle26 January 2014
Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is an old Korean War hero who recently lost his loving wife. He's a hard cold man of a different generation. He's angry at young grandkids, his new Mon neighbors, and nosy Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). The next door neighbor boy is shy Thao who gets wrangled into trying to steal Walt's Gran Torino by his older gangster cousin.

There are lots of easy stereotypes. Clint is playing the hard man. It might as well be the man with no name in the hood. Clint is acting with a bunch of nobodies. That's the biggest problem in this movie. The other actors are not up to snuff. The only one capable is the girl Ahney Her who can only really hold her own.

In the end, we love this Clint character. That's all that matters. He is compelling, and we have all grown up with this character. We know him. The movie is the better for it.
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8/10
Less Than the Sum of Its Parts
Hitchcoc10 September 2009
I enjoyed this film. Eastwood is about as snarly as I've ever seen him. He has taken Archie Bunker to the next level. He terrorizes his neighbors, is hateful to his children, and incredibly intolerant of a changing world. With that said, this is a story about redemption. It comes in small increments and the charm is not in what happens eventually, but what happens in each small doses. His slow developing relationship with the Hmong family next door. Because he steps in in a crisis situation, their culture sees him as a hero and sets out to reward him. They bring him endless presents and food. Because he leads such a lonely existence, he is slowly, but surely, pulled in. He keeps a balance of hatred for the punks he sees with a true love for those who have befriended him.l

The whole thing kind of slides off into predictability toward the end, but it's a good story and had to end some way, especially with Kowalski's self realizations and his rendezvous with death. The other thing is just watching a masterful actor take on this role and squeeze every last drop out of it.
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5/10
Gran Torino
Prismark101 April 2020
Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is recently widowed and hates the world. This curmudgeon does not get on well with his sons, one of them even sells Japanese cars. Walt is a former army veteran who fought in Korea and then worked for years in the Ford motor factory.

Walt's neighbourhood are full of foreigners. He is racist towards his Hmong neighbours who came here from Vietnam. One of them young, meek Thao is dared by his gangster cousin to steal Walt's Gran Torino as an initiation right. Thao fails and comes first into conflict with Walt.

When Thao is sent over by his family to do some chores for Walt as a punishment. Walt gets to understand the problems facing the young man and his family's plight.

Gran Torino was an inexplicable hit in the USA. It obviously touched a nerve to those Tea Party types, who believe in things such as: Our country is going to the dogs. Make America Great Again by building American cars with white American workers. Cars built to last by workers living in safe white communities.

It is a cynical and manipulative film. Eastwood holds his punches when it comes to racial insults. Walt's a racist but his racial insults are from the 1950s. Warner Brothers knew if you really insulted blacks and asians, then people would boycott the film.

There is only one white youth we see in this film outside of Walt's family. He gets attacked by some black people and runs away leaving his Hmong girlfriend at the mercy of these young black guys. Good job Walt comes along.

Walt's neighbours, the Hmong family gets attacked by a gang led by their cousin. It is never made clear why a family member would do this or even want some nerdy guy like Thao in the gang.

The film is a mess. There are better grouchy old men films than Gran Torino.
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9/10
The Swan Song of the Magnificent Clint Eastwood
claudio_carvalho28 July 2009
In Michigan, the grumpy widower Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a Korean War veteran full of prejudice that has just lost his beloved wife Dorothy. He is one of the last Caucasian Americans in his neighborhood and does not have good relationship with his sons and their families; therefore he is a lonely man. When his teenager neighbor Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) is pressed by his cousin Smokie (Sonny Vu) to join his Hmong gang, he is assigned to steal the Gran Torino of Walt as part of his initiation in the gang. However he is surprised by the old man and his traditional family feels ashamed with the incident. Later Walt saves Thao first and his sister Sue Lor (Ahney Her) later from gangs and he has the gratitude of his next door neighbors and the Asian neighborhood. On the day of his birthday, Walt is invited by Sue to join her family reunion and he begins a relationship with his neighbors, helping Thao to get a job. However he realizes that the Hmong gang disturbs the neighborhood and after a coward attack of the gangsters to Sue, Walt decides to take an ultimate attitude.

"Gran Torino" is a magnificent movie of Clint Eastwood with a wonderful message. It is amazing how Clint Eastwood is able to have only great movies in his long filmography. The story seems to be another tale of revenge "à la Dirty Harry", but has an unexpected twist in the end to a wise conclusion. I believe most of the viewers were expecting a bloodshed in the end, and the coherent conclusion surprised me. I hope this is not the last movie of this great American actor and director. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Gran Torino"
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Poor performances, weak material and clunky development – Eastwood being a gruff and watchable lead cannot redeem the many problems here
bob the moo17 February 2009
Having been recently widowed, Korean war veteran Walt Kowalski finds himself all alone in a community that has seen all his former neighbours replaced with members of the Hmong community. Racist, aggressive, distant from his family, Walt is living out his days with beer on his porch, watching the world go by with a gruff sense of disgust. When he finds his neighbour's son trying to steal his car – a prize 1972 Gran Torino – Walt finds his hatred justified but, when he stands up to the gang that had forced Thao into the crime, he is hailed as a local hero by his neighbours and finds himself drawn into the life of Thao and his family.

Gran Torino is one of the films that benefited from the Oscar buzz around one certain aspect. Much like Mickey Rourke's performance made people think that The Wrestler was perhaps a better all round film than it was, so talk of an acting Oscar for Eastwood has put this film into the public mind as being "Oscar-worthy", even if that has been knocked into a cocked hat before it reached the UK. This perception is the only thing I can think of that has motivated so many IMDb users to vote so highly on this title (well, that and the fact that some users will vote 10 or 0 and nothing in between) because this is not a particularly good film by any means. If you read the boards all you will hear about is the standard of acting being a problem but for me the problems start with the script. You see this is a film that really needs convincing and careful character development to make it work. Sadly this is not what we get as the film is written in steps without a lot of attention to getting between these steps in a way that feels real or convincing. The overall arch of the film is engaging in these steps and I did not have an issue with the actual plot but too often it just feels clunky and clumsy in the writing and it gets weaker and weaker as it goes on. Those doubting my concerns over Walt's transformation being rushed and unconvincing can surely not have doubts over the minor characters – the priest talking to Walt towards the end of the film is perhaps one of the worst written changes in character I've seen! As director, Eastwood cannot fix the problems with the script but he is almost good enough to cover it in his own performance. He does this by being what we already know he is – a big gruff presence that can effortlessly fill a cinema screen. This makes him watchable but the material limits him and fortunately the Oscar voters have not been taken in by sentimentality on this occasion. By comparison though he is fantastic because the commendable idea of casting Hmong actors in their debut performances backfires badly with key players failing to deliver. Bee Vang's Thao doesn't have anything like the range required – he is OK when being natural but anything more demanding is flat. Ahney Her's Sue doesn't even really manage that and, while a "nice" presence she doesn't feel natural and I didn't engage with her or see why Walt would. This problem is not so obvious in the rest of cast they are mostly playing clichés or just hanging around. One person without the excuse of language or inexperience is Carley who is pretty awful but in fairness is given probably the weakest material out of everyone.

The whole thing is a really weak film that sums it all up perfectly with a terrible song with terrible singing from Eastwood. This is the final misjudgement of many but the root of it all is the script which takes a basic premise and delivers it in chunky blocks that don't really scan and pushes the viewer away when it should draw them in. Things that should have an impact don't really work because of this and, although Eastwood is a solid presence, he cannot find much to really work with. The performances outside of him are roundly poor and the main players lack the range to deliver when required. The end result is a really poor film and it is embarrassing to see so many users here stepping it claiming it as a piece of greatest – see it for yourself if you wish, but let me assure you it is nothing of the sort, no matter how much I tried to go with it.
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9/10
Mature and great drama
kosmasp20 July 2009
While the trailer might have led you to believe this could be another episode of Dirty Harry (Callahan) or "What would a retired Dirty Harry do?", this is a much complexer movie/story. Yes the character depicted here by Clint Eastwood, has some similarities with his "Dirty Harry" character, but "in the end", he's very different from him (you will get what I mean, if you watch the movie).

Watching Clint act, you wonder how he does it. It seems that he doesn't put much effort in his interpretation of his role, but he still manages to be spot on, even with a small wrinkle or grunt, he can convey more than some other actors could, in a couple of minutes/sentences. I'm happy that while he's dedicated more time to direct movies, he still finds the time to act too (in this case doing both things), finding roles for himself that have an arc woven into the story. Great, simple and powerful -> Clint Eastwood.
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10/10
"The thing that haunts a man the most is what he isn't ordered to do".
classicsoncall26 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
As great as Clint Eastwood was in all the films spanning his career, I have to believe that he's even greater as a director. In "Gran Torino", his Walt Kowalski could have been portrayed as one dimensional a character as the Stranger With No Name or Dirty Harry. Instead, Eastwood plays a conflicted retiree suffering the loss of his wife and the disintegration of his neighborhood while staving off the attempt of a parish priest to fulfill a promise to a dying woman. It would have been easy to convert Kowalski from a die-hard bigot to a reborn and reinvigorated Christian, but the film doesn't take that easy way out. This reluctant neighborhood hero never aspires to put aside his prejudice, but he does know the difference between right and wrong. I think that's why I admire the film so much. For justice to be truly color blind, one has to act on the impulse of what's right, not who's right. The first time I saw the film, I pretty much figured out what Kowalski was going to do. Knowing that he was dying, Walt sought out his personal peace with the Padre and insulated Thao from the chaos that was about to ensue. What I didn't count on was the measure of self sacrifice that would crystallize the character of this man who had killed in war, but had carried that haunting inside himself for a half century. Walt Kowalski would achieve justice on his terms without compromise, but with immense self sacrifice. Truly a neighborhood hero, the kind that destroys racial stereotypes instead of merely knocking them down.
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9/10
Truly One of the Best Pictures of The Year
gavin69424 October 2009
A Korean War veteran (Clint Eastwood) whose wife has passed on finds himself alone in the old neighborhood, where various minorities have moved in. When a Hmong youth tries to steal his car, Walter begins to confront the people around him and his own prejudice. Can Walter change at this late in the game?

What is really beautiful about this film is the way it approaches the topics covered in it. While seemingly a film about race, it's really more about the gap between generations. Walter doesn't connect with his kids, they don't understand him -- making efforts that are misplaced, if thoughtful -- and there's just a sense that "the old ways" aren't appreciated by many. And the film makes it clear it's not taking sides; while a film about Walter, it doesn't condone or criticize his actions.

The common sense idea that this film is about race strikes me as wrong. Walter is not, in fact, a racist as many have made him out to be. He quickly adapts to his Hmong neighbors and is fairly accepting of them. He uses racial slurs, but never performs any racist actions... and there is evidence that his slurs are meant to be harmless, as he talks the same way to the few friends he has.

Some of the twists and turns are unexpected, and the way the older generation teaches the young (and the young teaches the old) is inspiring. Eastwood claims this is his last film as an actor, which is likely not true, but a high note to go out on if he sticks to it.
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9/10
Clint in Detroit
lee_eisenberg1 July 2009
After a career in which he's played cowboys, cops, and a boxing trainer, Clint Eastwood casts himself in a totally different kind of role. He plays Walt Kowalski, a chronically angry Korean War veteran in Detroit. Further embittered after his wife's death, Walt holds a grudge against the Hmong* immigrants next door. But after Walt saves a Hmong boy, it sets his life on an irreversible path.

Whereas it is common for Eastwood to play a tough guy, this role takes a look at the changing America. Walt - who worked in a car factory for years - doesn't like it one bit that his son helps sell Japanese autos. The Hmong community's presence looks at the rising Asian population in the United States. Specifically, the fact that Eastwood set "Gran Torino" in Detroit - as opposed to San Francisco or Los Angeles - bring to mind the Asian communities across the country, and of course the outsourcing of the car industry (which left Detroit impoverished).

All in all, I definitely recommend this movie. If, as Eastwood says, this is his final acting role, then it is a great end for him. Worth seeing.

*The Hmong are a people in Laos. The CIA hired them to grow heroin during the Vietnam War to fight the Pathet Lao (Laos's independence movement), and many had to flee the country after the Pathet Lao took over.
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6/10
Gran Torino
jboothmillard27 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Star and director Clint Eastwood was rumoured as retiring from acting after this film, if that is the case he has made a good final performance. Basically grumpy, tough-minded, widowed automobile assembly worker and Korean war veteran Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) wants nothing to do with anyone, not his kids, Father Janovich (Christopher Carley) or even his new Asian neighbours, no-one. The only possession he really cares about is his mint condition 1972 Ford Gran Torino, and his new neighbour, teenage Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) tries to steal it. Thao's family are disappointed in him, and they insist that Walt lets him work for him, fixing things for a week as punishment, and doing this Walt does show some humanity. Thao is getting beaten badly by a gang run by his own cousin, and soon enough it gets to the point where all his family get involved in the attacks. Walt sees no other choice but to protect Thao and his family from the dangerous gang attacks, and the final scene is a very brave move for him to make, also being the last. Also starring Ahney Her as Sue Lor, Brian Haley as Mitch Kowalski, Geraldine Hughes as Karen Kowalski, Brian Howe as Steve Kowalski, Dreama Walker as Ashley Kowalski, William Hill as Tim Kennedy, John Carroll Lynch as Barber Martin, Brooke Chia Thao as Vu and Chee Thao as Grandma and Scott Eastwood, Clint's son as Trey. Clint is fantastic in both the serious scenes, towards the end especially, and with his humorous grumpiness with one-liner put downs for everyone. It takes a little while to get to the really interesting stuff with the gangs and danger, but Clint keeps you engaged both on screen and behind the camera in a most watchable drama. It was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Original Song for Jamie Cullum's title song, with music by Clint's son Kyle. Clint Eastwood was number 18 on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, and he was number 61 on The 100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons. Good!
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6/10
Grumpy Old Man
rmax3048236 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It wouldn't be fair to say that Clint Eastwood was coasting through this movie. Nobody who directs and stars in a large-scale production while he's easing towards ninety is able to coast very far. Yet there is a relaxed and sometimes careless quality to this movie about a grouchy, lonely curmudgeon who slouches around mumbling to himself, smoking and drinking beer, cursing his neighbors, rebuking himself for something that happened more than fifty years ago, before his climactic expiation.

One of those next-door neighbors is a Hmong kid named Thao. The Hmong are an internally marginal group who live in the mountains of Southeast Asia. A major effort was made by the US to enlist them on our side during the Vietnam War. A large family of Hmong live in that modest Midwestern house. Thao's initiation into his Asian gang involves stealing Clint's prized and exquisitely preserved Gran Torino. The plot is foiled and Clint gradually finds himself swept up into the dynamics of Hmong home life and Thao's integration into the gang.

At this point in his life, Clint is pretty old and he claims this will be the last film he acts in. Well, the withdrawal is sensible enough. There aren't many roles for men who are so late in life. The ones that are available tend to form a genre of their own. The narrative structure seems to follow a line like that of "Gran Torino." Grumbling old man is bitter and set in his ways, sometimes comically rigid. A new challenge enters his life and he rediscovers his humanity. Paul Newman went through it; Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau; Henry Fonda.

As an example of the genus, this one isn't notable in any way. Except that Clint's profane, mumbling monologues are often pretty funny. And there's an amusing scene in which Clint and his barber try to teach Thao to speak the way real men speak -- nothing but curses and racist insults. As a director he keeps his performers hitting their marks.

The performers themselves aren't always up to professional standards. His Italian barber, John Carroll Lynch, sounds like an actor. The boy and girl from the Hmong family don't quite clear that bar, although their monolingual elders come across as authentic enough.

It's one of Clint Eastwood's lesser efforts but I give him credit for having done it at all. Even at its worst, it's not as insulting to the viewer as some of the meretricious trash affecting our screens these days.
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9/10
Eastwood at his gruff best
Tweekums30 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
When we first see protagonist Walt Kowalski he is at his wife's funeral looking disapprovingly at his family. They clearly have little in common with the old man and have little room in their lives for him. Back home Walt is alone with his dog feeling like a foreigner in his own neighbourhood; all the other European Americans have left and the Hmong who have moved in seem totally alien to him. Thao, the boy who lives next door is being pressured by his cousin to join his gang and as part of his initiation they want him to steal Walt's prized possession; his 1972 Ford Gran Torino. He tries but Walt chases him off. Later they try to force Thao to go with them; Walt might not like his Hmong neighbours but he won't sit by and watch… especially when the confrontation spill onto his lawn. His actions make him a hero to the local community and when Thao comes round to make reparations for his actions the pair gradually bond. Walt also becomes friends with Thao's sister, Sue. He helps Thao find work but the problems with the gang are only going to get worse and, after they brutally assault Sue, Walt realises he must confront them again.

There is a scene in 'Dirty Harry' where his new partner is told how he hates everybody equally regardless of their race… it seems Walt Kowalski is the same character forty years on. He certainly appears bitter and is offensive to just about everybody: Blacks, Asians, Italians and Irish he uses non- PC language to them all. Over the course of the film it becomes clear that it is mostly just his gruff manner; he is just as insulting to them and expects them to give as good as they get. Clint Eastwood is reliable as a director and an actor and in this film he does a fine job in both roles; the gruff Walt Kowalski is the sort of character it is hard to imagine anybody else playing. The supporting cast do a solid job; most notably Bee Vang, who plays Thao; Ahney Her, who plays Sue; and Christopher Carley who plays Father Janovich, a young priest who seeks to help Walt even if he doesn't want to be helped.

Anybody expecting 'Dirty Harry' style action will be somewhat disappointed; there are a few bursts of violence but that isn't want the film is about. It a tale of redemption rather than revenge as Walt tries to save Thao from a life in his cousin's gang and in doing so atone for the act that haunts him; an act that earned him a Silver Star in Korea. As the end approached I feared a cliché finale but that was avoided in a way I never expected but in retrospect was the right end to the story. Overall I really enjoyed this and recommend it; it is a must see for any Clint Eastwood fan.
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7/10
Interesting drama about a retired worker who is living at an Asian neighborhood
ma-cortes27 June 2010
This is a magnificent film played , produced and directed by Clint Eastwood . It deal with elderly Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), he is a disgruntled Korean war veteran , a retired man of a Ford car factory where designed his lush vehicle . He is recently widowed and has only a great passion that results to be his most precious treasure : a "Gran Torino" 1972 . His relationship to his two sons (Brian Howe , Brian Haley )and grandchildren is very troubled , and the circumstances will be forced , against his neighbors Asian immigrants, to confront his old prejudices of when he was in the Korean war. Not wishing the advice of the priest ( Christopher Carley ) , Walt is a grumpy man who has not friends with exception of the barber ( John Carroll Lynch ). He lives a solitary existence with the only company his dog called Daisy in the same house he has lived in for years, which is placed in a working class Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood . Recently, the neighborhood has gone through changes where it is now racially mingled . The next door family, of ethnic Hmong descent includes two foreigner teenagers, lively Sue ( Her ) and timid Thao ( Bee Vang ). Initially Walt wants nothing to deal with his new Oriental neighbors . Slowly, Walt does get involved in Sue and Thao's existences . As his adolescent neighbors' unofficial protector, Walt has to resolve how best to restore his sense of justice in the neighborhood .

We are watching a sensational film in which its message shows us a broody story of friendship , faith, redemption, suffering , pain , memories and feelings ; a right allegation and relentless denounce against racism and the complex relation between cultures . Here the maestro Clint Eastwood gives us a film-making lesson from the simplicity of a thought-provoking screenplay . The performance of Eastwood as gruff retired worker is awesome , he does not disappoint, his presence at the scene is extraordinary. The support cast is also magnificent with special mention the two teenager brothers played by Her and Bee . This film along with the filmed in the 2000s as ¨Invictus ¨ , " Changeling" , ¨ Million dollars baby ¨ ¨Mystic river ¨ make that the dramatic force of this great director turns outs to be breathtaking and impressive . In addition Clint Eastwood surprise us in this film with his facet of singer in the final song. Rating : Above average , worthwhile seeing .
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Clint Eastwood has done it again, a superb character study.
TxMike21 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In the 1970s Ford made a car model called the Gran Torino. The main character in this movie is Walt who, after serving in the Korean War in the 1950s worked for Ford in Detroit. In 1972 he was on the assembly line, and actually installed the steering column of the Gran Torino which resides in his detached garage and workshop in the rear of his modest home, still pristine and Walt's pride and joy.

Clint Eastwood directed and stars as Walt Kowalski, and as the movie opens we are in the local Catholic church at the funeral for his long-time wife and partner. He sneers at the behavior of some of the younger in attendance, and in fact Walt sneers a lot. He sneers at the "rice burner" car one of his sons drives. He sneers at the Asian families in his neighborhood. He seems to just want to be left alone.

The parish priest is Christopher Carley as Father Janovich, who informs Walt that on her deathbed he promised Walt's wife that he would look after him. Particularly she asked that he go to confession. Walt sneered at the priest and told him he didn't want to have any part of that, he only went to church to keep his wife happy.

So that sets up Walt's character, by all indications he has no close ties with anyone now that his wife died, not even his two sons and the grandkids. He sits on his porch, drinks lots of beer, and his usual meal is beef jerky.

But somehow he takes pity on the shy Asian teenager next door, and in Walt's own way berates him into being more outgoing and to assert himself. Bee Vang, in his first movie role, is Thao. When Thao is forced by his older and larger "cousin" to accompany his gang, they tell him he must steal the Gran Torino to show he is worthy. But Walt catches him, and almost shoots him. The family requires that Thao make amends so he is given to Walt for a week or two to work for him. Walt puts him to good use cleaning up the neighborhood, fixing things in disrepair, and in the process teaches Thao some skills, which leads to a job. Walt sees value is trying to save this kid from the Asian gang.

Thao's slightly older sister is Ahney Her as Sue, also in her first movie. She is the opposite of her brother, assertive, but this gets her into trouble with the gang members who want her to submit.

The story is the transition of Walt from a grizzled, indifferent war veteran to one that has a purpose in life. He sees that these two nice, intelligent teenagers will not have a chance to develop their lives with the gang influence around, so he must help figure something out.

SPOILERS: Walt even in his old age is strong and wily, and knows his way with guns and battle. But he has another struggle, lung cancer. He occasionally coughs and spits up blood but doesn't tell others the whole story. Faced with a hospitalization to try to cure him, he instead decides to protect the youngsters. The gang has to be caught in the act, with witnesses, to get them off the streets and into prison. So he shows up at their house one night and, reaching for his lighter, they all shoot, killing Walt. He was unarmed. He gave his life to save these kids, partly in reparation for his having killed any number of young Koreans in the 1950s. In his will, he gave the Gran Torino to Thao, with the provision that he wouldn't paint it or alter it to look like the abominations that many of the younger crowd were doing to their cars.
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10/10
A man comes to grips with his past
blanche-220 June 2009
It's hard to write about the emotional impact of 2008's "Gran Torino," directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. At times, it's so funny, you're crying with laughter, and at other times, so sad that you're crying for a different reason. Whatever it is, it's Clint Eastwood's best performance, and certainly one of his best movies.

Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a recent widower and Korean war vet who doesn't have a relationship with either of his two sons. He's a complete bigot and a racist. He has guilt about the people he killed in Korea. The best that can be said about him, at the beginning of the movie anyway, is that he loves his dog. And that seems to be about all he loves - the dog and his magnificent 1972 Gran Torino. One night, he catches someone trying to steal it and, using his trusty big gun, runs the thief off of his property. It's the Hmong boy next door, Thao (Bee Vang), whose cousin is a Hmong gang member and trying to initiate the confused Thao. "Hmong girls go to college," his sister Ahney (Sue Lor) explains to Walt. "Hmong boys go to jail." Gradually, thanks to Ahney's easy way with him, and the fact that he thinks she's "all right," Walt is lured next door for a family gathering. It's awkward at times, but he loves the food. He detests the gang - he keeps them from assaulting Ahney and stops an attack on Thao, earning him the undying gratitude of Hmong neighborhood. When Thao is sent to work for Walt as an act of contrition for trying to steal his car, Walt takes an interest in the boy's future - and he won't have a future if the gang influence isn't stopped.

What we learn about Walt - and what Walt learns and teaches - is what "Gran Torino" is all about. The car, like Walt, is out of place and part of a bygone era in an old neighborhood largely inhabited now by the Hmong people. Yet he and the car belong there.

The best moments are between Thao and Walt, especially when Walt teaches Thao to "man up" - definitely the funniest scenes in the film. A priest (Christopher Carley) promised Walt's late wife that he would get Walt to go to confession. Carley with his baby face and quiet manner, is very well cast, and the scenes between the two men are very good.

All the performances are excellent, but Eastwood here has created one of the all-time great characters. It's fascinating to see what he has accomplished since he first came to public attention as a robust, handsome western hunk in "Rawhide." He has emerged as a great artist - most of his films are infused with complex characters and profound emotions. Not every performer has the opportunity or ability to grow in his work, but Eastwood was given that opportunity and made the most of it. At 78, he's better than ever.
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7/10
the memorable Golden Years of Walt Kowalski
Quinoa198423 December 2008
Seeing Clint Eastwood now is like looking at a face weathered away on a mountain ridge. The crevices go so deep on his face that one has to put that right alongside the voice, which is now so growl-like (indeed Eastwood's Walt Kowalski does growl in some scenes) that he would be a dead-ringer to play Batman if Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns ever got adapted (yeah, he's in his 50s in the comic book, it's not a stretch really for Clint when you think about it). At 78, you wouldn't want to cross his path down a dark alley, or even just in a diner, without paying some proper respects. It's his presence, if nothing else, that makes Gran Torino compulsively watchable. It may be flawed with some of its dialog and plotting, as well as some key performances. But it's Clint Eastwood directing and Clint Eastwood the star acting in a near perfect two-dimensional performance (it works best as that, anything too much explained actually defeats the strengths of Kowalski for the audience), which makes it a minor must-see.

But there's more. Gran Torino showcases, in some scenes that have blistering comic effect, a rarity in movies: a drama about racism that focuses on a main character who is a kind of dying breed of pre-Baby-Boomer era racist blue-collar white workers who love drinking their beer, cursing out minorities (sometimes just kidding around or what amounts to kidding around, sometimes definitely not). It is in that sense kind of like a Dirty Harry picture, in that Eastwood's character is an equal opportunity offender. But he also is wearing a similar hat to his Million Dollar Baby persona, complete with a pestering Priest and a protégé in Thao (Bee Vang). He's a curmudgeon, and the kind that audience's eat up. At first, indeed, it's instantly comical, like a more parody-like take on the old-man Eastwood persona, grumbling around during his deceased wife's after-funeral dinner and while, well, sitting on his porch chugging Pabst Blue Ribbon and getting his shotgun out at those punk Asian gang-bangers having fights on his lawn.

This leads to the obvious point that what Eastwood does as an actor makes it so watchable because it's layered: we get the "Get off my lawn!" line that made the trailer look as funny as it is- this is, at least for a good half of the movie, a kind of comical Eastwood performance without ever breaking a sweat- and as a soul who can't seem to figure on knowing how to live since knowing death is kind of easy as a veteran. And yet, for all of the joy in watching an icon like him on screen, and for some of the memorable scenes that make it enjoyable (oddly enough, since it's not as good a film as it, more enjoyable conventionally than Changeling from just two months ago), its not up to snuff with what Eastwood's done this decade at his best. In his 70s he's been more or less on a roll, making masterpieces like Mystic River and Letters from Iwo Jima and even near-excellent pics like Million Dollar Baby.

Gran Torino, sadly, isn't one of them; for everything that Eastwood has going for him as star of the picture, he doesn't cast the bulk of the supporting parts well: Vang is actually dead-flat or just flubbing a lot of this character of Thao, and his sister Sue (Her) doesn't far much better. The Father (Carley) is decent but ineffective, and these kinds of average pieces of acting surrounding Eastwood magnify some of the phoned-in qualities in the script. While it goes without saying Gran Torino is nowhere near as hackneyed as Crash or lame as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, for every powerful scene dealing with racism in the picture there's another that's just a little too tidy. It works best to see Kowalski not changing much by the picture's end, being still pretty true to who he is as a good person and a mean SOB, as opposed to silly scenes with the Korean gang who are gone for very long chunks of time from the story.

For everything that doesn't work with the picture though it's just a lot of fun seeing Eastwood as this character. I'm not sure it is his last performance, as I hope it wouldn't be (as an optimist I'd hope he could find just one more icon-defining-and-redefining role before he moves on or retires), but it's not at all a sucker's way out of his iconic place. That's the way Clint, like Walt, would like it.
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9/10
Gran Torino is a fine showcase for Clint Eastwood's supposed final performance
tavm26 January 2009
Clint Eastwood is Walt Kawalski, a Korean War vet who never completely got over the killings he had to do during that time so that probably contributed to the estrangement of his own adult kids' families. When he ends up having to deal with an Asian family from the Hmong area who live next door, however, because of the teenage son's attempt to steal his prized car whose title is this movie's name, Walt feels a bond that grows complicated when a gang (one of whose members is the family's cousin) tries to bully this son and his sister. As this brother and sister, Be Vang as Thao Vang Lor and Ahney Her as Sue Lor give pretty good performances considering their inexperience before the camera. The same goes for many of the other Hmong players. And Clint is fine making this somewhat racist character lovable because of his sense of honor and decency. In fact, the most humorously edgy scene concerns Eastwood, Vang, and a barber played by John Carroll Lynch as Walt tries to prepare Thao for suitable-if politically incorrect-male adult conversation. I also loved the conversation between Walt and Sue after he picked her up from a near-assault from a black gang. If this is indeed Mr. Eastwood's final acting performance, he certainly couldn't have picked a better role to leave on. And his direction is for the most part fine as well. So for me, that's definitely a recommendation for Gran Torino.
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7/10
Gran Torino- When Archie Bunker Goes to Extremes ***
edwagreen8 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Clint Eastwood gives a powerful performance as a new widower, angered by life, and filled with prejudice. Living in a neighborhood that is certainly in transition, does not make the situation any better for Eastwood.

The film is a good one as it shows Eastwood coming around eventually as he sees his oriental neighbors victimized by a violent Chinese gang in the neighborhood.

Of course, the ending may be viewed as far too extreme by many. Yet, hasn't society itself created such situations?

The film shows what extremism can lead to and should be applauded for that.
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Clint Eastwood excels again
Gordon-1128 December 2008
This film is about the unlikely friendship between an old Korean war veteran and a teenage Asian guy.

Clint Eastwood has made profoundly moving films, and "Gran Torino" is no exception. The way the plot unfolds is masterful. From an unapproachable and unpleasant old guy to a friend you can rely on in times of need is a pretty amazing transformation, and the film excels in detailing this change. The film spends almost 30 minutes to prepare for the climax, which leaves me engaged, worrying about the calamity that might happen. This sort of suspense and engagement is almost unprecedented. And when the inevitable climax finally happens, I felt this overwhelming sadness in me. Yes, "Gran Torino" is really that profoundly moving. It is a must watch.
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9/10
Excellent! An Eastwood triumph.
michaelRokeefe6 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Why has this movie and its director/star been ignored by the Oscar committee? Clint Eastwood plays Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski. Walt is recently widowed, but obviously has been crusty and rough around the edges and bigoted and prejudiced for most of his life. Still living in the old neighborhood he is uncomfortable with the Hmong family that have become his new neighbors. He will soon reluctantly befriend the young girl Sue Lor(Ahney Her)and her brother Thao Vang(Bee Vang), who actually tried to steal Walt's beloved 1972 Gran Torino. When crusty Walt defends the brother and sister from a rivalry gang of the Hmong family, he becomes treated as the neighborhood's guardian angel.

My favorite scenes are any and all with Sue Lor answering Walt's non-PC and bigoted comments matching him barb for barb. GRAN TORINO in spite of being pretty predictable, it is a heart-felt human drama finding comedy in indifference.Also in the cast: Brian Howe, Brian Haley, Brooke Chia Thao, Chee Thao and Scott Eastwood, you know who's son.
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