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Gran Torino

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Overview

A racist Korean War veteran living in a crime-ridden Detroit neighborhood is forced to confront his own lingering prejudice when a troubled Hmong teen from his neighborhood attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino. Decades after the Korean War has ended, ageing veteran Walt Kowalski Clint Eastwood is still haunted by the horrors he witnessed on the battlefield. The two objects that matter most to Kowalski in life are the classic Gran Torino that represents his happier days working in a Ford assembly plant, and ...
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Overview

A racist Korean War veteran living in a crime-ridden Detroit neighborhood is forced to confront his own lingering prejudice when a troubled Hmong teen from his neighborhood attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino. Decades after the Korean War has ended, ageing veteran Walt Kowalski Clint Eastwood is still haunted by the horrors he witnessed on the battlefield. The two objects that matter most to Kowalski in life are the classic Gran Torino that represents his happier days working in a Ford assembly plant, and the M-1 rifle that saved his life countless times during combat. When Kowalski's teenage neighbor Bee Vang attempts to steal his Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation rite, the old man manages to catch the aspiring thief at the business end of his well-maintained semi-automatic rifle. Later, due to the pride of the Asian group, the boy is forced to return to Kowalski's house and perform an act of penance. Despite the fact that Kowalski wants nothing to do with the young troublemaker, he realizes that the quickest way out of the situation is to simply cooperate. In an effort to set the teen on the right path in life and toughen him up, the reluctant vet sets him up with an old crony who now works in construction. In the process, Kowalski discovers that the only way to lay his many painful memories to rest is to finally face his own blinding prejudice head-on.
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Special Features

Manning the Wheel: the meaning of manhood as reflected by the american car culture ; Gran Torino: More Than a Car: visit Detroit and the woodward dream cruise, an annual vintage car event where buffs describe the unique bond between men and vehicles
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
The first time we see Walt Kowalski, Clint Eastwood's character in Gran Torino, he looks like he's about to explode -- literally -- as in spontaneously combust. Standing at his wife's funeral and growling to himself as his family files in, he looks as if he could go nuclear at any given second, like he might take off sprinting through the pews, snapping as many necks as possible in a grim attempt to ensure that his recently deceased wife isn't lonely in the afterlife. The impression that his character makes is direct and unmistakable, and the whispered conversation that takes place between his two sons as they ponder what will become of the rancorous war veteran ensures that we know exactly where he's at in life before the end of the first scene. It's plain to see that Walt has precious little tolerance for foolishness, and now that he's alone, there's no buffer between his bitterness and the outside world. Walt Kowalski is a Korean War veteran who worked the assembly lines in Detroit after returning home from the war, bottling his demons up tight and secure as he got married, started a family, and settled down in a nice house. But over the years, Walt's close-knit community gradually began to change, and as his neighbors all died or moved away, their homes were purchased by low-income families and immigrants, the latter of which were largely Hmong families from Vietnam, seeking to escape persecution for aiding American forces during the war. His next-door neighbors are just such a family, and Walt begrudges them not only for being "zipperheads" and "yammering gooks," but even more so for the fact that their dilapidated, ill-maintained home sits directly adjacent to his perfectly manicured lawn. He's not a very likeable guy, though he largely keeps to himself until one night when he notices someone with a flashlight snooping around in his garage. Assuming the worst, Walt grabs his M-1 rifle and heads down to investigate. Once inside, he confronts bumbling would-be thief Thao Bee Vang, who has been pressured into stealing Walt's vintage Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation rite. But Thao is hardly the gangbanger type; he lives in the house next door, and he's more apt to be caught doing the dishes or gardening rather than roaming the streets looking for trouble. Later, when the gang returns to give Thao a second chance at proving his manhood, the conflict quickly spills over into Walt's yard, prompting the curmudgeon next door to come barreling down the front porch, rifle in hand and ready for action. As a result, the gangsters beat a hasty retreat, and Thao's family begins showering Walt with gifts as a means of thanking him for keeping the boy from falling in with a dangerous crowd. Little does Walt realize that his instinctive action has laid the groundwork for an unanticipated new chapter of his life, a chapter that will teach him not only the true meaning of tolerance, but the value of finally making peace with his past, and letting go of the death that has haunted him ever since returning home from the war. In those early scenes where Walt glares spitefully at the house next door, trading barely audible barbs with the elderly Hmong grandmother affixed to the front porch, the character's overt racism and grizzled rage are played to almost comic effect. It's in these scenes that Eastwood plays it smart, too, by subtly highlighting the things that Walt has in common with his neighbors such as a shot of the wake dinner at Walt's that will later be echoed when he ventures into the neighbor's house for the first time, yet fails to notice while looking through the blinders of bigotry. Walt may be prejudiced and short-fused, yet, despite his outward flaws, he's essentially a decent, hardworking man whose old-school views of race, honor, and dignity are hopelessly out of step with the contemporary era of political correctness. Eastwood realizes that by getting his audience to laugh at Walt, he also opens a door for them to try and better understand the character. We get an early glimpse of Walt's inherent good nature when, after happening across Thao's strong-willed sister Sue's Ahney Her attempt to fend of the advances of some intimidating street thugs, he immediately comes to her rescue. The conversation they share, as Walt drives his thankful passenger home, reveals a lot about both the would-be victim and her grouchy savior, without ever feeling like exposition. It's around this point in the film that Walt becomes something more than just a caricature, and begins to take on actual dimension as a sympathetic character whose outlook on life isn't as simple as his off-putting rhetoric may suggest. The moment serves as a catalyst for a more open dialogue between the disagreeable neighbors, and affords Eastwood and screenwriter Nick Schenk the opportunity to examine how Walt may have more in common with his immigrant neighbors than he does with his own flesh and blood. It makes for an interesting dynamic as Thao crosses the lawn to make amends for causing his curmudgeonly neighbor so much trouble, and as the focus shifts from Walt's prejudice to his attempt to "man up" the feminized teen and come to terms with the atrocities he committed in Korea, we begin to gain greater insight into the complications that can sometimes come with living in a more culturally diverse society. If this truly turns out to be Eastwood's final onscreen role -- as he's frequently claimed in interviews -- it seems like a suitable exit for the seasoned screen icon. The character of Walt Kowalski seems like something of an amalgam of Eastwood's most memorable characters -- from the taciturn Man With No Name to hotheaded Dirty Harry, straight through to his tormented former gunslinger from Unforgiven. It will no doubt be a fairly monumental loss to the world of cinema should Eastwood deliver on his promise never to act again, though at this point, his onscreen signature as a director is nearly as recognizable as his own weatherworn mug. Over the years, his skills as a visual storyteller have sharpened to a fine point, and Gran Torino does have the feel of a swan song, not only due to the specifics of Eastwood's character, but also for the simple fact that the film itself just feels flawlessly constructed. Every action in the film has a consequence, and all of the main players have a pivotal role in affecting the development of the story. For all these reasons, Gran Torino will have a definite appeal for longtime fans of both Eastwood the actor, and Eastwood the director.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/9/2009
  • UPC: 883929033164
  • Original Release: 2008
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:56:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Clint Eastwood Walt Kowalski
Bee Vang Thao
Ahney Her Sue
Christopher Carley Father Janovich
Brian Haley Mitch Kowalski
Geraldine Hughes Karen Kowalski
Brian Howe Steve Kowalski
Dreama Walker Ashley Kowalski
William Hill Tim Kennedy
John Carroll Lynch Barber Martin
Brooke Chia Thao Vu
Chee Thao Grandma
Technical Credits
Clint Eastwood Director, Producer
Bruce Berman Executive Producer
Ellen Chenoweth Casting
Joel Cox Editor
Kyle Eastwood Score Composer
Bill Gerber Producer
Deborah Hopper Costumes/Costume Designer
Dave Johannson Original Story
Jenette Kahn Executive Producer
Robert Lorenz Producer
James Murakami Production Designer
Adam Richman Executive Producer
Gary D. Roach Editor
Nick Schenck Screenwriter
Nick Schenk Original Story, Screenwriter
Tom Stern Cinematographer
Michael Stevens Score Composer
Tim Moore Executive Producer
John Warnke Art Director
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Gran Torino
1. Inevitable Disappointment [3:49]
2. I Confess [4:50]
3. Men of Their Houses [4:28]
4. Chill With Us [4:54]
5. More About Death [2:48]
6. Attempted Theft [3:23]
7. Get Off My Lawn [4:28]
8. We're Not In Korea [2:52]
9. Crazy Old Man [4:36]
10. That Brother of Yours [3:55]
11. Unhappy Birthday [3:32]
12. Not at Peace [4:57]
13. Fixer and Toad [5:11]
14. Making Amends [3:08]
15. Home Improvements [4:01]
16. Nice Talking to You [3:15]
17. Helpful Hands [2:57]
18. Manning Thao Up [3:23]
19. Construction Job [5:44]
20. Making Him Look Bad [3:36]
21. Getting Ugly [2:50]
22. Targets [3:18]
23. Pissed-Off Padre [3:01]
24. What Needs to Be Done [4:14]
25. At Peace [3:01]
26. I Finish Things [2:09]
27. I've Got a Light [5:03]
28. Last Rites and Wishes [2:23]
29. End Credits [4:55]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Gran Torino
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Manning the Wheel
      Gran Torino: More Than a Car
   Languages
      Spoken Languages
         English
         Français
         Español
      Subtitles
         English (For the Hearing Impaired)
         Français
         Español
         Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 46 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Eastwood's farewell, and a damn good one at that

    I consider myself a bit of a film buff. Not extreme, but enough to get by. I've been a fan of Clint's for a very long time. I'm preferential to his westerns, but the Dirty Harry's were pretty worthwhile too. Even his fairly abysmal forays into comedy were alright. And everything was going along great. To me, Unforgiven was Clint's last great movie, as an actor or not. His directorial work throughout the 90's/00's was spotty at best, with overrated garbage like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Flags of Our Fathers flooding the market. Letter's From Iwo Jima was impressive, but not anywhere near the calibur of a Josey Wales or Unforgiven.

    This all seems a bit unrelated to my feelings towards Gran Torino, but really, I'm trying to convey that sense of disappointment I've had for almost 20 years. Unforgiven, to me, was a high point of modern cinema. And then, he dropped the ball. It's like, he lost his touch. He tried something new, and failed. Then comes Gran Torino....

    First and foremost, I wouldnt show this movie to my mother. The beginning is vulgar, and racially minded. It is harsh, and it is brutal. But it serves a point. It shows a window into the mindset of someone that has not only lost his love, but also never grew out of an era. Never changed with the times. This is Dirty Harry meets Grumpy Old Men, and it never apologizes for it.

    The relationship between Eastwood's character and the family nextdoor is real...the way in which the perspectives change is honest and organic. The motivations in the film, and the way in which events crash together is unexplained, but we are instead left to interpret some back story, imagine some senses of honor and loyalty, and fill in the holes in the characterization for ourselves. Because, ultimately, we all know a Walt Kowalski. It may be our grandfather, or the old man across the street, or someone that goes to the same dentist as you. Or, hell, it might be you. But this man, this snapshot of a bygone era, is not a character we need an extensive backstory on. It is not someone whose psyche we need to delve in to. He is what he is, and he is a character we know, and know well. And this is where Eastwood shines. The Man With No Name. Josey Wales. Dirty Harry. These characters are icons. Symbols. They need no history, because they are history. Walt Kowalski follows suit.

    In the end...this was not only one of my personal favorite movies of last year, but also one of the best. It was not a tale of destiny in Mumbai, it was not about everlasting love through the ages, it had no Nazis or former presidents or nuns. It was just about an old man and his intolerance, and his last chance to change. It's a powerful movie, and it's a classic movie, and it's a movie that I think will really resonate throughout the years. If the rumors are true, and this was Eastwood's last film, I can't really think of a finer closing point. Eastwood, playing a crotchety old man who finally understands what it's all about...kind of poetic, isnt it?

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Seeds of Racism and Self Loathing Implanted by War

    Few films have been able to translate an aspect that war can have on surviving veterans - that aspect being the embedded hate for 'the enemy' that dominates the world view of those who have had to fight in the battlefields, a hate that too easily translates into generalized racism that persists throughout the life of the veteran. GRAN TORINO takes on this ugly issue and works it with such compelling force that just when the audience feels is cannot tolerate any more racial slurs a transformation takes place, opening a window to understanding and perhaps altering the poison of racism's effects on our American Family.

    GRAN TORINO as written by Nick Schenk and Dave Johanson and as produced, directed and acted by Clint Eastwood is not a film easy to hear or watch in its early portions. Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) is burying his wife, only to return to his long term home in a neighborhood that has become a sanctuary for Hmong people (an ethnic group from the mountain regions of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Burma who supported US troops and were evacuated to the US after the Vietnam conflict). Kowalski is a prejudiced bigot who loathes the presence of the (unnamable epithets) neighbors. Next door is a family that includes a young loner boy Thao (Bee Vang) and his worldly sister Sue (Ahney Her) - two young people caught up in the Hmong world where the girls go to school and become employed and the boys go to jail. Kowalski reluctantly befriends a gang threatened Thao and the neighborhood rewards him with endless gifts of flowers and food. Gradually an event secures Kowalski's attachment to Thao and Kowalski grows to understand and respect 'the enemy' - people who are genuinely kind and loving despite Kowalski's personality and lonely bitter veteran's life. The transformation of Walt Kowalski as played by Eastwood is genuinely touching and the way in which the movie ends is surprisingly sophisticated.

    There are moments in this bumpy script that are so trite and repetitive and stereotyped that the film becomes almost unwatchable. But it is to the credit of the cast and Eastwood's direction that eventually the repeated verbal slurs of racial hatred make the resolution of the film even more powerful. There are many lessons to be learned by listening and watching this film, not the least of which is insight into the psyches of war veterans from all wars. Grady Harp

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Clint was ROBBED!!!!

    Of last year's films nominated for Oscars, truly "Benjamin Button" was the best. However, Eastwood's "Gran Torino" - a truly exceptional film - wasn't even nominated! Sure the basic plot is grumpy racist old man learns to get along with minorities/young people get off my lawn, but everything about this movie from script to acting is so pitch perfect, I still can't believe he wasn't nominated for best director, or best actor for that matter. Intense. I was still crying ten minutes after the movie was over. Clint was ROBBED!!!! See this movie.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Prejudice and Racism - No longer ignored!

    Gran Torino is an enlightening story about the realistic racisms that flood the minds of many people in society today. The script refuses to fluff up reality, and it fights ignorance in a distinguishable way. It uses profane, violent scenes and language to depict the unfortunate prejudices and stereotypes developed by a world in constant motion. The emotional script reveals the true depth of the human heart in an upfront, bold way.

    I would recommend this movie to an older audience that would be able to handle the mature nature of the film. This story has the ability to spark an informative, expressive conversation, yet it forces each individual to look inside himself and reflect upon one's own prejudices.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Spotlight on racism - Everything unveiled!

    Gran Torino is an enlightening story about the realistic racisms that flood the minds of many people in society today. The script refuses to fluff up reality, and it fights ignorance in a distinguishable way. It uses profane, violent scenes and language to depict the unfortunate prejudices and stereotypes developed by a world in constant motion. The emotional script reveals the true depth of the human heart in an upfront, bold way.

    I would recommend this movie to an older audience that would be able to handle the mature nature of the film. This story has the ability to spark an informative, expressive conversation, yet it forces each individual to look inside himself and reflect upon one's own prejudices.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    good old clint

    a good film for a saturday night

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    THE ENDINGS (IN 2 PARTS) ARE AWESOME AND IN SOME WAYS UNPREDICTABLE!

    Clint Eastwood was spot on...A memorable performance. Tells you a lot about our society...young and old.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great story line

    enjoyed the movie, great plot and story line

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not a typical Eastwood movie

    I was pleasantly surprised with Gran Torino! The movie was well paced and very interesting. And who could have predicted the ending????

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Eastwood ever

    Over the years I have watched all the Eastwood films as he has evolved into a more serious actor. In my estimation this movie will become an all time classic. It is not only entertaining it has notable character development. As the story line progresses it demands more and more of your attention even though it is a little bit predictable.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A great senior citizen movie

    As a Senior, one of the best movies I've seen in years.
    Just goes to show... don't mess with us senior citizens, especially those that deeply care but just don't don't choose to show it.
    The plot is truely origonal and the acting is very believable.
    Clint Eastwood needs to win an oscar for this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Gran Torino

    I enjoyed the movie at the theater so decided to buy it. It was as enjoyable the second time around.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a very real movie that addresses a number of issues of faith, religion, economics, family, prejudice and love. I would highly recommend it with the explicative warning.

    .

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    grand Gran Torino

    Top notch Vintage Clint Eastwood great flick only downside is the language I believe that the English language is diverse enough that one doesn't have to use expletives to get the meaning of the dialog across
    But Mr. Eastwood is supurb as usual.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Another good one from Eastwood

    Once again, Clint Eastwood delivers a moving and smart film.

    As the director, he delivers on the unspoken promise to not insult his audiences and it works.

    As the actor, Eastwood is always interesting to watch. The other actors are good too.

    Scrennwriter Nick Schenk did a fine job with the screenplay from the compelling story by Dave Johannson and Schenk

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gran Torino

    Mr. Eastwood has directed and acted in his best movie ever. El Torino is a must-see movie for everyone; especially if you are in the process of raising children in today's world. One could argue that El Torino is an epiphany of sorts that is so profound it could go unnoticed. I hope not. Perhaps, in a round-about-way it could be considered in a similar light and I do mean brilliant light like Henry David Thoreau's best works. It is now available on DVD and I would recommend it for everyone. Although the profanity is frequent the Thoreau-like thesis of the movie is excellent.
    "Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
    There came a low, harmonious breath:
    For such as he there is no death;--
    His life the eternal life commands;
    Above man's aims his nature rose.
    The wisdom of a just content
    Made one small spot a continent,
    And turned to poetry life's prose."
    (Louisa Alcott's Tribute to Henry David Thoreau)

    The cantankerous old man/character played by Eastwood is transformed from a spiritually-deprived "old fuddy-duddy" racist to a Christ-like spiritually rich Catholic before he crosses over. In the process he transforms a neighborhood block from the typical keep-to-your self /no love/no time for neighbors' existence to one that is profoundly filled with Hope, Faith(s) and the greatest of all Love.

    Although I hope this is not Clint's last movie, I do believe it is his best movie ever. The inclusion of his two sons' typical and spiritually deprived "cell-phonic" self-centered/serving families anchors the disparity between where we are in America and where we must eventually go, hopefully before we, indeed, pass-on.

    Well done Clint!

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    Posted November 1, 2009

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    Posted August 10, 2009

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    Posted December 1, 2010

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    Posted December 29, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews