Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gran Torino

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed by, produced by, and starring Clint Eastwood. The film marks Eastwood's return to a lead acting role after four years – his last leading role being Million Dollar Baby. The film features a predominantly Hmong cast, as well as Eastwood's younger son, Scott Eastwood. Eastwood's older son, Kyle Eastwood, provided the score. The film opened to theaters in a limited release in North America on December 12, 2008, and later to a wide release on January 9, 2009.

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a retired Polish American Ford automobile assembly line worker and a Korean War veteran, lives with his dog Daisy in a changing Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood which is dominated by immigrants. At his wife's funeral, Walt bristles at the shallow eulogy of young Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). He looks on with disgust at his two sons, Mitch (Brian Haley) and Steve (Brian Howe), and their families, who show little regard for the memory of Walt's wife. Walt views his relations as rude, spoiled, and self-absorbed, always avoiding him unless it is in their own interest.

Walt's teenage Hmong neighbors, a shy Thao (Bee Vang) and his feisty sister Sue Vang Lor (Ahney Her), live with their widowed mother and grandmother. A Hmong gang, led by Thao's older cousin Spider (Doua Moua), tries to persuade Thao to join them. Thao's initiation is to steal Walt's prized car, a 1972 Gran Torino Sport. Walt interrupts the robbery, forcing Thao to flee. After a few days, Spider's gang visits Thao and attempt to assault him. Although his family tries to fend off the gang, the conflict ends when Walt, who fought in the United States Army's 1st Cavalry Division, threatens the gang members with his M1 Garand rifle and orders them to get off his lawn. They leave the neighborhood, telling Walt to watch his back. The Vang Lors thank a grumpy and impatient Walt, who insists he only wanted the "gooks" off his property. When the neighborhood hears what Walt did, they leave him gifts on his porch.

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