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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Gran Torino" is a different kind of Clint Eastwood movie. Yes he still has a gun (you will have to see how he uses it) but his character is different from any that I have seen him play again. In this movie, Eastwood plays the role of Walt Kowalski, an elderly, crotchety, widower, who, living with his legacy from the Korean War, gradually comes to terms with his ethnically changing, gang infested neighborhood. Key characters include his Hmong neighbors, played by Bee Vang, Ahney Her and a young priest, played by Christopher Carley. All turn in compelling performances as they slowly gain new understandings of those around them. As the story progresses, Kowlaski moves from a not very likable old man to a personification of the Christ motif found so often in literature. By the end, the viewer realizes that he is viewing a modern Morality Play.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2009
If anything, this movie cements Clint Eastwood's reputation as one of cinema's great talents. What's even more impressive, in addition to his jaw-dropping performance, is that he also directed this film.

Fans of Dirty Harry especially will love this one, as Eastwood reprises his tough guy role. In here, he plays a retired Ford auto worker and widower who lives in a run-down Detroit neighborhood. When gangs threaten his livelihood as well as those of his neighbours, Eastwood takes matters into his own hands, in spectacular fasion. Simply put, one of the best and most entertaining movies of this decade. Very highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon September 14, 2011
Throughout his illustrious acting career, Clint Eastwood has delivered a series of iconic characters, such as The Man with no name, Dirty Harry, Josie Wales, and Will Munny in Unforgiven.

Throughout his illustrious directing career he has delivered outstanding movies such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, for which he has won five Academy Awards, for best Picture, Best Director, and including the Irving Thalberg Life Achievement Award.

The actors who have worked with him have been blessed with Oscar: Gene Hackman for Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn for Mystic River, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby.

In Gran Torino he both directs and acts, and delivers an acting performance that will be remembered long after the final credits roll, in its unique way, as memorable as any other character he has created.

Gran Torino is the second best movie I have seen this year. Not just for the acting, not just for the directing, but for the storytelling, and the emotional journey on which it takes you, the laughter, the feeling of being gripped, and its more surprising moments.

In the opening scenes, we have the exposition of the character. We get to know Walt Kowalski, by how people act around him, and his seemingly hateful attitude towards people. More is conveyed through a scowl, and a snarl than with words. When the mischievous grandchildren go through his stuff in the basement, we see the Silver Star he won in Korea. There are three other important symbols in the movie, the lighter, the gun, and the car.

We see a hero with a warrior past, a patriot who fought for a cause greater than himself. Clearly, his bigotry stems from those experiences.

He's not just mean, he's 'get of my lawn' mean. He's Dirty Harry 'Go ahead punk, make my day!,' mean.

His dead wife's priest bugs him to hear his confession, at her request. The priest in a way is his wife's conscience.

When he snarls down the barrel of his rifle, at the neighborhood punk: 'I could blow your head off, and sleep like a baby,' you get the sense that he means it.

So, with all that happens, we see the change in his decision making, from someone reluctant to be involved in his neighbor's affairs, and a story can turn on something as random as looking at an empty beer cooler.

For all his faults, Walt has mature masculine character. Even though he is a difficult father, he has taught his children character. So, when he sees the boy next door lacks character, and a strong male role model, he takes him under his wing, and teaches him how to be a man.

The scenes where the boy practises Walt's high octane ball busting banter, are the funniest in the movie. Through knowing Walt, he makes decisions he never would have made by himself. In so doing, Walt finds meaning and purpose, and a chance for redemption, and the boy becomes a man.

The Academy's actor awards tend to go to actors in two types of role:

1.Psychopath- No Country for Old Men, The Usual Suspects, There Will Be Blood, Training Day, Silence of the Lambs.

2.Mentally Disabled, Social or Physical Handicap, overcomes great adversity or discrimination- Shine, As Good as It Gets, A Beautiful Mind, Ray, Scent of a Woman, Capote, Philadelphia, The Pianist, A Beautiful Life.

Every rule has an exception. Russell Crowe in Gladiator played a character with thematic similarities to Walt.

For a 78 year old man to direct and be lead actor in a movie of this caliber is an achievement worthy at the very least of being nominated for the highest award for Acting, Directing or both.

I hope you find this review helpful. Amazon USA 2009.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2009
I have buying all my movies on blu-ray and even re-buying some of the ones I have on DVD on blu-ray as well if I feel they are worthy. I generally try and buy the visually appealing ones on blu-ray such as action packed or sci-fi stuff. So I was hesitant to get this one on blu-ray, mostly talking, not really any action...but I ignored my instincts and got the blu-ray. I swear if someone had told me this was a blu-ray I wouldn't have believed them. I actually took the disc out after it was over and checked to see if it said blu-ray on it because I swear to god it was a DVD. The sound was nothing special at all, even the scenes with the gunfire sounded muffled, when I remember it being booming in the theater. The picture seemed saturated and grainy, nothing seemed defined or stuck out at all. So I watched the digital copy on my computer and while the picture looked the same, the sound was vastly improved. changing the audio settings on the disc did nothing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2009
Gran Torino is one of the best movie's I have ever seen. I was totally flabergasted that it wasn't even nominated for an Academy award. This is a powerful movie that explores several themes: racism, remorse and redemption, social justice, and more. It's one of those movies that stays with you for days afterwards. The ending is so powerful that when I saw it in the theatre you "couldn't hear a pin drop" as people exited the theatre. This is definitely one of Eastwood's best and considering it's the last movie he says he will be acting in, it was the perfect grand finale performance for him. This is definately one to own!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2009
Previous reviews said everything that needed to be said.

I really enjoyed this movie, and believe me, I am very very picky and originally had no intention of picking up the title.

But my father wanted to see it so from there it came into my living room. We really enjoyed the mix and how they really showed how the older generations really judge the younger one and you see both good and bad sides of society, cultures and all.

If you are looking for something to relax and watch a friday evening, pick this title up, you are sure not to be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2009
Despite some of the controversial remarks mentioned about the movie , I have to say that I truly enjoyed watching it. I feel it was not the best role Clint has ever played but had a lot of his famous one liner's, most of which made me laugh out loud. The acting was not the greatest, but all in all it was a good movie and showed us that there still is a lot of racial discrimination going on. That being said, the hate is all but dissolved by the end of the movie and Clint's Character isn't seen as the mean ol' [...] he once was and in fact a misjudged hero.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 29, 2012
Gran Torino (2008)
Drama, 116 minutes
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her

Gran Torino was a total surprise to me when I first viewed it. I had no idea what it might be about and the cover suggested it would be an action movie. With Clint Eastwood being almost 80 years of age at the time, I couldn't see how it would work.

It turns out that it isn't an action movie at all. The main themes include age, the loss of a loved one, racism, friendship, family, religion, and personal growth.

Walt Kowalsky is a Korean war veteran and one of the last white people in a neighborhood mostly populated by Hmong residents. The film opens with his wife's funeral. He's suddenly friendless and alone, but for the unwanted attention of his two sons and their families, who see him as a burden and wonder what he'll leave them when he dies.

The local priest (Carley) promised Walt's wife that he would keep an eye on Walt and try to get him to go to confession. His immediate neighbors annoy him; especially when their boy, Thao (Vang), tries to steal his beloved '72 Gran Torino. To complete Walt's misery, he's coughing up blood and may not have long to live.

That all sounds pretty miserable, doesn't it? Despite the grim situation, Gran Torino has a great deal of (intelligent) humor. Walt doesn't pull his punches: he refers to Asians as Gooks and Blacks as Spooks. He tells the persistent priest that he's an "over-educated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of old ladies who are superstitious and promise them eternity." He speaks in grunts and snarls and seems to hate every person he deals with.

Walt is a complex character. His neighbors convince him to accept Thao's apology for trying to steal his car by offering the boy's labor for a week. Thao works hard and earns Walt's respect. The two actually develop a friendship of sorts and Walt also likes Thao's sister, Sue (Her). As unlikely as it may seem, from Walt's perspective, he finds that his neighbors are decent people and takes an interest in their lives. He finds that he has more in common with them than his own family.

I won't give away any more details, but the story shows how people still have the capacity for change, despite advanced age and a lifetime of behaving in a certain way. The humor is frequent, with Eastwood timing his lines perfectly. At the risk of sounding dramatic, this might just be Eastwood's best acting performance. It's certainly my favorite performance from those that I have seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
You'd think as Clint gets on in years, as a director he would be starting to slow down. You might think that as an actor, he'd have lost some of what made him such an imposing individual in his younger days. But this is simply not the case. If anything, this is The Man With No Name in his golden years. This is a retired Dirty Harry who's still trying to find peace in his last days.

The box is a little misleading if you hadn't heard anything about this movie before. A vintage car and Clint with a gun. But this isn't an action film, it's a story of a man who never really connected with his own kids, taking a troubled youth under his wing. One of the things I really enjoyed is the fact that the character of Walt is such a gritty, realistic portrayal of a senior citizen who's spent some time in the military: he's racist, and he believes that men should have certain skill sets, a mindset that's becoming more and more archaic. It's a great story, VERY vicious in its portrayal of the lengths these gang members will go for revenge, and a really interesting ending. You won't be disappointed if you're a Clint Eastwood fan, no matter if you're a fan of his old spaghetti westerns or his modern work as a film maker.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 6, 2010

"A Mexican, a Jew, and a coloured guy walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, 'Get the f**k out of here!'"

The above "joke" is said by this movie's main character, Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood, who also directed and produced this movie.)

This story follows Walt, a recently widowed Korean War veteran who is alienated from his family and angry at the world. Walt's young Hmong American neighbour Thao (or "Toad" as Walt calls him) tries to steal Walt's prized 1972 Ford Torino (or, more specifically, a Ford Grand Torino Sport Sports Roof) on a dare from his cousin for initiation into a gang. Walt develops a close relationship with the boy and his older sister. The gang does something to the older sister and Walt vows revenge declaring that "They won't stand a chance [against me]."

(Hmong or Mong Americans are residents of the U.S. who are of ethnic Hmong decent. Indigenous Hmong are specifically from the mountainous regions of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Burma. The Hmong are also one of the subgroups of Miao ethnicity in Southern China.)

Despite the movie's deceptive simplicity, it evolves into something complex, powerful, and even tender.

For those who like lots of mindless action in their movies, this movie can become tedious. However, those with patience will be rewarded by this movie's end.

This movie marked Eastwood's return to leading actor status after four years (his previous leading role was in the movie "Million Dollar Baby"). The then 78-year old delivers a superb performance in what he has said is his final film as an actor.

Eastwood can make "Get off my lawn" (while aiming an M-1 rifle) sound as menacing as Dirty Harry's "Make my day." When he says, "I'll blow a hole in your face and [then] sleep like a baby," he sounds as if he means it.

Beware that despite some moments, Walt's toughness is more verbal than physical.

This movie features a large Hmong American cast. Even though the actor who played Thao (Bee Vang) and the actress who play his older sister (Ahney Her) had no previous acting experience, they hold their own with Eastwood and give convincing performances.

(Note that Eastwood's young son, Scott, also has a small part in this movie.)

The song in the movie titled "Gran Torino" was nominated for the Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song. This music was a collaborative effort of four people that included Clint Eastwood (who sings briefly during the end credits) and his oldest son, Kyle Eastwood, who wrote the music.

This movie was recognized as one of the ten best films of 2008. Eastwood's performance gained recognition winning "Best Actor" from the National Board of Review. As well, this movie has grossed almost ten times more than what it cost to make.

Finally, the DVD (the one released in 2009) is perfect in picture and sound quality. It has two extras.

In conclusion, this is simply a remarkable movie. I leave you with what Walt says to a young priest, the priest who presided over his wife`s funeral:

"I think you're an overeducated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of superstitious old ladies and promise them everlasting life."

(2008; 1 hr, 55 min; wide screen, 29 scenes; rated `R')

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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