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Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her
Writing Credits:
Nick Schenk

Disgruntled Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a Hmong teenager who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: a 1972 Gran Torino.

Box Office:
$33 million.
Opening Weekend
$29,484,388 on 2808 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 6/9/2009

• “Manning the Wheel” Featurette
• “Gran Torino: More Than a Car” Featurette
• “The Eastwood Way” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Gran Torino [Blu-Ray] (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 19, 2020)

For years, Clint Eastwood resisted public demands to bring back Harry Callahan. Via 2008’s Gran Torino, he threw fans a crumb, as the movie provided the closest thing to Dirty Harry we’re likely to ever get.

Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed Korean War veteran who’s lived in the same suburban Detroit neighborhood for years. Over that time, the area’s racial complexion has changed, which the bigoted Walt doesn’t much like. Still, he stays to himself and deals with his own little world.

This changes when Walt gets to know the Hmong immigrants who live next door. Bookish Thao (Bee Vang) gets harassed by Latino gang-bangers, and his cousin “Spider’s” (Doug Moua) crew intercedes. Spider and his boys pressure Thao to join them, and he eventually agrees.

As an initiation, they force Thao to steal Walt’s mint vintage Gran Torino. Walt thwarts this, but Spider still tries to bully Thao into his gang.

When he tries to drag away Thao, a scuffle ensues. With a gruff “get off of my lawn” – and his old military rifle – Walt drives away Spider and his crew.

Despite his racist antipathy toward the neighbors, Walt becomes a neighborhood hero. Thao’s family forces him to perform chores for Walt to make up for his sins.

Although Walt initially maintains his deep dislike of Asians, his interactions with Thao and his sister Sue (Ahney Her) start to break down his racial assumptions.

After a slew of movies with obvious artist pretensions, Gran Torino felt more like a return to popcorn fare for Eastwood. Oh, the director does pack the film with apparent attempts at deeper themes, as we’ve got death/dying, racism, religion and whatnot.

While those topics exist, they aren’t really at the core of Torino. Eastwood might want us to think he made a meaningful flick about all those topics, but he didn’t.

As I alluded at the start, he essentially created Dirty Harry In Retirement. He can name the character whatever he wants, but Walt’s little more than a stand-in for Harry Callahan, and that factor gives the film its primary kick.

As hard as Eastwood tries to ground Torino in reality, I find it tough to view it as anything other than the same kind of fantasy embraced by the “Dirty Harry” movies. This is politically incorrect geriatric wish fulfillment done up in Western garb.

It may take place in modern day Detroit, but make no mistake: it’s a Western. That side of things becomes more obvious as it progresses, so when we head toward the climax, the gunslinger analogies become even more obvious.

And you know what? All of its pretensions aside, Torino delivers the goods.

I really think Eastwood fares best when he embraces the popcorn side of things and doesn’t worry so much about Making Art. Torino entertains well when it stays with its curmudgeonly lead and his day-to-day interactions. Like Harry Callahan, Walt is unlikable on the surface but engaging in his crudeness.

Do we totally buy Walt’s transformation? Nope.

Granted, the movie doesn’t portray him as a reformed former racist at the end of the tale, and in truth, it may not be fair to even consider him to be “racist”. Walt seems to hate pretty much everybody, so it’s not like he picks on any particular ethnic group.

Nonetheless, as a Korean War veteran, we can potentially see that Walt would maintain a greater disdain for Asians. I’m sure that’s why the story chooses the Hmong as the folks Walt befriends: it seems more remarkable that he could put his lifelong racism aside.

However, it also makes that change tougher to swallow, especially because Walt so quickly accepts his Hmong neighbors. He doesn’t put up much of a fight as he pals around with Thao and Sue.

As far as I’m concerned, however, this doesn’t really matter, though one can easily pick apart many aspects of Torino. Sue exists as little more than a plot device/expository character.

Early in the film, it looks like she’ll become Walt’s main friend, but instead, she’s there simply as a bridge between Walt and Thao. She pops up occasionally to move along the story, but she’s not a real character.

Thao gets better development, but even he remains a bit of a void. When he first meet him, he seems like the scholarly sort, but then we never get any sense of him as smart or studious, and he ends up as a construction worker.

That’s a good occupation, but it doesn’t make sense within his arc. Why don’t we get more of a feeling that Thao will go to college and head down that path?

Because then he couldn’t bond with retired autoworker Walt, could he? Thao’s development doesn’t make much sense in the real world, but it fits the movie, so that's why it occurs.

Despite the mix of missteps, Torino proves consistently entertaining, largely through Eastwood’s sheer willpower. He takes a fairly one-dimensional, potentially unlikable character and makes him a lot of fun.

Seriously, if you can’t enjoy Eastwood’s frequent growls and the biting way he spits out “get off of my lawn”, then you’ll not like anything the man does. This is the kind of role that made Eastwood an icon, and he revels in the part.

Given the chance to let himself go with as much bile and political incorrectness as he can muster, Eastwood has a ball in the role and single-handedly makes the movie entertaining.

So I do have many criticisms of Gran Torino, and Eastwood almost acts in a vacuum, as the leaden performances from Vang and Her can’t remotely keep up with him, and the other supporting performers don’t add much either.

Nonetheless, Eastwood’s performance seems like more than enough to make this an entertaining film. It’s not particularly deep or insightful, but it’s an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C-

Gran Torino appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a generally good image.

Sharpness usually looked positive. Some scenes came across as a bit soft – especially in wider elements - but the flick usually seemed reasonably well-defined.

No issues with shimmering or source flaws occurred, and the transfer lacked edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

Torino went with a heavily teal palette that failed to present many other hues. While this gave it a bland look, the colors seemed depicted as intended.

Blacks were fairly dense, while shadows showed nice delineation. Despite a little too much softness, this became a largely appealing presentation.

Don’t expect much from the decidedly unambitious Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Gran Torino. At no point did the soundfield muster much to make it memorable. The mix emphasized general atmosphere and nothing more.

We got good stereo music and the effects added a little environmental material, but those elements failed to add much. The surrounds remained passive as well.

A few short scenes with gunfire brought the rear channels to life, but those were rare. This was a bland soundscape.

At least audio quality was fine. Music showed good range and delineation, with nice clarity throughout the film.

Speech seemed natural and concise, and effects fell into the same range. Those elements never pushed the envelope, but they were perfectly adequate. The sound was acceptable for a flick of this sort and no better.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The BD’s lossless track felt a bit warmer, but the mix’s lack of ambition left improvements as minor.

In terms of visuals, the Blu-ray offered much improved sharpness, and colors/blacks seemed better rendered as well. Even with the Blu-ray’s inconsistencies, it still brought a much stronger picture than the blah DVD.

Three featurettes appear. Manning the Wheel runs nine minutes, 23 seconds as it includes notes from director/actor Clint Eastwood, writer Nick Schenk, producers Bill Gerber and Robert Lorenz, transportation coordinator Larry Stelling, Peterson Automotive Museum curator Leslie Kendall, casting associate Geoffrey Miclat, co-editor Gary Roach, and actors Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Doua Moua, Christopher Carley and Sonny Vue.

They discuss the movie’s title car and their thoughts about favorite autos. We get a few decent notes about the “casting” of the Gran Torino but there’s not much meat to this superficial program.

Gran Torino: More Than a Car lasts three minutes, 57 seconds and provides remarks from Kendall and Woodward Dream Cruise’s Edward Jablonski, George Calvet, Rex Beasaw, Mark Marison, Clive Brown, Timothy Gregory, Phil DeMaggio and Mark Zivkovich.

A bunch of guys talk about how much they love cars. Yawn.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray, The Eastwood Way spans 19 minutes, 17 seconds and offers info from Eastwood, Lorenz, Gerber, Schenk, Carley, Her, Vue, Vang, Roach, Miclat, Moua, editor Joel Cox, casting director Ellen Chenoweth, Hmong consultant Paula Yang, costume designer Deborah Hopper and actor Brooke Chia Thao.

“Way” looks at what attracted Eastwood to the project and his decision to act in it, story/characters, cast and performances, and the depiction of the Hmong. “Way” offers a semi-fluffy piece but it manages to deliver decent notes about the production.

Gran Torino never threatens to become a great film. However, Clint Eastwood provides a terrific performance and single-handedly turns this into a consistently enjoyable effort. The Blu-ray brings good picture along with mediocre audio and minor bonus features. Though not a memorable release, the movie remains entertaining.

To rate this film visit the original review of GRAN TORINO

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