This movie was highly recommended by my brother James, so when I was given the opportunity to review the DVD, I jumped at the chance.
It was excellent.
Sort of a weird combining of Dirty Harry meets The Karate Kid; Clint Eastwood being a gruff and grizzled Mr. Miyagi and Vietnamese next-door neighborhood being the bullied Ralph Macchio character.
The film sets Eastwood's Walt Kowalski up as a cranky geezer, but frankly if my son let his daughter come to her grandmother's funeral dressed like something out of a Britney Spears video, I'd be pissed as well. Walt's bitter barbs are also directed at the local priest, which was also understandable given that he was annoying as hell.
The film revolves around the recently widowed Kowalski, who sees the lifestyle he always known slipping away, and his growing relationship with his Vietnamese neighbors. Kowalski, a veteran of the Korean war, initially despises his foreign neighbors but eventually comes develop a friendship with them and to take young Thao under his wing.
It was awesome to see Eastwood in all his "Make my day" glory--although his raspy whisper did grate at times. As Kowalski goes toe to toe with gangbangers, you can't help but admire his courage. There's some heavy-handed and awkward scenes like the weird reading given to Walt when he visits Lor family and the final confrontation overdoes the messianic sacrifice symbology with Kowalski laid out as if crucified. But mostly the film hits the right notes.
If you missed it in the theaters, definitely add it to your Netflix queue.
And if, like my brother, you loved the flick, mark June 9th on your calendar. Gran Torino will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on that date and will include two special features:
- "Manning the Wheel: The Meaning of Manhood as Reflected in the American Car Culture"
- "Gran Torino: More than a Car"