Gran Torino (2008)

Gran Torino 2008tt1205489.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Gran Torino (2008)
  • Rate: 8.3/10 total 228,086 votes 
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Date: 9 January 2009 (USA)
  • Runtime: 116 min
  • Filming Location: 204 W 11 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
  • Budget: $33,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $148,055,047(USA)(7 June 2009)
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Stars: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang and Christopher Carley
  • Original Music By: Kyle Eastwood  Michael Stevens   
  • Soundtrack: We Don't F* Around
  • Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS
  • Plot Keyword: Gang | Hmong | Gran Torino | Veteran | Korean War Veteran

Writing Credits By:

  • Nick Schenk (screenplay)
  • Dave Johannson (story) &
  • Nick Schenk (story)

Known Trivia

  • One of the first films to take advantage of a new Michigan law providing tax incentives to film productions.
  • Open casting calls for Hmong actors were held in Hmong communities in Detroit, Michigan; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Fresno, California. Only Doua Moua had been in a film before.
  • Clint Eastwood encouraged the Hmong actors to ad-lib in Hmong.
  • This film was once falsely rumored to be a final installment in the Dirty Harry series.
  • Gran Torinos were built in Lorain, OH, about two hours from Detroit. The truck Walt drives, however, could have been built in Wayne, Michigan, twenty miles from Highland Park.
  • Walt Kowalski’s gun collection seems to consists of weapons he used in the military. His rifle is an American M1 Garand, a 9.5lb .30-06 gas-operated rifle. It was first issued during WWII, then re-issued in Korea before being phased out by the M14 selective fire .308 rifle. His pistol is an M1911A1, a .45 ACP semi-automatic handgun also issued during the Korean war.
  • Clint Eastwood’s first acting role since Million Dollar Baby. He stated that this will be his last movie as an actor; however, he said the same about the earlier film.
  • Clint Eastwood’s character’s name, Walt Kowalski, is the real name of legendary wrestler, ‘Walter “Killer’ Kowalski’.
  • The jersey Walt’s grandson wears at the funeral is that of former Lions wide receiver Roy Williams.
  • In box office terms, the most successful Clint Eastwood movie ever, both in the U.S. and the U.K, but not with inflation.

Goofs: Continuity: In the scene where Thao goes along with Walt to the barbershop, the barber's jacket zipper changes position several times.

Plot: Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino. Full summary »  »

Story: Walt Kowalski is a widower who holds onto his prejudices despite the changes in his Michigan neighborhood and the world around him. Kowalski is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy an old man, who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor Thao, a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Thao's family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that infest their neighborhood.Written by alfiehitchie  

{tab=Synopsis}

Synopsis: Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a retired Polish American Ford automobile assembly line worker and Korean War veteran, haunted by memories of that conflict, lives with his Labrador Retriever Daisy in a changing Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood which is dominated by immigrants. At the start of the movie, Walt is attending his wife’s funeral, bristling at the shallow eulogy of young Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). Similarly, he has little patience with his two sons, Mitch (Brian Haley) and Steve (Brian Howe), and their families, who show little regard for Walt’s grief or the memory of their dead mother. Throughout the movie Walt views his relatives as rude, spoiled and self-absorbed, always avoiding him unless it is in their own interest to pay him some attention. Walt’s sons see him as "always disappointed" with them and their families, unaware of their own obnoxiousness. Father Janovich tells Walt that his late wife, Dorothy, made Father Janovich promise to try to get Walt to go to a confession. Walt writes Janovich off as knowing nothing about life or death, and insists on being called "Mr. Kowalski" rather than "Walt" because he feels he neither knows, nor wants to know, Father Janovich.

Walt’s teenage Hmong neighbors, a shy Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) and his feisty sister Sue (Ahney Her), live with their widowed mother and grandmother. When a Hispanic gang confronts Thao, the Hmong gang, led by Thao’s older cousin Spider (Doua Moua), helps Thao by frightening the Hispanic gang and forcing them to flee. The Hmong gang, at that point, 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, pointing a rifle in Thao’s face and forcing him to flee. After a few days, Spider and his gang return. With Sue at his side, Thao manages to verbally confront them to no avail. The gang drags Thao off his porch in an attempt to assault him. His family tries desperately to fend off Spider and his cohorts. The conflict ends when Walt 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 of Walt’s brave act, they reward him by leaving on his porch gifts of Hmong dishes and garden plants. Thao admits to trying to steal his Gran Torino. Walt is not pleased, seeking only to be left alone. Father Janovich goes to Walt, reminding him of his wife’s desire for him to go to confession. Walt refuses.

Mitch and his wife, Karen (Geraldine Hughes) go to visit Walt on his birthday, bringing him a cake and a few gifts meant to make certain menial tasks easier. Presentation, and explanation, of these gifts quickly turn into a shamelessly brazen pitch to get Walt to move into a senior’s retirement home. Knowing that Mitch and Karen just want to get their hands on his house, Walt growls in anger and throws them out; gifts, cake and all. Mitch and Karen cannot understand Walt’s reaction.

After seeing Sue being harassed by three black teenagers, Walt steps in to rescue her, confronting the teenagers and threatening them with a Colt 1911 pistol. Sue gets to know Walt, and invites him to a family barbecue on his birthday, bringing him closer to her family, explaining Hmong culture and that during the Vietnam War they fought on "his" side. Sue, Thao, and their mother visit Walt the next day, with Thao’s family forcing him to work for Walt for a week to atone for his attempted theft of the Gran Torino. Walt has Thao clean up the neighborhood until his debt is paid and shows Thao the ways of American men. He gets Thao a construction job and encourages him to ask out another Hmong girl called Youa.

After discovering blood when he coughs, Walt visits the doctor. After viewing the results of his examination, which indicate that his health isn’t good, he calls his son Mitch and awkwardly tries to tell him about it; but he can’t bring himself to do it and just tries to make small talk. However, Mitch and Karen say they are too busy to talk to him. Meanwhile, the Hmong gang keeps pressuring Thao to join them. When they find Thao walking home alone after work, they rob him and burn his face with a cigarette. Walt confronts Smokie, second-in-command in the Hmong gang, at the gang’s house, and beats him up in retaliation. The gang returns days later and shoots up the Vang Lors’ home in a drive-by, wounding Thao in the neck. Walt runs to check on them and hears that Sue, who had left for her aunt’s house before the shooting, never arrived. A few minutes later another Hmong gang car drives by and throws Sue out into the street. Sue gets to her feet and walks into the house, and it’s seen she’s been beaten to a pulp and raped. The family chooses not to tell police who did it. Walt storms home, punching cupboards and bloodying his knuckles in anger. Father Janovich goes to visit him later, deeply concerned about both Walt and Sue. Walt gives Janovich a beer and they talk openly. Janovich calls Walt ‘Mr. Kowalski,’ but Walt is now open to Janovich calling him by his first name.

An angry Thao urges Walt to take vengeance on the Hmong gang with him. Walt first tells him to come back later as revenge must be planned carefully. He tells Thao to return late in the afternoon. During this time, Walt indulges in a few luxuries. He gets a haircut, tipping the barber generously. He buys a new tailored suit. He goes to Church and much to the amazement of Father Janovich, asks to make confession. Janovich hears confession of a few minor sins and prescribes a standard penitence prayer.

When Thao returns to Walt’s house at the appointed time, Walt gives him the Silver Star medal he earned in Korea, but then locks him in the basement, saying he does not want him to live with the consequences of killing someone. Walt tells Thao about a sin that haunted him every day – killing a young enemy soldier, who wanted to "just give up". Walt then leaves Daisy with Sue’s grandmother, and from a bar he often went to, calls Sue, telling her where to find the key to unlock his basement so she can let Thao out.

Meanwhile, Father Janovich is with two police officers outside the Hmong gang house. Janovich had talked the sergeant into sending them on a stakeout, because he believes Walt will bring Thao there for a shootout confrontation with the gang. But the whole neighborhood remains quiet and the sergeant finally recalls the officers, who make Janovich leave with them.

Sue arrives at Walt’s house to let Thao out of the basement. He hurriedly explains Walt’s leaving him there and they hurry off to the Hmong gang house.

Outside the gang members’ house, Walt confronts them for the shootout and raping of Sue, causing the neighbours to come out and observe the confrontation. He takes out a cigarette from his jacket, puts it in his mouth, asks the gang for a light, and then slowly reaches into his jacket before pulling his hand out quickly. Thinking Walt is going to shoot, the gang members gun him down. A shot of Walt lying dead on the ground reveals he had grabbed his 1st Cavalry Division Zippo lighter, not a gun. When Thao and Sue arrive at the crime scene, they are told by the police that the gang has been arrested and, with the rest of the community prepared to testify against them, they will be imprisoned for a long time, having killed an unarmed man. Thao, still with Walt’s Silver Star pinned to his shirt, glares at Spider and Smokie as they are loaded into police cars.

A funeral service is held for Walt with Father Janovich delivering a memorable eulogy of Walt. Thao and his family attend the funeral opposite Walt’s large extended family, and Mitch is annoyed at their presence. At the reading of Walt’s will, it’s revealed that Walt left his house to the church, and his Gran Torino to Thao, much to the disappointment and puzzlement of Walt’s family. In the final scene, Thao is driving the Gran Torino up Lake Shore Road with Daisy next to him.

{tab=FullCast & Crew}

Produced By:

  • Bruce Berman known as executive producer
  • Clint Eastwood known as producer
  • Bill Gerber known as producer
  • Jenette Kahn known as executive producer
  • Robert Lorenz known as producer
  • Tim Moore known as executive producer
  • Adam Richman known as executive producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Clint Eastwood known as Walt Kowalski
  • Christopher Carley known as Father Janovich
  • Bee Vang known as Thao
  • Ahney Her known as Sue
  • Brian Haley known as Mitch Kowalski
  • Geraldine Hughes known as Karen Kowalski
  • Dreama Walker known as Ashley Kowalski
  • Brian Howe known as Steve Kowalski
  • John Carroll Lynch known as Barber Martin
  • William Hill known as Tim Kennedy
  • Brooke Chia Thao known as Vu
  • Chee Thao known as Grandma
  • Choua Kue known as Youa
  • Scott Eastwood known as Trey (as Scott Reeves)
  • Xia Soua Chang known as Kor Khue
  • Sonny Vue known as Smokie
  • Doua Moua known as Spider
  • Greg Trzaskoma known as Bartender
  • John Johns known as Al
  • Davis Gloff known as Darrell
  • Thomas D. Mahard known as Mel (as Tom Mahard)
  • Cory Hardrict known as Duke
  • Nana Gbewonyo known as Monk
  • Arthur Cartwright known as Prez
  • Austin Douglas Smith known as Daniel Kowalski
  • Conor Liam Callaghan known as David Kowalski
  • Michael E. Kurowski known as Josh Kowalski (as Michael Kurowski)
  • Julia Ho known as Dr. Chu
  • Maykao K. Lytongpao known as Gee
  • Carlos Guadarrama known as Head Latino
  • Andrew Tamez-Hull known as Latino Gangbanger
  • Ramon Camacho known as Latino Gangbanger (as Rámon Camacho)
  • Antonio Mireles known as Latino Gangbanger
  • Ia Vue Yang known as Hmong Flower Woman
  • Zoua Kue known as Hmong Flower Woman
  • Elvis Thao known as Hmong Gangbanger
  • Jerry Lee known as Hmong Gangbanger
  • Lee Mong Vang known as Hmong Gangbanger
  • Tru Hang known as Hmong Grandfather
  • Alice Lor known as Hmong Granddaughter
  • Tong Pao Kue known as Hmong Husband
  • Douacha Ly known as Hmong Man
  • Parng D. Yarng known as Hmong Neighbor
  • Nelly Yang Sao Yia known as Hmong Wife
  • Marty Bufalini known as Lawyer
  • Clint Ward known as Officer
  • Stephen Kue known as Officer Chang
  • Rochelle Winter known as Waitress
  • Claudia Rodgers known as White Woman Neighbor
  • Vincent Bonasso known as Tailor
  • Sean Baligian known as Old Man on Porch (uncredited)
  • Jeffrey Scott Basham known as Man on Street (uncredited)
  • My-Ishia Cason-Brown known as Muslim Receptionist (uncredited)
  • Jeffrey Feingold known as Neighbor (uncredited)
  • William C. Fox known as Family Friend (uncredited)
  • Vong Lee known as Hmong Neighbor With Baby (uncredited)
  • Rio Scafone known as Family Friend (uncredited)
  • Tony Stef'Ano known as Man on Street (uncredited)
  • Carey Torrice known as Blonde (uncredited)
  • Kevin Walsh known as Extra – Hardware Store exterior (uncredited)

..{tab=Supporting Department}Makeup Department:

  • Janice Alexander known as hair stylist (as Jan Alexander)
  • Dawn Baker known as makeup artist
  • Carol Branston known as hair stylist
  • Clifton Chippewa known as hair stylist
  • Lauri Cuppetilli known as assistant makeup artist
  • Debbie Darakoljian known as makeup artist
  • Kevin J Edwards known as hair stylist (as Kevin Edwards)
  • Louise Holoday known as makeup artist
  • Kimberly Jones known as makeup artist
  • Kimberley Kirkpatrick known as makeup artist
  • Tania McComas known as makeup department head
  • Carol A. O'Connell known as hair department head
  • Jay Wejebe known as makeup artist

Art Department:

  • Kai Blomberg known as set dresser
  • James Fernandez known as on-set dresser
  • Steven Ladish known as set dresser
  • James R. Lord known as propmaker gang boss
  • Jared A.J. Muscarella known as carpenter
  • Michael Muscarella known as construction coordinator
  • Loren Nickloff known as general foreman
  • Missy Parker known as assistant set decorator
  • Edward J. Protiva known as leadman
  • Douglas S. Reilly known as graphic designer: props
  • Scott Schutzki known as set dresser
  • Michael Semon known as assistant propmaster
  • Robert Silcock known as propmaker foreman
  • Chris M. Young known as art department production assistant

..{tab=Company}

Production Companies:

  • Matten Productions (in association with)
  • Double Nickel Entertainment
  • Gerber Pictures
  • Malpaso Productions
  • Media Magik Entertainment
  • Village Roadshow Pictures
  • WV Films IV
  • Warner Bros. Pictures

Other Companies:

  • Avid Film Composer  edited on
  • BT Industrial Supply  expendables
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  camera cranes
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  camera dollies
  • Collegiate Images  university footage courtesy of
  • David Haddad  transportation equipment
  • Haddad's  transportation equipment
  • Mid America Cine Support  electric equipment
  • Pacific Title  titles
  • S3 Entertainment Group  production services: Michigan
  • Sequoia Illumination  lighting equipment
  • Star Waggons  hair and make-up trailers
  • Technicolor Digital Intermediates  digital intermediate
  • Transportation Resources  transportation equipment
  • William F. White International  grip and lighting equipment

Distributors:

  • Golden Village Pictures (2009) (Singapore) (theatrical)
  • Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige AB (2009) (Sweden) (theatrical)
  • Sandrew Metronome Distribution (2009) (Finland) (theatrical)
  • Village Films (2009) (Greece) (theatrical)
  • Village Roadshow Entertainment (2008) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment (2008) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (2008) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Argentina) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Belgium) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Czech Republic) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (France) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Japan) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Philippines) (theatrical)
  • Warner Brothers (2008) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Argentina Video Home (2009) (Argentina) (DVD)
  • Argentina Video Home (2009) (Argentina) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Hollydan Works (2009) (Yugoslavia) (DVD)
  • Sandrew Metronome Norge (2009) (Norway) (all media)
  • Turner Network Television (TNT) (2011) (USA) (TV)
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Finland Oy (2009) (Finland) (DVD) (blu-ray)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (Canada) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (Germany) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (Sweden) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (Sweden) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (USA) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2009) (USA) (DVD) (Blu-ray)

..{tab=Other Stuff}

Special Effects:

  • Pacific Title and Art Studio (special visual effects)

Visual Effects by:

  • Bron Barry known as visual effects coordinator
  • John Campuzano known as visual effects coordinator
  • Andrea Caretta known as digital artist
  • Greg Cheng known as digital artist
  • Chad E. Collier known as render i/o administrator: Digital Domain
  • Janice Barlow Collier known as dustbuster: Digital Domain
  • Michael Degtjarewsky known as lead compositor
  • Yoshi DeHerrera known as visual effects artist: 3D scanning & modeling
  • Gregory Duncan known as dustbuster: Digital Domain
  • Joe Farrell known as senior digital compositor
  • Mark Freund known as visual effects supervisor: Pacific Title
  • Navjit Singh Gill known as technical assistant
  • Brian Hanable known as digital effects compositor: Pacific Title
  • Brian Holligan known as digital coordinator: Digital Domain
  • Julian Levi known as visual effects producer
  • Darin McCormick-Millett known as visual effects producer (as Darin Millett)
  • Kyle Mulqueen known as digital artist: scan data cleanup
  • Erin L. Nelson known as digital restoration
  • Lee Nelson known as 3D artist
  • Jessica Noll known as compositor
  • James P. Noon known as tracking
  • Darren Poe known as digital effects supervisor
  • Kelly Port known as visual effects supervisor
  • Francisco Ramirez known as assistant visual effects editor: Digital Domain
  • Prateep Siamwalla known as tracking
  • Wilson Tang known as digital restoration
  • Justin van der Lek known as 3D integration: Digital Domain
  • Bob Wiatr known as digital compositor: Pacific Title
  • Xye known as tracking
  • Amanda Hampton known as software engineer (uncredited)
  • Ian A. Harris known as digital artist: Digital Domain (uncredited)
  • Michael Owens known as visual effects supervisor (uncredited)
  • Michelle Winze known as digital producer (uncredited)

Release Date:

  • USA 9 December 2008 (Burbank, California) (premiere)
  • USA 12 December 2008 (limited)
  • Canada 19 December 2008 (limited)
  • USA 9 January 2009
  • Australia 22 January 2009
  • New Zealand 22 January 2009
  • UK 17 February 2009 (Glasgow Film Festival)
  • Philippines 18 February 2009
  • Ireland 20 February 2009
  • UK 20 February 2009 (limited)
  • Belgium 25 February 2009
  • France 25 February 2009
  • Switzerland 25 February 2009 (French speaking region)
  • Greece 26 February 2009
  • Israel 26 February 2009
  • UK 27 February 2009
  • Argentina 5 March 2009
  • Germany 5 March 2009
  • Switzerland 5 March 2009 (German speaking region)
  • Austria 6 March 2009
  • Iceland 6 March 2009
  • Portugal 6 March 2009 (Cinemateca Portuguesa) (premiere)
  • Spain 6 March 2009
  • Turkey 6 March 2009
  • Hong Kong 12 March 2009
  • Kuwait 12 March 2009
  • Netherlands 12 March 2009
  • Portugal 12 March 2009
  • United Arab Emirates 12 March 2009
  • Brazil 13 March 2009 (São Paulo) (premiere)
  • India 13 March 2009
  • Italy 13 March 2009
  • Chile 19 March 2009
  • Peru 19 March 2009
  • South Korea 19 March 2009
  • Brazil 20 March 2009
  • Latvia 20 March 2009
  • Panama 20 March 2009
  • Sweden 20 March 2009
  • Venezuela 20 March 2009
  • Egypt 25 March 2009
  • Singapore 26 March 2009
  • Lithuania 27 March 2009
  • Mexico 27 March 2009
  • Norway 27 March 2009
  • Poland 27 March 2009
  • South Africa 27 March 2009
  • Czech Republic 3 April 2009 (Febio Film Festival)
  • Estonia 3 April 2009
  • Finland 3 April 2009
  • Denmark 7 April 2009 (CPHPIX Festival)
  • Kazakhstan 9 April 2009
  • Russia 9 April 2009
  • Slovakia 9 April 2009
  • Slovenia 9 April 2009
  • Ukraine 9 April 2009
  • Croatia 16 April 2009
  • Czech Republic 16 April 2009
  • Hungary 16 April 2009
  • Denmark 17 April 2009
  • Romania 17 April 2009
  • Japan 25 April 2009
  • Syria 6 August 2009

MPAA: Rated R for language throughout, and some violence

..{tab=Gallery}{/tabs}

Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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