(Clint Eastwood, Brian Haley, et al / DVD / R / (2008) 2009 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Multiple Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood stars in the drama Gran Torino, marking his first film role since the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby. Eastwood stars as an iron-willed and inflexible Korean War veteran, living in a changing world, who is forced by his immigrant neighbors to confront his own long-held prejudices.
DVD Verdict: Eastwood's character, Walt Kowalski, is a deeply flawed man...a man seared by all the traumas that have burned him during his many years of life. Perhaps, the most deeply felt of his traumas, is his experience during the Korean War in which he killed...at least...thirteen of the oriental enemy, some little more than kids. They were a lot like, or so Kowalski painfully speculates, his young Hmong friend.
This is a tale not so much about redemption [although it could be confused as such] as a tale about the difficulty of interpreting...or judging...a person by his surface demeanor. Kowalski is in a very real sense, every man, grown bitter and cynical with age. He is us, filled with the prejudices which...despite all our denials...structure all of us. Despite this, Kowalski, again like most of us, is a thoroughly decent human being. He reacts to injustice but, like very few of us, he does something about it.
He attempts to protect his Hmong neighbors from hoodlums. Unfortunately, one of his actions against these punks results in reprisals in the form of a driveby shooting and a brutal rape. Disgusted with himself and even more disgusted with the gang members, Kowalski acts deciseively to end the terror and protect 'his' oriental family. It is, perhaps, not the ending favored by most Eastwood fans, but is all the more potent because of its simplicity.
I enjoy he way Eastwood deals with 'racism' in this film. Through his character, Kowalski, we see a decent man clothed in the camoflage of superficial racism. Conversely...and I think there is a 'conversely'...we recognize that there are politically-correct individuals, who would never let an ethnic comment slip through their lips, who aren't decent people at all. [RB] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
“Manning the Wheel” (RT 9:21) – a look at the American car culture and what it represents to the character Walt and to generations of men.
“Gran Torino: More Than a Car” (RT 3:55) - Visit Detroit and the Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual parade of vintage cars held at the major cruise center in Detroit during the 50's and 60's.