In his new movie “Gran Torino”, Clint Eastwood plays a racist disgruntled Korean War vet who teaches his new Hmong kid neighbor about life by beating him senseless with a 2X4, then later locks him in his basement and feeds him rats. Okay, maybe those things don’t actually happen in the movie, but it would be cool if it did, right? Anyways, USA Today has an article on “Gran Torino”, including two new pictures from the movie, one of which is the poster. The film stars Eastwood, who also directs, and newcomer Bee Vang as the Hmong teenager with the sticky fingers. The Gran Torino, we presume, plays itself.
His Gran Torino character is Walt Kowalski, a racist Korean War veteran whose prized possession is a classic car that catches the eye of local gangs in his Detroit neighborhood. One of the troubled kids who covets the vehicle is from a family of Hmong immigrant neighbors, whom Kowalski has long resented.
The story comes down to two objects (three if you count the scowl): his 1972 Ford muscle car and his M-1 rifle.
Apart from that slight parallel, Eastwood has little in common with Kowalski. “He worked on the line in the Ford plant and retired and had this one car he bought himself. It’s sort of a symbol of his days with the Ford plant. The M-1 is sort of a symbol of his days in the military. … He’s clinging to the memory of the war. You’ll find out when you see it, some of (the memories) are not as pleasant as others. That helps make him even tougher to get along with.”
Newcomer Bee Vang, a 17-year-old Hmong American originally from the Minneapolis area, was cast as the neighbor boy who strikes up a mutually reluctant relationship with Walt.
Starring Clint Eastwood, Cory Hardrict, Geraldine Hughes, Brian Haley, Dreama Walker, Brian Howe, Doua Moua, Lee Mong Vang, Christopher Carley, Bee Vang, Austin Douglas Smith, Ahney Her, Elvis Thao, Jerry Lee, and directed by Clint Eastwood.
“Gran Torino” rides into theaters December 17, 2008, just in time for Oscar season.