"Gran Torino" by Yojimbo
Yojimbo - wrote on 03/18/12
Misanthropic Korean war veteran Clint Eastwood is dismayed when a Hmong family move in next door but he learns to respect them when they welcome him into their home after seeing off a local gang who threatened their socially dysfunctional son. Touted as Clint's farewell performance, this film can best be described as "Grumpy Old Harry". Unforgiven was the resurrection and deconstruction of an aged Man With No Name, and Walt Kowalski is the same for Harry Callahan and so is a fitting swan song for Eastwood's career. It's format is the extremely formulaic racist-changes-his-ways-when-he-actually-gets-to-spend-time-with-the-object-of-his-derision that will be familiar to anyone who's ever endured an afternoon TV movie, but it is of course Eastwood who raises it above the mundane. His dialogue is sharp and witty, portraying Walt as not a despicable racist, but more a relic from the pre-PC age tired of what he sees as meaningless social convention. This is seen for what it is and quickly dismissed by the best supporting character played by Ahney Her and this leads to some nicely pointed social commentary involving (albeit lightweight) racial and cultural politics and the treatment of elders in western society. The plot is highly predictable but Clint is at his most watchable and basically carries the film on his lonesome; Bee Vang is actually pretty poor as the boy he takes under his wing and the fact that terminal illness is written into the equation cheapened the ending slightly for me. I also felt obliged to knock off a half star for the horrendous closing song (growled by the man himself and *choke* Jamie Cullum) which wedged itself firmly in my craw, but as a whole it's highly entertaining.