My thoughts on Gran Torino

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A few days ago, I finally saw Gran Torino. Now, I've heard mixed reviews. The American audience generally loved the movie. While, the Hmong critics bashed it. I went in watching the film with a clear head. I didn't want any of their views to influence my thoughts. After watching the movie, I can see both sides. For me, I did like the movie. Me, being Hmong myself, I am not dumb to not know all my traditions. However, I do know that it is just a movie. I am proud and greatly honored by Clint Eastwood to have a movie that will show my people - the Hmong people - in a positive, yet negative light as well.

I am sure after watching this movie, for those who did know who Hmong people are went on Google to search Hmong people. People probably did not even know how to spell Hmong and google the ethnicity or nationality of the people in Gran Torino. I'm sure of this because this blog itself has gotten a lot of hits at one time about Gran Torino.

No one can argue the acting ability of Clint Eastwood. He's a legend and one of the best ever in Hollywood. What I find it more amazing is he gave Hmong people a place to shine in the movie. There are no professional Hmong stars, yet he gave two amateur Hmong actors a place in Hollywood -- Anhey Her who plays Sue & Bee Vang who plays Tao.

Walt is a grumpy, old man. He is a Viet veteran who has served his country but feels alienated in his own family. For some reason, he is unhappy with his life. Besides his kids who does not care for him. The only person who loves him so much is his wife but she is no longer living.

Who ever thought that a minority ethnic group called Hmong would open Walt's eyes up? Like many people who are ignorant about other people's cultures, Walt was eagered to shut his heart on these "chinks" who live next door to him.

He locked himself of the outside world, not knowing that times have changed. The best scene to portray this is when he had to visit his doctor.

Eastwood chose to show the good and bad of the Hmong people, which I thought was brilliant. You have Sue and Tao's family living next door. Then also have Tao's gangster cousin and his gangster friends.

To me, Ahney was very natural and really liked her. Plus I am so glad that she did not have a weak character. She had me laughing when she was sticking up for herself.

Bee Vang has the quiet role. He plays Tao, a boy who needs to man up in the house. A good kid with a kind heart but does not know where to go. His gangster cousin wants him to be in the gang with them.

The movie is titled Gran Torino for the car that Walt drives. The gangsters wanted Tao to steal the car to prove his macho-ness.

Another interesting point is the failing automotive industry. The film was shot in Michigan, where 80% of the automotive business lives.

Being a Hmong, there are some scenes in which I know isn't true. However, you have to watch the movie knowing it's just a movie. It is not a freaking documentary on Hmong people. If you want that, go watch PBS.

4 hlub:

Niu March 21, 2009 at 4:05 PM  

You've writen a nice article - you're right, before this movie I never knew Hmong people exist. Everyone needs movie or something culturally important to get them noticed - at the end I have no sense that the film was biased to either way, I just found it interesting to learn about a new culture - something the average holywood movie is not good at!

Nicki March 23, 2009 at 9:38 AM  

Thanks Niu for stopping by.

I totally agree with you. It takes a movie for others to see other people's cultures.

No one will agree 100% on everything but I am glad that I saw this film.

Anonymous,  August 28, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

Nicki, that was a great review!!! As I've told you, I've yet to watch this movie, I'll put it on my "to watch" list.

Next time someone ask me "what is hmong" I can maybe direct them to this movie?

Anonymous,  March 23, 2011 at 2:07 AM  

i know that most hmong's that have seen this movie dont like it, because they think that being hmong is completely different and that this movie is showing to the world that hmongs are simply not like how the movie presents them, but myself being a hmong person, i acturally thought the movie was pretty good. this movies is a sneak peak of how a typical hmong family is, there are gangs, there are stupid ignorant gang members that care of nothing else but themselves. they just need to realize that the world will keep spinning regardless of what type of movies come out.

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