Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This was Eastwood's first starring role since 2004's Million Dollar Baby. The film features a large Hmong American cast, as well as one of Eastwood's younger sons, Scott. Eastwood's oldest son, Kyle, provided the score. Gran Torino opened via a limited theatrical release in North America on December 12, 2008, and later to a worldwide release on January 9, 2009. Set in Detroit, Michigan, it is the first mainstream American film to feature Hmong Americans. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975.
The story follows Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed Korean War veteran alienated from his family and angry at the world. Walt's young neighbor, Thao Vang Lor, is pressured by his cousin into stealing Walt's prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino for his initiation into a gang. Walt thwarts the theft with his M1 Garand rifle and subsequently develops a relationship with the boy and his family.
Gran Torino was a critical and commercial success, grossing nearly $270 million worldwide (making it Eastwood's second highest-grossing film to date). Within the Hmong community in the United States, the film received both praise and criticism.
Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a cantankerous, retired Polish American assembly line worker and Korean War veteran, who has recently been widowed after 50 years of marriage, causing him to be a lapsed Catholic. His Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood in the Detroit area, formerly populated by working class white families, is now dominated by poor Asian immigrants, and gang violence is commonplace. Adding to the isolation he feels is the emotional detachment of his family.