Isaacs Picture Conclusions




The “DOUBLE TAKE” feature is one in which myself and someone else both review a movie for the first time. These don’t happen very often, but if you would ever like to participate just drop me a note below or send me an email to – traditionally,  we try and handle the “classics” – or at least the classics in my head. Past episodes include:









and now: GRAN TORINO with TYSON C from HEAD IN A VICE!!


When I think of Clint Eastwood, honestly, I almost consider him a part of my family since I have basically grown up watching him in front of me. When I think of my dad – we didn’t always have a good time together growing up, but we did have a few good times, mostly those would involve the WALKING TALL movies and his favorite, Joe Don Baker as Buford Pusser. Aside from my Grandpa, the only other male influence in my life has to be my father-in-law who I totally love in that type of way and if he reminds me of anyone, it’s Clint Eastwood (minus the constant scowl and gravelly voice). One of my favorite stories of his is when, decades ago, his son (obviously my brother-in-law) and his buddy were doing something in the street with their new car and some asshole screamed at them and threatened them or something so Randy (the Father-In-Law) ran down the street and pulled the dude out of his car through the window and beat the shit out of him in his own front yard. It’s not like Randy is some sort of bully on the block – he’s a nice and jolly guy but someone threatened his kid and he took action. I wish that I had the same type of story to tell.

GRAN TORINO tells a similar story, in a way. Curmudgeonly (I spelled that correctly the first time?? I didn’t even type “first” right the first time…), old, racist Eastwood (whose character’s name is Walt Kowalski {which I won’t attempt to type a dozen times}) lives in the house he and his wife bought after The Korean War. The area, once populated by white folks is now predominantly Asian and while he hates it, he sticks to his ideals and principals and lives what was once the W.A.S.P. American Dream.

I don’t want to go into the whole dynamic and drama about how and why he bonds with the Hmong family next door, but he does and eventually he and the two kids, Thao and Sue are friends. One of my top ten scenes in Isaacs Movie History is depicted in a still frame above, when Thao and Sue are being confronted by a local gang of Hmong toughs, Walt reluctantly comes out of his house, rifle blazing and orders: “Get off my lawn!” I think we’ve all seen enough movies to know that there are going to be ramifications to threatening a gang at gun point, and there are, and there’s a scene (that I also love) in which Walt has just seen the counter attack to what he did, he busts up his cabinets with his fists and sits in a darkened room contemplating his next move.

Of course this all leads up to the inevitable, tragic ending that, honestly, left me slightly disappointed after such an emotional (to me) movie. I thought it was kind of flat and could have gone another way but… overall I love GRAN TORINO (except for that ridiculous song over the end credits) and I’ve seen it six or seven times. I think, going into this, Tyson had never seen it but wanted to do this so he could put it on his IMDB TOP 250 project. Let’s see what he had to say.


I was initially surprised to see Gran Torino so high on the IMDb list, and it has been on my ‘must-watch’ list for a while now. After finally seeing it, not only can I see why it is rated so highly, but I’m annoyed at myself for waiting so long! For those that don’t know, the story follows Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood acting as well as doing directing duty), a recently widowed Korean War veteran alienated from his family and angry at the world. Walt’s young neighbor, Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang), is pressured into stealing Walt’s prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino by his cousin for his initiation into a gang. Walt thwarts the theft and subsequently develops a relationship with the boy and his Hmong family.


Gran Torino is centered around a theme of Racism. Walt is not only racist but blunt and brash in his tone. Walt lives in what use to be a prosperous neighbourhood which has turned into a project and a haven for gangs, and whilst he hates it he won’t be forced out. Despite his nature, there’s just something lovable about a straight-talking old man, and at times the film is pretty funny. Especially the scenes in a barber-shop, where traditional American ‘masculinity’ is shown at work, and it’s nice to see Walt actually crack a smile. When he comes out with lines such as ‘I once stacked fuckers like you five feet high and used ‘em like sandbags’ I felt as though only Clint could get away with stuff like that and still make it funny.


There is obviously a bit of action in the movie. After all, it wouldn’t be a Clint film without it! When something terrible happens to a member of the family he is now begrudgingly friendly with, he decides to take matters into his own hands, and this sets up the thrilling climax. I won’t spoil the ending, but it didn’t end how I felt it would (or hoped it would, I guess). Don’t get me wrong, the ending still worked, and the heart-strings were suitably tugged, but I just expected something slightly different.


There are a few contrived situations and ridiculous characters but I was happy to ignore and look past them because of how good Walt was to watch. I couldn’t help but think that at long last, Clint’s made that final Dirty Harry picture. I know this was rumoured initially to be another in the franchise, and whilst it definitely isn’t, there were times it felt as if Callahan left San Francisco for good and retired to Midwestern suburbia. Probably as close to seeing the Callahan character again as we will ever get anyway.


All in all, Gran Torino is a great watch. It may not be the smartest or most complex of scripts. Some of the words spoken by the gangs made me cringe (Eastwood encouraged the Hmong actors to ad-lib in Hmong), and at times you could see how this was made so quickly (33 days), but all this does not a bad film make. Eastwood’s subtle performance is as charismatic and effective as ever, and combined with his directing efforts, it is great to see this legend of the silver screen make something so effective and well-loved (in box office terms, the most successful film Eastwood has made). It thoroughly deserves its place in the IMDb Top 250, and needs to be seen, especially if you’re a Clint fan.



  1. Pingback: Movie Review: Gran Torino (2008) | Head In A Vice

  2. I have to admit that I didn’t take to this film at all. It came across as distasteful to me. However, it was very long ago and I’d I’ve to Revisit it. That being said, this is a great double take guys. It’s a good choice to get both outlooks on it. Cheers boys! 😉


  3. That’s a bad ass story about the guy getting the shit beat out of him in his own lawn, ahaha.

    My ass was in the theater for this one, most definitely. It didn’t disappoint. I don’t know about you, but I really did believe an 85-year-old Clint could whoop an 18-year-old’s ass.


  4. II just love that last image of Walt’s (Clint’s) grumpy scowl. It made me smile broadly. I want to tickle him. 🙂
    I watched this film but I didn’t really like it, though I can’t remember exactly why. Nor do I remember the ending. Oh, my poor memory!


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