Gran Torino (2008), directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, is an emotional roller coaster that informs as well as entertains. We follow the story of recently widowed Korean War Veteran, Walt Kowalski, who continues to hold on to his prejudiced thoughts even after an influx of Hmong people, who originate from the mountains of China, Laos and Thailand, move to his small Michigan neighborhood. Walt is portrayed as a very cold, distant and unaffectionate man, which is a very common stereotype for those in his age group. From Gran Torino, we learn how an unexpected event can encourage an individual to grow mentally and emotionally. Thao, Sue and Walt, in particular, all come face-to-face with terrifying evils, yet all mature and size up after realizing that change must occur in order to survive in their modern day society. However, in some instances the events are harder to overcome than others. .
Thao, a young Hmong boy who Walt often refers to as 'Toad', has never had a 'strong male' influence yet is expected to be the 'man' of his household. This wouldn't be such a predicament if Thao possessed the direction that his sister, Sue, does. After being pressured into stealing Walt's 1972 Gran Torino, and failing, Thao starts to do chores for Walt as a way to repay his debt. This enables the two to bond and therefore gives Thao someone to idolize. Walt gives Thao many lessons on how to fit into a dominantly white society. While some are very subtle, other more obvious; "Now you just gotta learn how guys talk. You just listen to the way Martin and I banter it back and forth. You OK? You're ready?" This demonstrates Thao's utter lack of understanding when it comes to traditional white American social values. We also witness Walt's affectionate side, which very rarely surfaces. .
As a result of gang conflict, Sue, Thao's sister, is used to send a message to her family.