Archives for posts with tag: gangs

Grade A

Director Walter Hill’s gritty movie about NYC gangs in the 1970s stands the test of time, with each new generation of movie lovers being introduced to and enjoying this cult, classic hit.

On a hot, summer, NYC night, the most powerful gang leader, Cyrus, organizes a meeting among the hundreds of street gangs of NYC.  The Warriors, coming in from Coney Island, Brooklyn, is one of the gangs attending.   During Cyrus’ speech on organizing the gangs to take over NYC, he is shot and killed by the leader of the Rogues gang (played by David Patrick Kelly).  Kelly shifts the blame to the Warriors, and now every gang is after them, as well as the NYPD.

Michael Beck (playing the leader of The Warriors) must lead his small group from The Bronx all the way to Coney Island, fighting their way neighborhood by neighborhood.   The odds are heavily against The Warriors, with 100,000 “boppers” and about 20,000 cops looking to take them out any way they can.  The Warriors consider themselves to be the best, and tonight, they will have to prove it.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Warriors” is the scene when four Warriors are being chased in Central Park by a gang called The Baseball Furies (guys dressed in the familiar pinstripes of The Yankees, but wearing face paint like the rock band KISS).  Beck and another Warrior veer off to the right, and the Furies continue after the other two Warriors.  Moments later, Beck and his companion appear behind the Furies to attack the enemy stragglers from behind.   It’s a great example of Beck’s strong, battlefield tactics that will give The Warriors a slim chance to get home.

For those too young to remember what NYC looked like decades ago, this is an eye opener.  “The Warriors” is a snapshot of how savage the city that never sleeps was back in the 70s: graffiti everywhere, a gang in almost each neighborhood, the high crime rate, the overwhelmed police, and the grime that seems to seep out of the walls and streets.  But it is also a very engaging movie with many memorable characters, lots of action sequences, great pacing and direction, a charismatic leader (Beck) whom the audience will want to see find his way home, and a music score that enhances the frightening nature of the city streets at night despite its sometimes disco-rock infusion.

— M

Clint Eastwood plays a prejudiced, Korean War vet who still lives in a neighborhood that has undergone white flight, leaving him with mostly Asian and black neighbors.  As if that wasn’t enough for him to deal with, his wife of many years has recently died, there are Asian gangbangers roaming around, and he has become ill.   He is a gruff man who speaks his mind, doesn’t tolerate different cultures, has no problems saying the word “spooks” to black people and “chinks” and “gooks” to Asians, and believes in buying American.  But…he also believes in giving people a second chance, he loves his old dog, he keeps his home and property clean, is open enough to become friends with  two young siblings who live next door, and he takes pride in keeping his Gran Torino car in immaculate condition.

Bee Vang plays Thao, an intelligent, sensitive, teen-aged boy living next door to Eastwood who is forced by a local gang to try to steal Eastwood’s Gran Torino.   He fails, and is forced by his family to make amends to Eastwood by becoming his servant for several days.  Eastwood eventually takes a liking to the kid, and slowly becomes a father figure to him.   But Eastwood knows Thao has a rough ride ahead of him because the local, Asian gang (the leader of which is Thao’s cousin) wants Thao to join; and the gang is putting tremendous pressure on the boy to do so.   Eastwood also knows that unless the gang disappears, the lives of Thao and his sister will always be in jeopardy.

“Gran Torino” is one of those rare movies that has a main character that stays with you long after the movie has ended.   This is also one of the few movies out of thousands that I’ve seen that I am going to rate a 10 (from a rating of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best).   There may be some Asians who don’t look favorably upon this movie because of all the racial slurs against Asians spoken by Eastwood’s character.  Well, I’m Asian, and I don’t care.   That’s the way the character is supposed to be.  Plus he’s not a Klansman who is looking to do harm to those who are not like him.  He’ll just avoid you if possible, and expect others to do the same to him.    There are many people who have that same viewpoint, and they come in all colors, all cultures.

So what are my memorable movie moments of “Gran Torino?”  I thought you’d never ask.  There are three that I will tell you.  One is the scene where the Asian gang tries to grab Thao from his front porch so they can take him somewhere and teach him to be a an idiot thug like themselves.   Thao’s sister, mother, grandmother and a few neighbors try their best to fight the thugs off; and the brawl spills onto Eastwood’s front lawn, where we see him holding a rifle — an M1 Garand, I believe — and pointing it at a fat thug.  Fat Thug tries to act tough and tells Eastwood to go back into his house.   Eastwood, his eyes lit up like a demon, says to the Fat Thug something like, “I used to stack f@#ks like you five feet high in Korea, use them as sandbags.”  Realizing that he’s crazy enough to start killing all of them, all the thugs back off and leave in their piece of crap Honda Civic with a big, stupid looking wing on the trunk.

The second memorable movie moment is the scene at the end of the movie where Eastwood confronts all the thugs for one last showdown.  Don’t worry, I won’t give any details.   Just know that Eastwood’s strategy was brilliant.  And unpredictable.

My favorite, memorable, movie moment is the sequence where Eastwood carefully polishes his “Gran Torino” until she looks perfect, then he relaxes on his porch, drinking beer as the sun goes down, watching his ride gleam.   I know that satisfied feeling very well.  I usually spend almost 2 hours a week just cleaning and waxing the exterior of my Genesis Coupe, including the wheels.   After my hard work is done, I stare at her, and admire her beauty and everything she symbolizes: art, freedom, power, and most of all…that she’s a part of me.

M

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