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Gung Ho

4.3 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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(Jul 16, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

A Japanese auto company is persuaded to take over an abandoned factory--and abandoned U.S. workforce--in a small rust-belt town in Middle America. Alas, this wonderful idea for a culture-clash comedy goes pretty much to waste in Gung Ho. Michael Keaton gives his most relentlessly obnoxious performance as the fast-talking shop foreman who never stops BS'ing his Japanese employers, his work buddies (George Wendt and John Turturro among them), his girlfriend (Mimi Rogers), and himself. There's a trumped-up crisis in every reel, and a great deal of double talk about whether the Japanese are workaholic freaks or the new, true inheritors of the old American get-up-and-go. Director Ron Howard and screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel had made the enchanting comedy-fantasy-romance Splash only a couple of years before; they probably thought they were concocting a Frank Capra-style fable here, but, far from having a beautiful mind, this movie is strictly sitcom mentality from top to bottom. --Richard T. Jameson

From the Back Cover

When Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice, Batman) persuades a Japanese auto firm to reopen his hometown's auto factory, he's a hero. But when the Japanese hire him to enforce their policies among his American co-workers, he goes from hero to zero in seconds flat. It's manpower vs. horsepower on the assembly line. Salami vs. sushi in the cafeteria. And a head-on cultural collision that's enough to upset the world's balance of laughter. See how really crazy things can get when Michael Keaton's in charge in Gung Ho--another great comedy by director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Night Shift, Cocoon, Parenthood).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, Mimi Rogers, John Turturro
  • Directors: Ron Howard
  • Writers: Babaloo Mandel, Lowell Ganz, Edwin Blum
  • Producers: Babaloo Mandel, Deborah Blum, Jan R. Lloyd, Lowell Ganz
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: July 16, 2002
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000066BUA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,383 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gung Ho" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 29, 2006
Format: DVD
This movie is now 20 years old. It is an interesting comedy for what it says about how the Japanese and American cultures were trying to learn to work together in a world economy. Americans were not used to being on the losing end of competition, quality, and efficiency. And they tended to see themselves as entitled to their well paying unskilled jobs. The movie exaggerates these traits, but having worked on an assembly line for a couple of years, I can tell you that the exaggerations are still based in reality back in the 1970s and 1980s. The Japanese are portrayed as being all about company, ruthless bargainers, and relentless perfectionists. I particularly liked the way the Japanese are shown saying things about hearing what the Americans are saying and the Americans taking it to mean agreement while the Japanese mean no such thing.

The movie doesn't take sides and shows most of the problems coming from fear and misunderstanding. Isn't that really what happened? In the 1980s Americans feared the Japanese dominance of our economy and it resulted in some extreme actions and reactions. Nowadays, we fear the Chinese in a different way, but their dominance of basic manufacturing is more complete than the Japanese ever were and yet there isn't the same kind of backlash. Why? Well, that is outside the scope of this little review. Maybe it is experience with losing certain kinds of manufacturing for decades. Maybe it is because the auto industry was seen as particularly American and the high end of unskilled labor as middle class. Maybe it is because we now see economy successfully adapting as some new job classes are created and others leave. Maybe it is something else.
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Format: DVD
This movie was so much fun! The story was real-life possibility

with a whole lot of laughs. Great for family viewing. I have seen

this movie several times and will watch again I am sure.
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By A Customer on May 5, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
It was through this movie that I was first introduced to Michael Keaton, who I consider one of my favourite actors. The strength of this movie is that it tells the story for both sides of the cultural barrier and doesn't portray one as being better than the other. It is a film that both Westerners and Japanese can relate to. (In comparions, 'Mr Baseball' pushes the 'west is best' attitude when it comes to that sport.) Last year I rented 'Gung-ho' for the first time in many years. Watching this movie, while working in Japan, makes the premise ironic in retrospect. One needs only to look at Nissan , a once mighty automaker (and probable inspiration for the movie's 'Assan Motors') that had to turn to Renault to help it out, to see that fortunes in the Japanese economy have changed greatly since the time of this movie. Hence, the film is interesting in a nestalgic sort of way too.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I saw this movie as a kid and didn't get it. I saw it recently with a Japanese friend who laughed more at Japanese-Americans' allegedly terrible Japanese than at the movie, but we both laughed at the caricatures of American and Japanese work culture and family values.

*spoiler alert* the scene at the union meeting where Michael Keaton's character butters up the crowd by asking something like "who works better than American workers?" and the union response is "nobody!" and then lays on the challenge was one of the funnier scenes but it also made me reflect on my values as a person born in the USA.
Previous generations of Americans won independence from England, won independence from slavery, won two world wars, and led the rebuilding of Europe and Asia after WWII. Such valor still pays dividends but what has this generation done to deserve the respect of the world? When workers in other countries can make more with less and for less while maintaining a better attitude, how can this generation claim they are superior just because of the heroics of their ancestors?

In other words, at its surface, Gung Ho is a funny movie, but underneath it is very philosophical.
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Format: DVD
An early Ron Howard comedy "Gung Ho" stars Michael Keaton as Hunt Stevenson, a former automobile factory foreman in Hadleyville, Pennsylvania, who is tasked to convince a Japanese automobile maker "Assan" (not Nissan) to reopen the town's plant. It is a task upon which the fate of the town rests.

Hunt somehow succeeds, but a real challenge arrives in the form of culture clash between American workers and Japanese management methods. First, you don't listen to the music when you are working. Don't read newspapers when you are working. And....

The film certainly reflects the US-Japan relationship in the 1980s, but don't expect insightful observations about culture differences. "Gung Ho" is basically a comedy, with a Frank Capra-like story where all things work out.

This is Michael Keaton at his best. Gedde Watanabe is also good as an uptight Japanese executive Kazuhiro, who forms friendship with Hunt. Unfortunately, most supporting characters including Mimi Roger's love interest are forgettable. John Turturro also appears, but his role is not a big one.

Sometimes they make "East-Meets-West"-type culture clash comedies (like "Mr. Baseball"), and "Gung Ho" is one of them. (Interestingly, the film was not theatrically released in Japan, while "Mr. Baseball" was.) "Gung Ho" is a light-hearted comedy and as such it works.
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