In a time when it’s hard to find a movie worth watching, let alone worth calling good, there’s always a group of smaller films that claim big things, only to fall short and then some. “The Foot Fist Way” is such a film. The DVD cover reminds us that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay present this movie, although I have to wonder what they saw in the film.
Jody Hill’s (who also has a role in the film), “The Fist Foot Way” is about Tae Kwon Do instructor Fred Simmons (Danny McBride, who does manage to create a believable character here) who teaches children and adults the art of Tae Kwon Do, while insisting that he is the best when it comes to demonstrating his learned skills to potential students or anyone interested in giving him the time to do just that. Simmons is egotistical and doesn’t just dismiss criticism, but has a hard time believing anything bad about himself could be true. His hero is action film star Chuck “The Truck” Wallace (Ben Best), his wife is seems more for show than companionship, and his second in command is young Julio (Spencer Moreno) who constantly feels the brunt of Simmons’ self proclaimed superiority.
The film begins with Fred recruiting new students to take his class. After some of his current students demonstrate their learned skills, Fred steps in to show what he has to offer. While not hilarious by any means, Fred’s inability to master several of his techniques proves to be a finer point of humor throughout the film. Fred, of course, blames anyone but himself for his mistakes. This is just the tip of what makes his character so hard to enjoy. At home, Fred’s wife Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic) tries to bring some normalcy into their home by inviting diner guest over, which doesn’t keep Fred from behaving rudely. Sure, this could have been a funny scene between a self-centered, over-the-top guy and some normal houseguests, but it doesn’t push the scene far enough to be funny and quickly starts to feel awkward, much like the rest of the film.
Before long, Suzie tries to get ahead at work by having an affair, which only sends Fred further over the edge. This is when the film gets stranger and clearly looses sight of funny and plain awful. After beginning a Tae Kwon Do instruction, Fred takes out his aggression on a young kid, knocking him to the floor after some hits by the much larger, and much angrier Fred. I’m sorry, but how is this funny?
After Fred’s aggression starts to simmer, he starts hitting on a new student who has no interest in his advances. Not that you can blame her, as there’s seemingly little redeeming quality here. Just when Fred thinks all is lost, he goes to see and eventually hang out with Chuck “The Truck” Wallace. Chuck and Fred really are the perfect pair, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Both completely absorbed in their own assumed greatness, become quick enemies and eventually battle using their Tae Kwon Do skills.
Not only does Simmons clearly appear oblivious to anything and anyone around him, he is off-putting, not to mention the fact that he takes his aggression out on small children. If this sounds like Fred Simmons is the guy in the film whose there to make the hero look all the better, well, think again. There isn’t anyone (not including the students have to endure Simmons’ training) who has a glimmer of likeability. Oh sure, not every film has to have some wonderful character that intervenes at just the right moment, or even leaves a lasting impression at the end of the story, but every film does need something more than the bare minimum of what could be considered the equivalent to a viral video made by a group of friends geared towards late night viewings.
VIDEO: The film is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Video quality is generally satisfactory, especially considering the film's low-budget filmmaking. Sharpness and detail remained passable throughout the film, with most scenes looking at least mildly soft. The presentation did show some minor edge enhancement and artifacting, but appeared free from specks and marks on the print. Colors looked natural, although often took on a somewhat low-key appearance.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation put the surrounds to use on a few occasions for music and very light ambience, but this was otherwise a completely front-heavy, dialogue-driven presentation. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and music.
Commentary with Director Jody Hill, Actor Danny McBride and Production Designer Randy Gambill - The commentary is basically a conversation about the making of the film: from the actors, to the location, to the process of making the film, to the enjoyment that they made the film. There are some lags in conversation here, but there are some interesting and enjoyable moments.
Behind The Scenes Featurette
Music accompanies black and white, behind-the-scenes footage. There’s almost a 90’s music video vibe here as the music plays along with the footage.
There are two choices here: Danny laughs while on the phone and Danny and Jody laugh. While neither blooper is extremely funny, it is nice to see the actors having fun on the set.
There are 20 additional scenes provided here. None of the scenes really add much in the way of laughs or interesting storyline, but for a fan of the film, it’s a nice collection of additional work that didn’t make it to the final cut.
Another ending that makes it easy to see why the filmmakers went another way.
Kenny Vs. Spenny Vol. 1, uncensored
South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season, Uncensored
The Love Guru
Final Thoughts: "Foot Fist Way" rarely gets any comedic momentum going and the cult film's characters remain mostly unlikable. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, and a fine set of extras. The film's fans should consider a purchase, but others interested should certainly rent first.
The Film C-