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The Foot Fist Way (2006)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/23/2008

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/9/2008

Despite the fact that it's become a staple of the American entertainment marketing system, I still think it's odd that actors appear on every talk show to promote their new product. The interview is usually about the new movie or TV show (which we often haven't seen yet) and never that deep. I always want the host to ask the actors about the obscure movies which they were in at the start of their career. I think it's fun to see where actors came from. For example, Danny McBride seemingly came out of nowhere to appear in The Heartbreak Kid, Hot Rod, Drillbit Taylor, Pineapple Express, and Tropic Thunder. Who is this guy who is working with Hollywood's funniest and where did he come from. We learn the answer to that question in The Foot Fist Way.

McBride stars in The Foot Fist Way as Fred Simmons, the owner of a tae kwon do school in Concord, North Carolina. Fred is very conceited and lords over his students. He is married to a brassy-blonde named Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic) and drives a Ferrari. Fred's hero is Hollywood action star Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best) and Fred tries to emulate the man in his fighting style. In short, Fred thinks that he has it all. Then, Fred's world begins to fall apart. Martial discord and problems with his students give a roundhouse kick to Fred's ego and his world begins to fall apart. However, when he learns that Chuck "The Truck" is coming to town, he decides that meeting his idol will make everything better.

It's probably too early to call Danny McBride a great actor, but he's perfect in this movie. He never breaks character and we believe that he is Fred. He's the quintessential southern guy who didn't go to college, but still made good. Fred can't see beyond his cheesy moustache, dumb haircut, or denim shorts (Man, those denim shorts are dead on!), and as far as he's concerned, he's perfect. McBride plays Fred as the kind of guy who attempts to keep his emotions in check (of course he does, as he's a "sensei"), and we rarely see him smile in the movie. But, keeping with the macho code, it's perfectly fine for him to get upset or violent. McBride has too faces in the film, confused or angry and it must have given him a headache to keep that up for so long.

Unfortunately, outside of McBride's performance, there's not another redeeming feature to The Foot Fist Way. The movie fails on nearly every level. The humor comes from a sad and mean place, and other then McBride's reaction shots (and those denim shorts) the movie is rarely funny. We watch Fred insult people or the students fall down and we wait for something remotely clever to happen. The story, as it was, is very predictable. From the outset, we know that things are going to go wrong for Fred and that he's probably going to get some sort of comeuppance, but it's easy to guess where each scene is going. The movie wants to be funny, but it actually leans more towards depressing. I don't let the fact that a film is low-budget effect my opinion, but I must report that The Foot Fist Way certainly has a low-budget look, the film is filled with non-actors, and some shots are slightly out-of-focus.

A movie like The Foot Fist Way could have easily been doomed to obscurity, but it was picked up by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and distributed by MTV Films. I really liked Ferrell and McKay's work on Anchorman and Talladega Nights, but I have to question their sense of humor after seeing The Foot Fist Way. Again, Danny McBride knocks it out of the park with his performance and it's easy to see why he's gone on to bigger things (He'll always be Cousin Martin from The Heartbreak Kid to me), but the rest of the film is a letdown. This is a very typical slice-of-life film, but it presents a bunch of lives that we don't want anything to do with. And worst of all, it simply isn't funny. The Foot Fist Way goes down for the count.

The Foot Fist Way punches and kicks its way onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on 16mm film and this transfer shows the pros and cons of that medium, especially when used in a low-budget fashion. The image is sharp, but not especially clear. There is a fine sheen of grain on the image throughout the film. The picture is somewhat soft at times and some shots lack in detail (and again, some are focus-challenged). However, as is common on 16mm, the colors look very good, most notably reds and blues. The DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The bulk of the film sounds like a mono or stereo track at best, as most of the dialogue comes from the center channel. However, the movie is divided into chapters and when these chapter title cards appear, there is a sound effect which resounds through the surround channels and subwoofer.

The Foot Fist Way DVD contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Jody Hill, Actor Danny McBride, and Production Designer Randy Gambill. This is a very scene-specific commentary, as the group talks about the making of the movie. They mention the locations and the people who helped them to overcome their low budget. They talk about the origins of the story (Hill is actually a black-belt) and how the actors got involved.
The "Behind The Scenes Featurette" (25 minutes) is made up solely of on-set black & white film footage set to music. We get two "Bloopers" which run 2 minutes. The DVD contains twenty ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 31 minutes. These scenes are letterboxed at 1.85:1 and don't look as bad as the feature film. These scenes are just as banal as the movie. We also get an ALTERNATE ENDING (1 minute), which isn't funny or fulfilling.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long