Haven’t heard of this one? Don’t beat yourself up, neither have a lot of people. Another in the line of Paramount Vantage releases (and another exclusive to Best Buy stores), The Foot Fist Way is a relatively obscure film from 2006 “brought” to us by Will Ferrell and Adam McCay. While it didn’t strike it big and is likely only being released due to the recent success of Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder), it’s still nice to see this film on DVD and shortly after watching it you’ll understand why. There just isn’t quite anything else like The Foot Fist Way on the market and I’m not entirely sure there ever will be again.
Taekwondo instructor Fred Simmons (McBride) seems to have it all: a hot wife, his own dojo and an awesome car. Unfortunately his ego suffers a huge blow after he discovers his wife’s been having an affair. In an attempt to cope with the pain, he goes on a road trip with one of his oldest friends and two of his brightest pupils to meet Fred’s idol, Chuck “The Truck” Wallace (Ben Best), a martial arts film star. Fred soon learns that his idol isn’t everything he hoped for and finds him facing off against his hero in the battle to end them all.
When I was offered the chance to review this film, I jumped at it simply because of McBride. I’d been a fan of his since Hot Rod and while I didn’t exactly enjoy his films after that (I’ve yet to see his two latest, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, so I can’t comment on those yet), I still found the man hilarious. Within minutes of putting The Foot Fist Way into the player I was already laughing, which is always a good sign. The foul mouthed nature of this Taekwondo teacher and the way he talked to people was just flat-out hilarious and I was quickly caught up in the film. Shortly into it, however, it lost me and I’m not sure it ever recovered since when it stumbled, it did so big time and took the flow of the film with it.
While the plot remained entertaining, the characters began to become rather flat. McBride’s role as the sensei remained strong, but every time a supporting character came in it just felt like it was dragging the film down. Occasionally there’d be the quick interspersed sequence where it’d pick up again, but it was the roundtrip to see Chuck “The Truck” Wallace that really brought it down. It was necessary for the story, but the inclusion of a new character to the mix for the journey and another once we meet Wallace was just too much for the film and seemed to bring it down.
Even with those flaws however, it was still a lot of fun to watch. I can only liken it to something that feels kind of like a reality show in pacing, as it seems to ebb and flow with each sequence rather than have a straightforward goal to the finish, so we never really can tell what’s going to happen next. This does keep things interesting, but like I mentioned above, when those things include slapping new characters in short succession, it adds a bit of weight to the film.
The scenes between Chris and his wife, Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic), were some of the best in the film and after watching the original ending to the film, I was really disappointed with how the film actually did end. There was just something strange about how this Taekwondo teacher was acting and as morbid and screwed up as the alternate ending was, it was about fifty times funnier and actually, somehow, made for a more fitting ending. Perhaps that’s just my dark sense of humor kicking in but, man…that alternate ending was pure gold.
There isn’t too much to get wrapped up in during this films short eighty-two minute run time, but it was still pure fun to watch. I’m sure some won’t like the tone of the film and there’s even a strange quote on the front of the box by Roger Ebert (“Children should not be allowed within a mile of this film.”) that really doesn’t make sense as the film is already rated R, so of course children shouldn’t be near it. But while that quote makes the film seem more bad-ass than it really is, it doesn’t really diminish your enjoyment of it.
Overall a fun film that comes Recommended, but due to the nature of the comedy and how…unorthodox it is, it might be better to just Rent It. Although I can’t really recommend that either since it’s a Best Buy exclusive, so your only way to watch it is to buy it or rent it from Netflix who appear to carry it as well, so we’re kind of stuck. It’s definitely not worth plunking down the $22.99 Best Buy is currently charging for it (as of this writing at least), but it’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of McBride at least (or of things that McCay and Ferrell recommend, as that’s really all they did with this title…they’ve no actual credits for the film that I can see) or are already subscribing to the Netflix service.
Arriving in a standard amaray DVD case (with those safety lock so the kids “can’t” open it!), The Foot Fist Way comes with a fair smattering of extras to wade through. The disc art is your usual Paramount grey wash, with menus being simple and easy to navigate. The video transfer for the film is middle-of-the-road, with a heavy amount of gray mixing in with the image, but that’s to be expected due to the look of the film and also that it was obviously shot on a low budget. As is it’s a decent representation of the film and the 5.1 mix included is mostly front-channel focused, so don’t be too concerned about listening to this one with the surrounds on. An alternate Spanish 5.1 track is also available, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
First up on the extras docket is a commentary with Director Jody Hill, Actor Danny McBride and Production Designer Randy Gambill. As can be expected, the men who made this film are quite a riot to listen to and this is really a fine commentary. It’s quite enjoyable and if you enjoyed the film at all, give this one a listen; it can get a bit dry at times, but for the most part the guys keep it alive and informative, with a healthy amount of behind-the-scenes tidbits being thrown about.
Next up is Behind the Scenes Featurette (25:13), which sounds like it’d be the standard making-of fair but in reality, is just a really long montage of black and white behind-the-scenes footage that looks like it was shot with a camera from the 50s. It’s kind of fun to watch for the first five minutes, but when you realize you have another twenty of footage that is completely random and is accompanied by an audio track made up purely of instrumental music, it gets to be a bit much. Thankfully the Bloopers (2:12) are of the standard variety, although there are only two of them (which you can actually choose between, which is rather weird—never seen a blooper reel that actually was divided up on the menu before).
Next up we have Additional Scenes (30:51) of which there are twenty total. This is like a whole other part of the film included here and it’s quite enjoyable to watch, although it’s the “Alternate Ending” (1:11) that really had me rolling. The full title of the alternate ending is “Alternate Ending: Fred Murders Suzie”, which should give you a clear idea of just how this film originally ended. I thought it was meant as a joke that he “murders” her heart or something, but nope…he really does kill her. Absolutely fantastic…too bad they didn’t keep that ending attached to the film.
Overall a solid release in terms of extras, but whether you pick this one up will really depend on your faith in the recommendations of Adam McCay, Will Ferrell and by just how much enjoyment you can glean from a film that has really only one “star” (McBride), of which that’s even debatable until he breaks into more films with greater frequency. Recommended.
The Foot Fist Way arrives on DVD on September 23rd and is a Best Buy exclusive.