The Foot Fist Way: review

19 August 2010

Written by: Meghan Lodwick

The Foot Fist Way is an obscure comedy picked up by the keen radars of eminent funny men Will Ferrell and Adam Mackay.

The low budget film chronicles the struggle of Tae Kwon Do instructor Fred Simmons (Danny McBride). Simmons’ life is turned upside down when his smoking hot wife, Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic), accidentally brings work home. Work being photocopies of her naked body pressed up against the Xerox machine with her boss.

Meanwhile, he is tasked with prepping his pupils – including two young kids he personally mentors – for their grading in the aforementioned martial art. Hilarity ensues when he attempts to allure a new attractive student, who spurns his increasingly desperate advances after being called into his office for some one-on-one time.

Simmons tries to pull himself out of this emotional trough by dragging equally his sketchy high school buddy and his two protégées to a convention to meet Chuck Norris rip-off, Chuck ‘The Truck’ Wallace (Ben Best). Yet, he discovers his hero, ‘The Truck’, is actually a debauched, unfit lothario who doesn’t uphold the tenets of Tae Kwon Do Simmons’ holds so dear.
The Foot Fist Way is a character study of a pretty uninteresting person. McBride slaps on plenty of shock value, misogyny and gross-out humour, elegantly combining the latter two in a scene where he urinates on his wedding ring. However, the way in which this man deals with challenges and the intensity he maintains throughout his ordeal makes him fun to watch.

Simmons’ passion for Tae Kwon Do which he channels through intense demos, of which he is ‘the master’, is infectious, and you will find yourself genuinely interested in the techniques and values associated with it. The action scenes are absurd in a very Will Ferrell way; in fact, the whole movie exudes the kind of niche bizarreness that could garner it a strong following from fans from his 2004 film, Anchorman.

Simmons’ comes across as someone trying to maintain control on a life quickly spiralling out of it. He likes to drive a Ferrari (which he has to sell to pay for Wallace to appear at his Tae Kwon Do grading), keep tabs on his philandering wife and generally be a bad-ass in all aspects of life. But despite being a fourth Dan black belt, his actual skills are expectedly lame and made even more hilarious thanks to McBride’s decidedly un-Tae Kwon Do body type.

However, many aspects are accurate; in fact, Tae Kwon Do loosely translates into ‘the way of the foot and fist’. Many of the moves appear to be genuine and even the student oath that real practitioners of the art are required to recite is featured in the film. Thus, despite never having engaged in the national sport of Korea myself, I proclaim that this film is required watching for any real Tae Kwon Do-ers out there.

Aside from McBride, who some might recognise as Red from Pineapple Express, the film maintains its underground, low-budget aesthetic by avoiding well known stars. Many of the performances given are pretty uninspiring, and all are outshone by McBride’s overzealous portrayal as an instructor.

The film relies on the credibility lent to it by the endorsement of Will Ferrell and Adam Mackay, the comedy power duo responsible for upcoming film, The Other Guys.

Was their confidence misplaced? Somewhat, as this is a film that is funny and charming to a degree, but the eccentric characters are so out there it can be hard to relate. This is opposed to the quirkiness of a character like, Napoleon Dynamite, who is affable and benign rather than in-your-face brusque.

It is no wonder, then, that this film failed to live up to the expectations of its illustrious patrons. There are plenty of laughs to be had, just few cleverly conceived or memorable.


RATING: 6.5/10

The Foot Fist Way was released straight to DVD in Australia last June.

James Ritchie is a Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. This review was first published on his blog Media Australis.