It’s always a cause for concern when every trailer ahead of the film on a DVD is shit. Just who do they think this film is going to appeal to? In the case of Foot Fist Way I was treated to Disaster Movie and Superhero Movie trailers. My initial response, I’m sure you can imagine, was not particularly positive. Specifically, I said to myself, “Oh shit.”
Were it a rental I might have switched off there. But I’d committed to writing the review and so I hit the play button and braced myself for impact.
Foot Fist Way (the English translation of Tae Kwon Do, my 40 seconds of internet research suggests) is a comedy about the trials and tribulations of martial arts instructor Fred Simmons (Danny McBride). Fred applies himself fully to running his small tae kwon do dojo, leaving everything else in his life second best (or lower, obviously).
So serious does Fred take his dojo that he sells his car and dedicates himself to trying to bring Chuck ‘The Truck’ Wallace, a martial arts movie star, to his students’ up-coming grading. Unfortunately for Fred, his unfaithful wife can’t resist the opportunity to spend ‘some time’ with a movie star, and he finds that his hero has now become his nemesis. Fred must prove himself to his students, friends and those who don’t take him seriously, as he takes on ‘The Truck’ in a bizarre final showdown.
I’ll start out by saying that I wasn’t at all blown away by Foot Fist Way, but it’s not the catastrophe the trailers suggested.
Foot Fist Way is a loose comedy that feels mostly improvised. Whilst this has proved an extremely popular way of mining laughs for the Judd Apatow camp, it doesn’t really work here. The joke of the ridiculous character taking everything seriously is established and played out in the first five minutes. The film then spends much time rehashing it in a variety of situations before embarking on a plot that feels more like an obligation than part of the story.
The film feels a little like a low budget cousin to a Will Ferrell movie (Ferrell is interviewed in the bonus features having worked on the film), but with all of the set pieces removed. As such, we’re left with little more than improvised dialogue, much of which doesn’t work.
Foot Fist Way isn’t without positives. Danny McBride shows promise and has proved in Pineapple Express that he’s much better when he has someone to bounce off. On the few instances that things do work, they work really well. Watching a furious McBride take out his frustrations on a young student is hilarious. I also felt a little guilty for just how hard I laughed when the elderly lady in his class gets taken out in full contact sparring.
Foot Fist Way is a badly flawed comedy. Flaws aren’t something I’ll deny a film, though, particularly a low budget one. The real problem here, though, is not just a few minor flaws. Rather, it’s one huge issue that prevents the film from ever getting out of first gear. Foot Fist Way just isn’t very funny.
Extras Included on the disc are interviews, a trailer and probably the shortest and least amusing blooper reel I’ve ever seen. However, for those who do enjoy the film (and it’s developed a cult following) the real highlight of the disc is the 30 minutes of deleted scenes. Given how loosely the film was clearly put together, it’s of a similar quality of content to the rest of the film.
26 January 2009