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October 29, 2008

DVD REVIEW: The Foot Fist Way


By Stephen Silver

A mega-low-budget comedy that has earned the love of the Hollywood comedic establishment and won its star a spot in the Judd Apatow acting company, The Foot Fist Way has arrived on DVD. Is it up to the hype? In a few places, yes.


The film, directed by Jody Hill, was shot, in 19 days, in a documentary-like style similar to that of The Office, with a budget of under $80,000. It showed at Sundance a couple of years ago and finally got a theatrical and then DVD release this year. The gags are a mix of broad physical comedy and Curb Your Enthusiasm-like cringe humor, while the title comes from the literal translation of "taekwando."


Danny McBride, seen more recently in such big-budget comedies as Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express, stars in the film as Fred Simmons, the owner of a third-rate Taekwondo dojo in small-town North Carolina.


Living with his trashy wife (Mary Jane Bostic), Fred tries to inspire his charges with sometimes unorthodox methods, such making kids call him "sir," exposing them to extreme violence and telling a female student she should take up the sport in order to prevent "gang rape." Fred and a couple of his students, however, get more than they bargained for when they meet his hero, a Chuck Norris-like martial arts action star (Ben Best).


The Foot Fist Way is at its best with its use of deadpan humor, as well as the Simmons character, a wonderful comic creation who portended really memorable characters played by McBride in the Apatow movies. A strange guy in a small town who incongruously drives a Ferrari, Simmons is a much more original creation than your typical lead character in a Hollywood film.


Where the movie steps wrongly is with some of the physical gags, which are hit or miss, as well as the generally creepy aspect of Simmons saying and doing inappropriate things in front of children, and in some cases their parents. Why would any parent allow their kid to spend time with this guy? People who take the tenets of martial arts seriously might be downright offended by this movie as well.


The Foot Fist Way may be imperfect and even reprehensible at times, but isn't totally without laughs in fact, it's got quite a few. Dollar for dollar, the movie's laugh rate isn't bad at all.


2.5 stars out of 4


2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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