The Foot Fist Way (2006)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Martial Arts  |   Release Date - May 30, 2008 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Of Danny McBride's two modes -- funny-mean and mean-mean -- only the latter is on display in The Foot Fist Way. The debut feature by Observe and Report director and McBride buddy Jody Hill, The Foot Fist Way was expected to be a hit when it was picked up by Will Ferrell's production company, but it languished for two years after its initial festival screenings, finally earning a limited theatrical release in 2008. It bears a number of similarities to Napoleon Dynamite, which also briefly included a blowhard tae kwon do instructor (Diedrich Bader), as well as a mostly nonverbal Latino kid (there Pedro, here Julio) who serves as a would-be cult figure. A semi-connected series of vignettes about the main character served that movie well, but here it just provides more and more evidence of his disagreeability. Those who've watched McBride's HBO series Eastbound & Down will have a pretty good idea what to expect, as instructor Fred Simmons is essentially the same character as former major leaguer Kenny Powers -- irredeemably foul-mouthed, full of himself, excessively confident in his skills with women, etc., etc. The obnoxious and insecure bully with no sense of self is a standard character type, and McBride and Hill don't give us anything we haven't seen before. Some isolated moments do have value for the sheer squirm factor, but even those have been done better in many other films. Making matters worse is that it feels every inch the low-budget production that it is, from the grainy film stock to the less-than-fully-competent actors cast in supporting roles. The good news for McBride? By the time The Foot Fist Way was actually released, he was already on the verge of becoming entrenched as a beloved comic personality, appearing in one high-profile comedy after another.