When asked by anybody to describe this film I simply say this: "Imagine an update on 'The Karate Kid', all grown up, his 15 minutes of fame spent, he's no longer in the best shape, he's running a small training centre, married to the town slut all shot in the style of 'The Office'..." Now I know it's Tae Kwon-Do (which translated into English is 'The Foot Fist Way', clever, huh?) but I think that summary works pretty well. Shot much the same as Kevin Smith's breakthrough debut 'Clerks' (not in style, however) director Jody Hill made it by racking up a debt of $70000 on credit cards with the help of good friends Danny McBride & Ben Best (both of whom excel in the movie as does Hill himself who appears as Simmons relentlessly creepy & dangerous friend Mike McAllister)
The film really took off when it was viewed by the Apatow stable while they were making 'Superbad' (yes, this film was made back in 2006 & criminally took over 2 years to get even a limited release this side of the Atlantic. Some may have spotted Danny McBride's cameo in 'Superbad', followed by his casting in 'Pineapple Express' amongst others, all based purely on the comedic chops he displayed with this film) & also by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay (director of 'Anchorman') all of whom have since pioneered the movie (thankfully so). Mere minutes into 'The Foot Fist Way', it's not hard to see why.
The film opens with a few young charges talking to some locals about their master, Fred Simmons (McBride) and the kind of teacher that he is. We then get an introduction to the man himself and within the opening three minutes learn exactly what kind of man he is. He's pompous, brash and egotistical, without the talent or success to back it up (& credit to co-writers Hill, Best & McBride, as well as McBride's performance, they found a way to make him loveable and sympathetic as his life and loves slowly crumble around him).
While this film is painfully short (at a measly 82 minutes long), you can't help but feel that, in one way or another, maybe it works in the movie's favour. Come the end credits you find yourself sitting there wanting more (as all truly great films make us feel). Also it makes repeat viewings (which you may very well find yourself thinking about before the film's final reel) more enticing. The film's humour is delightfully varied, mixing cringe-worthy situations (watching Simmons pursue the new female in his class whilst being blissfully unaware of - or perhaps just choosing not to notice - her complete lack of interest in him springs to mind), hilarious dialogue (Simmons explains, in almost medical detail, what exactly a hand-job is to one of his excruciatingly uncomfortable, teenage pupils before berating the boy for not matching Simmons' own high standard), with kick-ass physical humour (pun intended, Simmons confidence in a sweet little old lady as he pits her against a hulk of a man with obvious attitude and possible mental problems being one fine example with plenty others throughout).
In many ways 'The Foot Fist Way' is this decade's 'Clerks'. Both were low budget, made on a wing & pretty big prayer, both are ridiculously funny (there were honestly some moments during this film were I laughed so hard that I feared for my own physical well being) & with any luck this will go on to receive the kind of recognition it deserves, much like 'Clerks' did, with a steadily growing fan-base leading to a similar, special feature packed release (as the extras here are nothing short of disappointing, hopefully it won't take 10 years this time). Until then, at such a reasonable price, this is definitely a movie that's well worth adding to your collection.