The Quarantine Stream: 'The Foot Fist Way' Is Like 'Cobra Kai' For Sociopaths

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they've been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Series: The Foot Fist Way

Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The Pitch: Fred Simmons (Danny McBride) is one of the world's most gifted practitioners of the Korean fighting style known as Tae Kwan Do — or at least that's what he likes to tell people. Despite his supposed skills, Fred teaches students out of a dingy dojo, where he browbeats kids into learning the aggressive points of the martial arts without having much understanding of the philosophy or reasoning behind it.

Why It's Essential Viewing: Before writer/director Jody Hill and and actor Danny McBride gave us Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals and The Righteous Gemstones, they made waves in the indie cinema world with the low budget, dark comedy The Foot Fist Way. Take The Karate Kid (or the sequel series Cobra Kai), mix it with the oddball nature of Napoleon Dynamite's Rex Kwan Do, and throw it in a blender with beer, cigarettes and a myriad of narcotics, and you have the perfect recipe for The Foot Fist Way. This is the movie that launched Danny McBride into Hollywood, introducing us to his signature deadpan one-liners, abrasive antics, and oblivious arrogance that would define so many of his characters to come.

The Foot Fist Way follows Tae Kwan Do instructor Fred Simmons as he confidently strolls through life. Simmons thinks of himself as the "king of the demo," which means he must be extremely skilled in the martial arts. All of his students seem to look up to him and respect him, but the reality is that Fred Simmons is a loser. In fact, he's even worse, because he's a loser who doesn't know he's a loser. But he finds that out pretty quickly when he learns his trashy wife Suzie has been cheating on him with her new boss. This is the beginning of Fred's downfall, and it's is a hilariously brutal tumble to watch as he desperately tries to hold on to some shred of respect and dignity (of which he had very little to begin with) by kicking anyone down who dares to challenge him.

Adding to the hilarity are the oddball students under Fred's tutelage, especially chubby, nine-year old Julio Chavez and lanky, teenage Henry Harrison, who simply don't know that their instructor is a complete blowhard and tag along with him to seedy locations with awkward situations. There are big laughs from how Fred speaks to his young apprentices, simply because of how brash and inappropriate he is at all times. The deadpan responses and blank stares that all of Fred's students have to his madness also provide plenty of hilarity. Things only get more interesting after we meet Chuck "The Truck" Wallace, a B-movie action star and Chuck Norris wannabe who Fred admires above anyone.

But of course, the biggest draw of The Foot Fist Way is Danny McBride. Though you may have experienced his trademark comedy schtick already in other movies and TV shows, this was the first time it was executed to its full potential. McBride is more raw here than in any future performances, and he makes for a raucously hilarious, delusional sociopath. Though McBride has played a similiar part many times since, here it feels much more grounded and less exaggerated. You feel like you could actually find this guy teaching karate in a mini mall in Texas, but you'll be glad you only have to encounter him in this movie.