Mick Foley has gone through many personas on and off the wrestling scene through the years, and it is entertaining to see where people first picked up on the Foley train. If you are like Randy Miller III or myself, you remember Mick's time from the ECW or even WCW days. A wider audience saw him in the documentary Beyond The Mat, where he was handcuffed, taking shots to the head with a folding metal chair while his wife and children sat at ringside, horrified. A wider audience still came to know Foley from his bestselling works as an author. The first two books were autobiographical tomes, subsequent works have been a mix of fiction, more autobiographical work and children's books. Now as Foley embarks on a stand-up comedy(!) career, the desire to revisit his life to date in For All Mankind is done.
The feature is set up similar to other recent WWE releases, with the film's subject on one disc and the matches on any additional ones. Going from memory, but I do not think Foley's previous multi-disc DVD set included a film or general career retrospective other than the matches, so this film was a nice refresher on Foley's life before and after wrestling. Before diving into the film, let us talk for a minute about the packaging. The set comes with a sock and a face drawn on it, covering the disc packaging. Fans will recognize the sock as â€˜Mr. Socko,' the sock puppet Foley used to help try and help pick up the spirits of WWE owner Vince McMahon on-screen during his feud with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the â€˜90s. But once you get past the packaging (the sock is admittedly a small chore to get off of the case) and into the discs, that is where the rewards lie.
The film is narrated by Foley, and includes a slew of interview participants including his friends, co-workers and family, as Foley talks about his youth, his attending of WWF shows at Madison Square Garden and watching the steel cage match with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Don "Magnificent" Muraco, when Snuka leapt from a cage 25 feet in the air onto Muraco. He evolved from a preliminary worker (or â€˜jobber') in the WWF before moving to other promotions to hone his craft both as a worker and talker, before returning to the WWE, his reputation of doing crazy things in matches preceding him. This was crystallized during his feud with the Undertaker, specifically in the Hell in a Cell match when Undertaker threw Foley (as Mankind) off the top of a cage onto an announcing table below. Foley took a beating that night, and the fans' opinion of him turned into a more popular one in the process.
Foley brings his typical good humor fond on his TV interviews and books into the film easily, and the mix of home video and sit down interviews combined with a dusting of still photos makes for an entertaining film. Even more so, what the film does well is that it lets even the most fluent an expert in Foley a chance to rediscover some of his life for the first time. Personally, I did not remember that Foley went to high school with Kevin James. Yes, THAT Kevin James, of Paul Blart lore. Yet there is the picture to prove it. Some of the famous moments in Foley's life are given their due as well, whether it is the Hell in a Cell match, or the moment when Foley's ear was torn off (ew!) during a match. In between the matches and home video, there are few moments when Foley has to carry a moment with narration, it is an effectively done production.
Then there are the matches. I had a gripe about the match selection in the last WWE DVD I had seen, particularly with how well the film was done. So what is the match list like? Glad you asked:
Jack Foley & Les Thornton vs. The British Bulldogs (Superstars - September, 1986)
Cactus Jack & Gary Young vs. Scott Steiner & Bill Travis(AWA All-Star Wrestling - October, 1988)
Cactus Jack Manson vs. Brickhouse Brown (Wild West Wresting - April, 1989)
Cactus Jack vs. Keith Hart (Power Hour - March, 1990)
Cactus Jack vs. Sting (Power Hour - Submit or Surrender Match - November, 1991)
Cactus Jack vs. Van Hammer (Clash of the Champions XVIII - Falls Count Anywhere - January 21, 1992)
Cactus Jack vs. Sandman (Barbed Wire Match - May, 1995)
Cactus Jack vs. Shane Douglas (Cyberslam - February, 1996)
Mankind vs. Rocky Maivia (In Your House: Cold Day In Hell - May 11, 1997)
Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (In Your House: Canadian Stampede - July 6, 1997)
Dude Love vs. Rocky Maivia (Raw - November 17, 1997)
Mankind vs. Undertaker (King of the Ring - Hell in a Cell - June 28, 1998)
Mankind & Kane vs. New Age Outlaws (WWE Tag Team Championship - Raw - July 13, 1998)
Mankind vs. The Rock (In Your House: Rock Bottom - WWE Championship - December 13, 1998)
Mankind & The Rock vs. Triple H & Shane McMahon (WWE Tag Team Championship - Smackdown - September 2, 1999)
Mankind vs. Al Snow (Smackdown - December 16, 1999)
Mankind vs. Triple H (No Way Out - Hell in a Cell â€" February 27, 2000)
The big takeaway I get from ticking off the match list from this set is how many unique matches there are compared to Greatest Hits & Misses. More than 30 matches span the two sets, and only two are redundant among them: the match with the Bulldogs (for nostalgic reasons as it was Foley's second match ever and first one on video) and the Hell in a Cell one (for more obvious reasons). And this match list is just as impressive, with Foley's farewell and several noteworthy matches with Maivia/The Rock/Dwayne Johnson through the years.
With For All Mankind, the three-disc set may serve as Foley's farewell to the squared circle, but he does so in this set covering everything under the sun, and with a convincing mix of his highlights, favorite moments, and is more than willing to show folks what he has done since stopping wrestling actively, and stopping appearing in wrestling shows on a part-time basis. I can only hope that he gets success in his comedy like he has had with his wrestling and writing, because it would add another meaty chapter in what has become an enormously fascinating life.
The set is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, though most of the footage in the film (and all of the matches) appear in full frame, limited to production values of the time. There are some source material flaws which is understandable in the home video shooting, and the matches are represented as accurately as one could imagine. Colors are reproduced nicely and there is no noticeable image processing to distract from viewing. It looks as good as it is going to look.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround rules the day, with the results being about as could be expected. The film does not employ much of the soundstage in the experience, and as far as the matches go, the rear channels do get a little bit more work, with the subwoofer trying to engage but ultimately staying dormant. I do not believe the listening experience could have gotten more work done than what is here, and I did not find myself wanting more.
I was not sure where to put this exactly, but the first match, Cyberslam and Hell in a Cell matches include alternate commentary with Foley and former ECW commentator (now current WWE employee) Joey Styles. Of note, the first match and Hell in a Cell matches were on the Greatest Hits & Misses DVD set, but there were no commentaries before, which would lead me to believe these are new tracks. If so, big time kudos to the WWE and to Foley for the extra effort.
For All Mankind works in a variety of ways and fits any number of interested viewers. As a standalone release, the set covers Foley's famous and infamous moments, his life highs and lows in and out of the ring, almost any aspect one could anticipate. For those who have Foley's other three-disc set, not only do the matches on it complement those in previous video incarnations, but the film helps serve as a very good exclamation point to Foley's career. An easy buying decision for new or longtime wrestling fans, and worth checking out for those who are neither of those as well.