The Art of Self-Defense

2019  104 MN

The Art of Self-Defense on IMDb
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Riley Stearns

Casey is attacked at random on the street and enlists in a local dojo led by a charismatic and mysterious Sensei in an effort to learn how to defend himself. What he uncovers is a sinister world of fraternity, violence and hypermasculinity and a woman fighting for her place in it.

 Release Date

July 12, 2019


1h44m (104 min)


$ 2,414,269

 Top Billed Cast

 Jesse Eisenberg
 Alessandro Nivola
 Imogen Poots
 David Zellner
 Phillip Andre Botello

 Written by

Riley Stearns Screenplay



Jesse Eisenberg
Alessandro Nivola
Imogen Poots
David Zellner
Phillip Andre Botello
Jason Burkey
Dallas Edwards
Mike Brooks
Leland Orser
  Detective McCallister
Josh Fadem
  Serial Killer
Davey Johnson
  Gun Store Owner
Nicholas Hulstine
  Pickup Truck Driver
Lena Friedrich
  French Girl
Apollo Bacala
  Karate Day Class Student
Caroline Amiguet
  French Audio Instructor


Heather McIntosh
  Original Music Composer
Nathan Zellner
  Executive Producer
David Zellner
  Executive Producer
Riley Stearns
Riley Stearns
Charlotte Royer
  Production Design
Michael Ragen
  Director of Photography
Sarah Beth Shapiro
Andrew Kortschak
Walter Kortschak
Stephanie Whonsetler


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 New Review


‘The Art of Self-Defense’ is a truly funny, dark experience that will polarise audiences, hopefully leaving most of them satisfied. Just try not to think about it too much.
- Ashley Teresa

Read Ashley's full article...


I went in expecting mumblecore, but got more of a Wes Anderson (which, to be fair, a primary influence of mumblecore). Wes Anderson almost always has violence in his movies, but probably nothing so brutal as _The Art of Self-Defense_. I thought that the whole movie would essentially be setting up Eisenberg as an awkward, meek nerd, who at the very end would go uber-violent, and the joke that they bothered to make a movie for would essentially be "You didn't think this guy would punch very good but then he does". Happy to say, I was wrong. Not only does Eisenberg punch pretty good on actually more than one occasion, there's also a story in _The Art of Self-Defense_ as well, which I was not expecting. Now I still didn't think it was very good, and I definitely didn't think it was very funny, but my very low expectations were exceeded, so in the end I'm actually moderately happy with this one.

_Final rating:★★½ - Had a lot that appealed to me, didn’t quite work as a whole._


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