The Art of Self-Defense (2019)


The Art of Self-Defense

When I first saw the trailer for this film I knew I had to see it. It looked like it was going to be a wonderful dark comedy centered around karate of all things. I’ve never heard of the filmmaker of this movie but the idea of Jesse Eisenberg learning karate to fend off bullies and delivering deadpan delivery is alluring in and of itself. The film manages to blend its comedy and thrills extremely well and is a really good time all around. I was unsure about the closing stages of the film but it is certainly a remarkably entertaining and unique time.

The film is about a timid accountant who one day is mugged and beaten severely by a motorcycle gang. He decides that he wants to learn how to defend himself and stumbles across a karate gym that immediately intrigues him. He meets a very bizarre Sensei and quickly tries to assimilate the skills he learns to improve all aspects of his life and become more manly. Little does he know the darkness within the underworld of this karate world.

I loved Eisenberg’s character in this. To see his character progress and to watch the confidence grow, its a joy. The Sensei character is also so entertaining. The films script is so sharp in all the right places. Even the serious moments are funny because of the dark comedic writing. That makes it worthwhile. Its also refreshing to see a look into the world of karate and the growth in stature in the art, whether this film plays it to be factual or makes up stuff.

As the film was winding down you felt the twists and turns coming and also hope the film doesn’t fall apart. Luckily, it doesn’t and manages to stay intact with respect to the tone of the first half of the film. This may fly under a lot of people’s radars but I wish for everyone to go and see this.I don’t think I’ve actually seen anything quite like this before. Its unique in its nature and has fun with a very creative plot.


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