The Art of Self-Defense

Critics Consensus

The Art of Self-Defense grapples compellingly with modern American masculinity -- and serves as an outstanding calling card for writer-director Riley Stearns.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 162

63%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 631

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Movie Info

After getting attacked on the street, Casey enlists in a local dojo that's led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei. He soon uncovers a sinister fraternity of violence and masculinity while learning how to defend himself. Casey must now embark on a dark and frightening journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor.

Cast & Crew

Mike V. Szuc
Steve
C.J. Rush
Other Steve
Davey Johnson
Gun Store Owner
Riley Stearns
Screenwriter
Andrew Karpen
Executive Producer
Munika Lay
Executive Producer
Kent Sanderson
Executive Producer
David Zellner
Executive Producer
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News & Interviews for The Art of Self-Defense

Critic Reviews for The Art of Self-Defense

All Critics (162) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (136) | Rotten (26)

Audience Reviews for The Art of Self-Defense

  • Mar 10, 2020
    There's indie films that tread the line of popularity and then there's indie films like The Art of Self-Defense. This was a dark and insanely comical film, and it almost hit my top 9 of 2019. Great cast and a concept that leads to unpredictable outcomes. I caught this on a flight, but will revisit on a larger screen down the line. The film won't appeal to everyone, but if you're in the market for a dark indie film, this will fill the void. The filmmakers have a strong style, and the character development is carefully done. This is why indie films exist. There's no playbook here, it's chaos at work. 03/02/2020
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2020
    This is a quirky movie fit for Eisenberg's persona. It's an odd narrative, but has its moments of humor, with some diminishing returns. Eisenberg and Nivola are good in their roles, but the tone of the movie wears down on you after a certain point. There are aspects of this movie I do really like, but in the end, I didn't feel like I had much to take away from it.
    Sanjay R Super Reviewer
  • Jan 17, 2020
    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.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2019
    An interesting and quirky look at modern life, Eisenberg absolutely excellent as a hopeless urbanite, clueless as to why he doesn't connect with his fellow men - until he learns how to. Connect! Although quietly told this is a resonant work, auspicious for writer/director Riley Stearns.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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