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The Art Of Self-Defense

Casey Davies (Jesse Eisenberg) needs to change his life. Single, friendless, and picked on at work, he’s a wimp, a lamb in a world of wolves. And after getting randomly attacked on the street while out buying dog food, he decides that it’s now or never. So he signs up at a local dojo run by a charismatic and mysterious sensei (Alessandro Nivola), ready to learn the tenets of karate. “I’m afraid of other men,” he tells Sensei. “They intimidate me. I want to be what intimidates me.”

Poster for the dark comedy The Art Of Self-DefenseBe careful what you wish for, Casey. Though the classes boost his confidence and defense skills – the confrontation with his co-workers is the uproarious centerpiece of the film – Casey soon realizes that something deeply sinister is happening within the dojo’s walls, and now he’s in too deep.

Blending big, broad laughs with go-for-the-throat thriller conventions, The Art Of Self-Defense is a blackly comic, often shocking deconstruction of toxic masculinity and cultural appropriation (the dojo and its students are overwhelmingly white) and a wicked satire on those who prey on American insecurity.

– Marcus Gorman, Seattle International Film Festival

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