The Art of Self-Defense

After being attacked on the street, a young man enlists at a local dojo led by a mysterious sensei.
Psychological Thriller
Big Plot Twist

 

United States
2019
Feature Film
Realism: 
Plausible
Character Focus: 
Cultist Film
Professional Film
Cultists: 
Clubbist
Guru
Worshipper
Trickster: 
Impostor
Lurer
7.04
It'll kick you with its fist!
4
6
7.04
7.04
3
3
2
Performances
Editing
Plot
Meet Sensei, a misogynist karate teacher concerned about the size of your dick and the music you listen to. He thinks your dog is a pussy. He’s obsessed by color codes, compartmenting, and hierarchy. He’s played by Alessandro Nivola who will crack you up. Jesse Eisenberg plays the white/yellow belt who’s discovering what this karate school is all about and is constantly astonished.
Karate is an honorable sport, but it’s also kind of strange, especially when you realize it’s just another pyramid scheme. But that’s not exactly what this dojo does to you. It’s an enigma. It’s a collection of rules and mysteries with a lot of decorum. Once you’ve learned its secrets, you want to watch this movie all over again, if only to find the clues left behind.
The antagonists are willing to go to great lengths just to meet their goals, and that’s the script’s biggest weakness. Also, some of its twists and turns are predictable. The humor is so dark you don’t notice it half the time. Whether or not it’s done on purpose, you don’t always get a reaction shot when something horrible happens. Writer and director Riley Stearns trusts our intelligence.
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