The Art of Self-Defense – Review – Fans of Dark Comedy Will Be Delighted

The Art of Self-Defense - Review - Fans of Dark Comedy Will Be Delighted

good evening everyone James and here I'm back to review the new dark comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg the art of self-defense from writer director Riley Stearns not to worry I won't give anything away until I give you fair warning but what I will say is that this is definitely the most deranged and at times most hysterical movie about martial arts since Jodie hills filmed the foot fist way back in 2006 but that might not be the best comparison and that the art of self-defence is considerably more morbid than that earlier cult classic I've got a soft spot for these kinds of movies and then I've dabbled a bit with a few different forms of martial arts to myself never enough to be considered anything more than a relative beginner but I did her my green belt in karate back in college and could probably still whip out a few Coty's as if I had a few drinks in me and come to think of it I probably should have whipped out my old ghee for this review because I still got that sucker folded up my closet for my 20 years again but anytime I hear about a new show or movie set in the world of karate my interest is immediately piqued because if you've seen the trailer you'll know that this film follows a young accountant who's tired of being afraid of everything and he wishes to become that which he fears he finds the perfect mentor and a character known only as sensei played brilliantly by Alessandro Nivola and the teacher proceeds to take a special interest in transforming either Marc's character Casey into the type of man he wishes to be – the types of languages he studies – the kind of dog he keeps in his home it's a complete total character metamorphosis and what this one reminded me of most was two kind of dark edgy films we used to see a lot of back in the 1990's during the great heyday of American independent movies filmmakers like Todd Solondz or Abel Ferrara or Neela Butte they were more than happy to take their audiences to strange upsetting territory places that are pretty much ignored entirely in today's risk-averse movie climate what I like about the art of self-defense is how it has the courage of its convictions and plays it's unusual premise out to the bitter end without ever chickening out and turning into some kind of feel-good rom-com like so many other movies have in the past I won't claim it's a perfect movie and it does have a lot of problems in its third act but tonight's audience myself included was absolutely howling with laughter throughout the majority of this deranged tale so if you have a taste for rougher material with a dry ironic sense of humor I do think you should give this movie a shot that's as far as I can go without giving anything major away so bail out now if you don't want to hear any of the juicy details because it now it's time to dig into the meat of this movie so without falling prey to any of the nauseating nostalgia the per me so much of pop culture these days the artists self-defense it does recreate an unspecified pre-internet era presumably the late 80s there's no internet folks are still using landlines and CDs and VHS is alive and well and for people who are interested in martial arts in the history of martial arts this is a particularly important period because with the arrival of mixed martial arts it's a sport and the 90s a lot of these isolated insular martial arts communities went away for good because once a athletes started traveling between schools and sharing information both in person in online martial arts in the United States went through this massive metamorphosis in a really short period of time becoming a legitimate regulated sport but prior to that period in the absence of competition a lot of charlatans and artists were able to get away with cultivating these environments more similar to those like a cult a phenomenon that still sadly persists in some circles today and if you want to go down a very fun rabbit hole on YouTube do a search for fake martial arts and I promise you you will spend many hours laughing your ass off I grow them in basically still playing like that on the playground but long win a point in all this is that the film the artists self-defense takes this pre mixed martial arts era of insular cult-like doges and then amps it up to this crazy extreme what begins is a very entertaining and humorous path to badassery by Eisenberg's character Casey slowly shifts into much more disturbing territory once he's allowed to start attending the clandestine night courses reserved only for the most hardcore dedicated students at the school there's all sorts of terrible stuff going on behind the scenes and he soon learns that this school is a front for all sorts of bloodthirsty behavior from blackmail to murder all out of blind obedience to the sensei in my opinion the movie comes dangerously close to coming almost completely unwound in this latter section where the humor drives up entirely and suddenly we're expected to take this rather ridiculous premise totally seriously but somehow miraculously the film is structured in a way where manages to deliver on each and every plotline and every little ingredient has been teased up to that point and puts a very satisfying bow on the whole package I was illegitimate Lee shocked at how satisfying I found the ending to be and that usually once the movie loses the narrative thread the thread is gone for good but some of this movie manages to stick the landing and I think it's due to the cast the cast plays a huge role in salvaging the movie overall Imogen Poots is absolutely fantastic as one of the sensations our students a student who's more than happy to choke out our fellow students and nearly bludgeon them to death with her elbow if they appear to be receiving favorable treatment over her due to her gender and in a particularly funny scene she's teaching her students how to do the rear naked choke and these are relatively small kids but there's a rule in the wall that says tap or take a nap and this relatively obese young boy forgets that rule and doesn't picking a little nap for a while but when he wakes up he very obediently says tap or take a nap when it comes to the story overall Jesse Eisenberg has to do most of the heavy lifting and he's perfectly suited to the task whether he's openly weeping in his car because someone intimidated him or he's awkwardly trying to interact with some of the alpha males in his office he absolutely nails this kind of beta male persona which makes him seem all the more psychotic as he starts listening to metal and punching people in the throat they give him any ship and the trailer does a really good job of capturing the tone and the atmosphere of the first half the movie it features some advisor Berg's best character beats as he transforms from this man who's afraid of the dark to a master of his own destiny who eventually ends up challenging his teacher to an unarmed duel to the death and if either Jesse Eisenberg or Alessandro Nivola had broken character even for a second the entire movie would have completely collapsed and like I said it very nearly does so until somehow magical in the last 10 minutes everything comes together beautifully and left me with this big giant grin on my face so I recognize that this movie clearly would not be for everybody dark drive violent ironic comedies are definitely not everybody's cup of tea but something tells me that a very small but passionate fan base could easily emerge around this movie in the years to come if I show like Cobra Kai is far too soft and fuzzy and nostalgic for your tastes the artists self-defense very well might push your buttons in an interesting way and this is my first exposure to write our director Riley Stearns whose only previous features the 2014 film faults but I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on his work in the years to come in any event that's much Beall in this movie if you enjoyed this review please consider subscribing on my channel liking the video all that good stuff if you want to talk about mixed martial arts martial arts movies or this movie in particular you can always hunt me down on twitter at callbacks or just leave a comment in the comments below but can't take any for watching the video and support my channel and really appreciate it but more importantly as always onwards and upwards


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