The Art of Self-Defense (2019) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Art of Self-Defense2019

The Art of Self-Defense (2019)



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

The Art of Self-Defense Videos

The Art of Self-Defense Photos

Movie Info

After he's attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang, timid bookkeeper Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself. Under the watchful eye of a charismatic instructor, Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), and hardcore brown belt Anna (Imogen Poots), Casey gains a newfound sense of confidence for the first time in his life. But when he attends Sensei's mysterious night classes, he discovers a sinister world of fraternity, brutality and hyper-masculinity, presenting a journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor. Audacious and offbeat, The Art of Self-Defense is an original dark comedy that takes toxic masculinity to absurd extremes.

Watch it now


Katherine Martin
as Bakery Woman
Nicholas Hulstine
as Pickup Truck Driver
Lena Friedrich
as French Girl
Alex Haydon
as Man Wearing Pants
Leland Orser
as Detective McAllister
Josh Fadem
as Serial Killer
Scott Goodman
as Drunk Man
Justin Eaton
as Lone Man
Apollo Bacala
as Karate Day Class Student
Will Ellis Jr.
as Night Class Student
John French
as Office Worker
View All

News & Interviews for The Art of Self-Defense

Critic Reviews for The Art of Self-Defense

All Critics (160) | Top Critics (26)

Bold but inconsistent, outrageous but not all that shocking, The Art of Self Defense never reaches its full potential, but lands more than enough punches to warrant our attention.

July 19, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It's tempting to imagine that writer-director Riley Stearns caught a screening of the supremely feel-good The Karate Kid and thought, "Yeah, I can make the opposite of that."

July 19, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

If offbeat is the goal, Stearns earns his black belt.

July 19, 2019 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Stearns' satire is mostly of the blunt-force variety.

July 19, 2019 | Full Review…

The film's calm brutality is effective. Plot-wise, some punches are telegraphed, while others are not. The satire is a spinning wheel kick I didn't see coming. Black belts all around.

July 18, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Mannered and remote, the movie throws a lot of punches but hardly ever connects.

July 18, 2019 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews

There are no featured reviews for The Art of Self-Defense at this time.

The Art of Self-Defense Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features