It’s the “Karate Kid” meets “Fight Club” in the “Art of Self Defense”, fun comedy about a wimpy accountant who slips into the shady underworld of small town karate.
Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, The Social Network) stars as Casey Davies, a number cruncher who doesn’t fit in at work and lives a quiet life at home with his dachsund. After getting tired of being beaten down in about every way imaginable, he joins a karate dojo, where he meets the mysterious Sensei (that’s his name), played by Alessandro Nivola and soon realizes that his karate membership is much more than he bargained for.
The small cast, which also features Imogen Poots, as an Instructor/Student, is just terrific and delivers their offbeat dialog with the conviction of a much more serious film hand to hand involving combat.
Director Riley Stearns builds a world that is undefined in what state it’s in or what year it takes place and that works wonderfully in the dynamic of the film. It looks terrific.
If there are some drawbacks to the movie, it would be that the humor might not be for everyone. If the marketing doesn’t appeal to you, it’s likely the film won’t either. Also, in a stroke positive criticism, we want more karate with Sensei, an entire class would probably be pretty entertaining.
In the end “The Art of Self Defense” delivers some strong comedy roundhouses.
Running Time: 1hr 44 minutes