The Art of Self-Defense Reviews

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July 19, 2019
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
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
If offbeat is the goal, Stearns earns his black belt.
July 19, 2019
Stearns' satire is mostly of the blunt-force variety.
July 18, 2019
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
Mannered and remote, the movie throws a lot of punches but hardly ever connects.
July 18, 2019
Jesse Eisenberg steps into the dojo and gets in a few good licks at toxic masculinity before odious comparisons to Fight Club blunt the film's comic and dramatic impact.
July 18, 2019
Writer-director Riley Stearns is a dark-comedy talent to watch.
July 18, 2019
"The Art of Self-Defense" turns into an often brutal takedown of both toxic masculinity and the willingness of humans of both genders to give up their individuality in service of some greater authority in which they find identity and fellowship.
July 17, 2019
Stearns says some people have compared the film to a comic "Fight Club," but it feels like something that is wholly original ⁠- and compelling.
July 16, 2019
[A]t times, the movie struggles to maintain the critical balance between detachment from and engagement with the thing it's making fun of.
Top Critic
July 16, 2019
I'm afraid none of this makes much valid sense. The movie fails to offer a cogent point of view.
July 12, 2019
The Art of Self-Defense could have a lot to say about modern loneliness and toxic masculinity, ideas that writer-director Riley Stearn largely decides to deliver as bone-dry, blunt-force satire.
July 12, 2019
It definitely sweeps the leg in its own way.
July 12, 2019
Like any good martial artist, [Eisenberg] knows just how to keep you off-balance.
July 12, 2019
The film as a whole feels audacious and original, a case study of violence begetting more of the same, and Mr. Eisenberg is ideally cast as the soul of fearfulness.
July 11, 2019
"The Art of Self-Defense" is like the kid who withdrew from the introductory gender studies class before the midterm to pursue his own theories. And good luck with that.
July 11, 2019
A bold and unsettling comedy masterstroke, as excitingly unexpected as it is uncomfortably familiar.
July 11, 2019
Nivola seduces the audience, as well as the characters.
July 10, 2019
It's amusing, and occasionally funny, but the gags and the identical monotone in which every line is delivered grates.
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