The Art of Self-Defense Image

The Art of Self-Defense

By Bobby LePire | March 25, 2019

All that makes the movie sound as if it is a gritty drama; though nothing could be further from the truth. The film may deal with serious issues, but it is an outright comedy through and through. After attaining his yellow belt and buying whole-hog the charm of Sensei, Casey special orders belts to match each color belt. There’s white, yellow, cyan, magenta, brown, and black. Yes, Casey got all the colors, including the ones that are readily available at any store that sells clothes. He gifts these belts to all the students at the dojo and Sensei. They all wear them in their lives outside the dojo with pride. It is as hilarious as it sounds.

“In movie-making terms, it generally means that a particular movie could have only come from that director’s mind.”

The dialogue is heightened in a verbose, yet amusing way. Everyone speaks in a matter of fact way, even Sensei when he’s espousing how “karate is a language.” At a certain point, Anna tells her classmates that women are more sensitive to higher pitches of sound than men with all the enthusiasm of reading the ingredients on a cereal box. This tonal commitment not only allows the audience to understand a character’s motivation as soon as they are introduced, but it also serves as a merging of the dry wit of the lines and the immaculate set design. Every night when Casey returns home, he hits play on his landline answering machine, and it intones that he has no messages and that no one loves him.

As The Art Of Self Defense goes on, and the more propaganda from Sensei Casey buys into, he acts out in ways that are unusual for him. Casey’s boss comes by his desk to see how he’s doing, and Casey punches him in the throat. That Eisenberg makes both facets of his character believable and empathetic proves how often his understated approach can be taken for granted. Alessandro Nivola plays sensei, and he owns every ridiculous moment. From the stoic way, he delivers his lines to small gestures such as bowing to a picture of the dojo’s deceased, everything he does is hysterical.

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  1. Van Roberts says:

    Fantastic review of a provocative film with terrific performances. I was captivated by the trailer and had to see it. Has a “Fight Club” vibe.

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