'The Art Of Self-Defense' Trailer: A Terrified Jesse Eisenberg Learns Karate

Jesse Eisenberg is afraid of...well...everything in The Art of Self-Defense. Eisenberg plays a nervous nebbish who decides to sign up for a karate class in order to get over his many, many fears. But as this brief but memorable trailer shows, there's more going on here than meets the eye. Watch The Art of Self-Defense trailer below.

The Art of Self-Defense Trailer

The Art of Self-Defense just played at SXSW, where our own Jacob Hall caught it, and came away impressed.

Jacob also wrote:

What if Fight Club was remade by the Coen brothers? Perhaps it's unfair and reductive to compare Riley Stearns' incredible new dark comedy to well-known work and acclaimed filmmakers, but with a tone this unique and a sense of humor this specific, I grasp at straws to relay just how special (and just how twisted) this film truly is. This may be a movie about a man who starts taking karate lessons after he's mugged in the streets outside his home, but it's certainly not a tale of finding oneself and becoming the better person you always dreamed of. Oh, no. Stearns uses that set-up to explore how impressionable men are seduced into toxic communities, how good people are transformed into monsters because they need to feel powerful and respected. It's the dry, pitch-black comedy 2019 deserves.

The Art of Self-Defense comes from director Riley Stearns, who helmed the memorable, under-the-radar film Faults. This looks like a much different movie, and I'm curious to see where the story goes. Eisenberg plays Casey Davies, who signs up for a karate class after being mugged, "falling more and more in his paranoia in the process." In addition to Eisenberg, the film also stars Alessandro Nivola and Imogen Poots.

I like what I'm seeing here – the trailer hints at something both funny and mysterious, and the footage doesn't tip its hand and give anything away. This is exactly how trailers should be cut – enough info to draw you in without giving up the game. Take note, trailer editors.

The Art of Self-Defense opens June 21, 2019.

A dark comedy set in the world of karate. The film centers on Casey (Jesse Eisenberg), who is attacked at random on the street and enlists in a local dojo led by a charismatic and mysterious Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), in an effort to learn how to defend himself. What he uncovers is a sinister world of fraternity, violence and hypermasculinity and a woman (Imogen Poots) fighting for her place in it. Casey undertakes a journey, both frightening and darkly funny, that will place him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor.