Justin Turner’s review published on Letterboxd:
PSA: DO NOT watch the trailer for this film as it spoils a lot of major plot points.
I went into The Art of Self-Defense blind outside of the fact that Jesse Eisenberg was in it and it was a comedy about karate.
Make no mistake. This film is dark and twisted, while also containing comedic elements sprinkled throughout the film. It is better knowing very little going into it because you will be surprised by the events that take place, especially during the second half of the film. It starts a bit slow, but once the main plot kicks in with the karate and dojo, you are in for a treat.
Jesse Eisenberg is really good in the lead role, but the one performance that took me by huge surprise was Alessandro Nivola as the Sensei. I am not sure if he will get nominated for anything, but he would be my pick so far this year for Best Supporting Actor.
It also addresses themes of masculinity and violence within the overall narrative.