The Art of Self-Defense is a 2019 dark comedy martial arts film directed by Riley Stearns.

Official trailers

Bleecker Street on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 released the trailer:
THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE | Official Trailer.

Story intro

Casey Davies is a mild-mannered, socially awkward accountant who does not seem to fit in with his work environment. While getting food for his pet dachshund late one evening, Casey is confronted by a motorcycle gang, who ask if he owns a gun before brutally attacking him. While given time off from work to recuperate, he grows insecure and strongly considers purchasing a firearm for protection. But when he comes across a karate dōjō, presided by "Sensei", Casey takes advantage of a free trial class, opting to take further day classes rather than purchase a firearm. Casey meets Anna, a brown belt (and the only female student of the dōjō) who teaches the children's classes, and befriends Henry, a blue belt student. With time, Casey begins to perform well enough to catch the attention of his classmates and Sensei. He earns a promotion to a yellow belt, but both Anna and Henry are snubbed for their next ranks. Sensei invites Casey to the dōjō's night classes, which are more extreme and brutal than the regular classes. Henry joins the class uninvited, but when he is called upon to help demonstrate, Sensei breaks his elbow at the joint and expels him from the dōjō. During a sparring session, Anna brutally beats Thomas, the newly promoted black belt student, aiming to prove her skill to Sensei despite her gender, which Sensei claims disqualifies her from earning a black belt. Casey is encouraged by Sensei to listen to heavy metal music (rather than his preferred "adult contemporary") to become more masculine. After a two month absence from his accounting job, Casey returns as a more assertive employee. His alpha male attitude leads to him impressing his cocky co-workers and throat-punching his boss and he gets terminated, but is then offered a temporary position by Sensei to be the dōjō's accountant. Casey reveals to Sensei that he is taking the classes in response to the traumatic experience of being attacked by the motorcycle gang. Days later, Sensei calls Casey telling him that he has spotted one of the gang members at a bar, encouraging him to attack the drunken suspect. Casey gravely injures him, but is surprised to find Sensei recording the confrontation, realizing that the suspect was innocent.


Jesse Eisenberg
Alessandro Nivola
Imogen Poots
Steve Terada
David Zellner
Phillip Andre Botello
Caroline Amiguet
French Audio Instructor (voice)
Apollo Bacala
Karate Day Class Student
Hauke Bahr
Jason Burkey
Justin Eaton
Lone Man
Dallas Edwards
Will Ellis Jr.
Night Class Student
Josh Fadem
Serial Killer
John French
Office Worker
Darren Gaebel
Karate Night Class Student
Scott Goodman
Drunk Skinny Guy
Alex Haydon
Man Wearing Pants
Elizabeth Howlett
Girl in Hospital Room
Nicholas Hulstine
Pickup Truck Driver
Davey Johnson
Gun Store Owner
Chris Lay
Karate Student
Katherine Martin
Bakery Woman
Cameron Murphy
New White Belt
Leland Orser
Detective McCallister
Kinsley Ramey
Martial Arts Student
C.J. Rush
Other Steve
Gina Fountain Schneider
Mom in Car
Matthew T. Schneider
Son in Car
Molly E. Schneider
Daughter in Car (as Molly E Schneider)
Sarah Beth Shapiro
Answering Machine
Daniel H. Shoemaker
Karate Class Day Student
Katherine Smith-Rodden
Grocery Store Cashier
Frederic Spitz
French Guy
Louis Robert Thompson


Principal photography began on September 11, 2017, in Kentucky.

The film The Art of Self-Defense was scheduled to be released on March 10, 2019 (SXSW) and on July 12, 2019 (United States) by Bleecker Street Media, Pacific Northwest Pictures and Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The duration of the film is 104 minutes. The film grossed over $2.4 million.

The film had received a "R" rating.


The Art of Self-Defense got high rating from critics.

External links

IMDB: The Art of Self-Defense

Wikipedia: The Art of Self-Defense (2019 film)

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