Art of Self Defense Trailer: Jesse Eisenberg Stars in Karate Comedy

Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Art of Self Defense, playing a timid man who takes a dark path while toughening himself up with karate lessons.

Jesse Eisenberg in The Art of Self Defense; Bleecker Street Media

The Art of Self Defense, an indie comedy film that screened at SXSW this past March, heads to a wide release, tapping into a thematic and topical corner that’s been successfully covered on the small screen with YouTube Premium’s Cobra Kai, showcasing a situation in which the martial art of karate leads bullied people down a destructive primrose path.

The film stars Jesse Eisenberg, who plays a run-of-the-mill milquetoast, who – after finally being sick of getting shoved around and remaining afraid – decides to sign up for a karate class, run by an eccentric sensei (Alessando Nivola), whose hardline philosophy resides squarely in the toxic masculinity discussion. Indeed, the initially-quixotic karate quest of Eisenberg’s Casey appears destined for a dark turn.

Art of Self Defense Trailer

The full trailer for The Art of Self Defense has arrived, promoting its impending wide release.

Below is the SWSW teaser trailer.

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As the official synopsis for The Art of Self Defense reads:

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.

Art of Self Defense Release Date

The Art of Self Defense will arrive on July 12.

Art of Self Defense Details

Riley Stearns serves as director for The Art of Self Defense, in what is his second feature, coming off 2014 crime comedy Faults. He works here off his own screenplay.

Jesse Eisenberg headlines here, coming off recent thriller film The Hummingbird Project. With appearances in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, he’s still, technically, Warner’s DC Extended Universe portrayer of supervillain Lex Luthor (with Jon Cryer fielding the role on TV’s Supergirl), though the future of Eisenberg’s tenure remains up in the air. He is, however, set to reprise one of his earliest film successes, returning with the original cast for the decade-in-the-making horror-comedy sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, which hits this October.

The rest of the main cast consist of Alessandro Nivola (Chimerica), Imogen Poots (Green Room), Philip Andre Botello (Pledge) and Steve Terada (Future Man).

The Art of Self Defense is a production of End Cue, distributed globally by Bleecker Street Media.

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Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.