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black comedy / USA / 2019 / 1h 40 min

# horribly funny / drama / self-defense / mystery / toxic masculinity


The first principle of the art of self-defence: forget everything you know about self-defence


Casey is a quiet, calm and rather hesitant accountant – he lacks basic social skills and is scared of people. The situation gets worse one evening when he is attacked and severely beaten by a group of motorcyclists. No longer able to stand the fear of the whole world around him, he decides to find a way to keep himself safe. He accidentally ends up in a local dojo where he meets a charismatic master. The man invites him to his lessons and notices the potential that is hidden in him. Thanks to training, advice and tips, Casey’s approach to life changes completely. He becomes confident, determined and strives to meet his own needs. Meanwhile, he realizes that his sensei is more disturbing than he might initially have thought. The boy discovers the dark secrets of the local karate underground. However, he is a different man than he used to be and therefore decides to do something about it.

“The Art of Self-Defense” is a combination of “Karate Kid” and “Fight Club” based on an absurd atmosphere and a large dose of black humor. In his second film, Riley Stearns talks about people getting out of their shell, changing their own lives and gaining courage. By the way, he shoots in the viewer’s face and kicks them in the crotch, laughing at the cult of strength and toxic masculinity, the film features brutal castings, a mounting tension, a surprising twist in the action and a heavy soundtrack at which even last year’s “Lords of Chaos” softened up. However, you don’t have to be afraid of the film, because all the right punches are alleviated by a massage administered by the great acting – brutal Poots, charmingly clumsy Eisenberg and crazy Nivioli.

WORLD PREMIERE: SXSW South by Southwest 2019

Age restrictions: 15+


LUBLIN: 10.12 (Tuesday) / 20.00 / Centre of Culture / BUY TICKET

WARSAW: 6.12 (Friday) / 20.15 / Kinoteka room 1 / BUY TICKET


director: Riley Stearns
writer: Riley Stearns
director of photography: Michael Ragen
editor: Sarah Beth ShapiroCast: Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots
music: Heather McIntosh
language: English
subtitles: Polish