“I’m afraid of other men. They intimidate me. I want to be what intimidates me,” Jesse Eisenberg’s Casey says when asked about why he decides to sign up for karate classes. The line is from the newly released first look at Bleecker Street’s The Art of Self-Defense, a dark comedy written and directed by Riley Stearns. Starring Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola and Imogen Poots, the pic premieres Sunday at SXSW in Austin.
It follows timid bookkeeper Casey who, after he’s attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang, joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself. Under the watchful eye of a charismatic instructor, Sensei (Nivola), and hardcore brown belt Anna (Poots), Casey gains a newfound sense of confidence for the first time in his life. But when he attends Sensei’s mysterious night classes, he discovers a sinister world of fraternity, brutality and hyper-masculinity, presenting a journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor.
Producers are Andrew Kortschak, Cody Ryder, Stephanie Whonsetler and Walter Kortschak. Check out the teaser above.