8/10 Every once in a while, a quirky, independent film comes along that doesn’t stir up that much attention or light up the box office but is absolutely deserving of acclaim. The trailer for this film was rather strange but very intriguing and with a small but solid cast, I wanted to check it out. I really enjoyed this film more than I thought I would and although it isn’t perfect, it is an original story about masculinity that doesn’t feel preachy or over the top. As I mentioned with the cast, the trio of Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots and Alessandro Nivola are all fantastic, with Nivola being the standout as the dojo’s Sensei. This is a dark comedy with some very deadpan humor and although it isn’t laugh out loud hilarious, there definitely are laughs to be had, especially the further we get into the film. Having Eisenberg’s character quickly transition from shy, unconfident and antisocial to alpha, aggressive and a jerk after listening to heavy metal and getting a pep talk was quite hilarious to witness, even if it was rather unrealistic. I loved how you really have no idea what direction the film is going to go, which makes it unpredictable and fun. The film has a slow burn that eventually escalates to a very satisfying ending. The premise is simple but expands to some very interesting places as the film progresses. There are flashes of “Fight Club” in this film, but not in a way that rips that film off, which was enjoyable. The pacing of the film was fantastic, there were some minor plot twists that kept things exciting and were unexpected and some very memorable scenes with amusing lines. The biggest negative I can say that this film has is that you really do have to suspend your disbelief in terms of how unrealistic events of this film are. Characters assault their boss, look up pornography at work, brutally assault each other, commit crimes, etc. all without a hint of consequence or repercussion. No one is arrested or has to own up to the majority of their criminal mistakes. Since this is a comedy you won’t really mind while you watch the film but it is still worth mentioning that this film goes to those unrealistic places. Despite the unrealistic approach, the fantastic cast, unexpected escalation, memorable characters, tight direction, well-constructed script and memorable enjoyment make this an independent film worth seeking out as soon as you can. This film is a much needed kick of originality to today’s Hollywood machine.
#ASparIsBorn / #EnterTheFootFistWay / #SenseiSociety / #MellowBelt / #GreenBeltRoom / #TheKarateSkid