Friday, November 02, 2012


Writer/director Jonathan Joffe’s Burlesque Assassins offers blood, bullets, babes and tan-lined Hitler clones. What more could one ever ask from a motion picture?

Quite a bit, unfortunately. How about a quick-witted, engaging story to accompany the non-stop T&A-fuelled hijinx? Or sharp comedic dialogue that doesn’t elicit weary groans? (“You just knocked out Randy!” “What can I say, I’m a real knockout!”)

Alas, the Calgary-made Burlesque Assassins doesn’t so much “Seduce and Destroy” as underwhelm and frustrate.

Starring raven-haired stunner Roxi D’Lite as a 1950s tough gal recruited into a top secret burlesque unit, the film chronicles a covert mission to infiltrate an Alberta cabaret and recover Nazi Atomic Death Ray codes from Stalin (Dusan Rokvic), Mussolini Jr. (Matthew Graham) and Hitler 2.0 (Brendan Hunter).

Attractive back-up is offered by experienced operatives Bombshell Belle (Kiki Kaboom), Katerina Molotov (Carrie Schiffler), and Koko La Douce, portrayed by, naturally, Koko La Douce herself. Playing Charlie to the pasty-sporting fighting force is Johnny Valentine (Armitage Shanks – who was born to star in a flick like this), a cigar-chomping, gravel-voiced ladies man with questionable taste in disguises.

Joffe has an undeniably fun germ of an idea here (a boobier cartoon riff on Inglourious Basterds), but the results tend to be more tedious than titillating; a somewhat exhausting series of creatively-staged, yet energy-deprived burlesque routines and unsuccessful stabs at feverish broad camp.

That said, the film is not without its charms. Betty Boop-esque star D’Lite is a bubbly, ravishing presence, and the film’s intentionally terrible accents (Graham is Italian by way of Chico Marx) and black and white newsreel gags offer welcome amusement.

Ultimately, though, this is a stagebound one-joke sketch concept that, stretched to 90 minutes, strains and unravels like a moth-eaten corset.

1.5 out of 5

*Originally printed in BeatRoute Magazine.

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