Burlesque Assassins

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“A strip off the old block.”

It’s the mid-1950’s, and Bourbon Sue (D’Lite) is recruited to join the titular group (hehehe… He said, “titular”…), under leader Johnny Valentine (Shanks), and immediately thrown into the heart of a vital mission. There are three codes needed to operate a Nazi death ray, which has been dormant since the end of WW2 a decade previously. But the son of Mussolini, a clone of Hitler and the not-as-dead-as-reported Stalin are convening with the codes in a burlesque club, and it’s up to Sue and the other girls to ensure the weapon is not activated. “Seduce and destroy,” as their slogan goes, and the fate of civilization hangs in the balance – though there’s clearly no rush to save the world, with plenty of time to take in a number of performances at the club.burlesque

I’m kinda ambivalent about burlesque. The basic concept – attractive women undressing – is one I can get behind (hehehe… “behind”…), but having attended a number of shows, while entertained, I found maybe 5% of the acts at all erotic. It feels more to me like a modern dance recital, with limited clothing. And this one’s appeal is probably directly connected to your interest in burlesque; I think my wife probably enjoyed this more than I did. It’s not obviously low-budget, but its limitations are obvious: virtually the entire last two-thirds of the film takes place in the club, alternating between the stage and the dressing room, as Sue and her colleagues try to pry the codes from the axis of evil. It’s pretty limited and quite repetitive in terms of story, despite the makers’ efforts to jazz things up with flashbacks and other cut scenes. I’m not sure burlesque with a plot is something the world really needed, to begin with.

But that said, the actors are clearly having a lot of fun, not least Shanks, who spends much of the film in a wig and dress, though the beard and cigar are a bit of a giveaway – naturally, he’s the one for whom the Hitler clone falls. You get the sense a lot of the other cast members don’t have much cinematic experience, but they get by, largely through putting over their larger-than-life character with stage presence. The action here is definitely played for laughs more than anything; indeed, the whole escapade is tongue in cheek, which renders it somewhat criticism-proof. However, this also caps the impact at a fairly low level, since there can be little or no emotional connection with such a trifle. This can truly be recommended, only if you’re a devotee of old-school ecdysiast arts.

Dir: Jonathan Joffe
Star: Roxi D’Lite, Armitage Shanks, Carrie Schiffler, Dusan Rokvic

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