(On Cable TV, October 2013) How can you not like this premise? In the depth of the cold-war 1950s, here is a trio of deadly… burlesque assassins! It’s a charming hook, and the film certainly doesn’t forget how silly it’s supposed to be, as three lovely operatives take on Mussolini Jr., Hitler’s clone and what looks like Joe Stalin. Still, viewers should realize that Burlesque Assassins is a low-budget Canadian film with more interest in showcasing burlesque than in being a polished comic thriller, and so adjust their expectations accordingly. From the title and plot summary, it’s easy to imagine writer/director Jonathan Joffe’s Burlesque Assassins to be something it’s not. The ultra-low-budget film is tailored to fit its single-minded burlesque boosterism and it often shows: Much of the film’s action, absent two prologues and three flashbacks, takes place in a single cabaret on a single night, the dialogue is often ham-fisted, the film’s plot is slowed down by burlesque numbers and the conclusion makes a mess out of whatever motivation the characters had. There’s also quite a bit too much gore for the film’s tone. Still, Burlesque Assassins has something that many more polished films don’t: charm. The acting is more endearing than convincing, but it doesn’t matter given how likable the entire film becomes. Armitage Shanks is constantly hilarious as the gruff-but-sensitive Johnny Valentine (it takes a strong man to do drag this badly), while Roxi D’Lite is pitch-perfectly doe-eyed as the new recruit in this trio of assassins. Of the standalone burlesque numbers, Scarlett Martini has the most interesting performance –the rest sort of blurs together despite the big numbers and small patsies. Still –and I can’t underscore this point enough– Burlesque Assassins makes up in likability what it doesn’t have in scope, pacing or polish: It’s the kind of let’s-get-the-gang-together small-budget filmmaking that’s hard to dislike or even dismiss.