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Overall Rating
4.27

Awesome: 27.27%
Worth A Look72.73%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 5 user ratings


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Sweet Karma
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by Jay Seaver

"They'll get what's coming to them."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Sweet Karma" is an "avenging angel" movie with all the fat boiled off. The filmmakers know why people are seeing this movie - a hot girl killing bad men in a cool, righteous fury. And even though it's doing better than just going through the motions, it is still keenly focused on giving the audience what it wants, without other distractions - like dialog from the title character, for instance.

Karma (Shera Bechard) was born mute, you see, though anyone looking at her will readily admit that there's nothing else wrong with her physically. Her sister Anna (Patricia Stasiak) went to Canada to take a job as a housemaid, but we know how that sort of endeavor really plays out: Strip clubs and prostitution if she's lucky, a mutilated body in a ditch when she's not. So Karma heads to Toronto in her sister's footsteps, intent on following the chain from the people who recruited Anna in Moscow to the man by whose hand she actually died until they're all dead.

Sweet Karma is a nasty little movie, plunging into its seedy underworld setting without giving it even a surface sheet of respectability. I wouldn't say that this movie rises above the exploitation inherent in its genre, but director Andrew Hunt is keenly aware of it and uses it like a precision tool, manipulating matters so that we feel grimy and unclean in a low-rent strip club and yet still powerfully drawn to Karma, even when she's pointedly using her sexuality as a weapon, in ways that are not that far removed from her targets' practices.

Ms. Bechard, by the way, could be something if she sticks with acting. She is ridiculously attractive, of course, a model who sticks out in a room full of barely-dressed women, but she also does a great job of being expressive and communicating in a wordless role. The scene of Karma's first kill is particularly notable, as she conveys both that this is a rather uglier business than she had prepared herself for and that she can go on without hysterics. If she can deliver a line as well as a look, she might be worth looking out for.

Everyone else is there for support, and do their jobs admirably, for the most part. The reaction of the gangsters is especially fun to watch, as Hunt mostly keeps them in the dark about Karma, and their reactions to their associates dying or disappearing run the gamut from cocky to completely freaked out. It's a credit that they're still interesting despite consistently being a step or two behind Karma and the audience. These aren't particularly complex characters, but most are distinct.

There is a little trouble in that the henchmen below a certain level are interchangeable enough that when one is revealed to be more than he had initially appeared, it can be a little difficult to recall in later scenes whether the guy we're seeing is that one or a garden-variety goon. It's not a really big deal - the late-film plot twists add just enough complexity to the story that the audience won't feel that they (and the filmmakers) went through the entire movie on cruise control without veering very far from delivering the goods without a great deal of fuss.

And there is no shame in that; many independent filmmakers overextend themselves and don't hit their target nearly as squarely as "Sweet Karma" does. The avenging angel is a familiar sort of movie, and while "Sweet Karma" doesn't break new ground, but it does tread the ground its chosen very well, which is a lot more than even some films with more modest ambitions manage.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19344&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/31/09 19:08:54
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2009 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2009 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2009 series, click here.

User Comments

10/07/09 ShickShiner fun little film, with the hottest striptease scene ever! 4 stars
9/29/09 A. Bartlett best I've seen in a long time, 5 stars
8/03/09 philippe great entertaining indie film. if only they could all be this good. 4 stars
7/18/09 R. Brisson from start to finish this movie kept me on edge with just the right amount of action 5 stars
7/14/09 Chris This film is an absolute must see! Awesome! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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Directed by
  Andrew Thomas Hunt

Written by
  Andrew Thomas Hunt
  James Fler
  Michael Paszt

Cast
  Shera Bechard



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