Sweet Karma 

Add Shera Bechard to that list, based upon "Sweet Karma," her one and only feature film appearance, according to IMDb. (As engaging as I'm sure it is, "World's Sexiest Nude Women" doesn't count.)

That said, Bechard's character is mute, so it's not like she had to wrestle with dialogue or accents. For all we know, her voice could have the pitch of a helium balloon. Still, as a quiet, beautiful ass-kicker bent on revenge, she is convincing.

Bechard plays the Karma of the title, who learns her sister, Anna (Patricia Stasiak, "The Last Kiss"), has been found dead in Canada. We learn that Anna is one of many young, attractive Russian women lured to North America with promises of a better life via housekeeping jobs, but really are forced into the sex industry, often coerced with a snort of coke.

Ever the loyal sibling, Karma goes undercover as a new applicant, stabs the recruiter in the neck with a nail file, catches the flight to the Great White North, and prepares to take great bloody vengeance. To do this, naturally, she has to scope out the strip clubs and even pose as one herself.

If that sounds like a sleazy slice of exploitation, yeah, it is. But for once, all the eye candy is in service to the story. In the "Death Wish" movies, Charles Bronson never had to dance around in a bra and panties (or did he? I haven't seen part 5) to get close to the bad guys he'd dispatch, but Bronson ain't purty. Given the treatment the women go through at the hands (among other things) of the men, you can't wait to see Karma dish out a whole heap of bad karma. One could argue that, like the notorious "I Spit on Your Grave," the film is ultimately empowering.

I believe it; I was rooting for her every step of the way, even when the proceedings hit a second-half lag with the introduction of a shaggy-haired detective (John Tokatlidis) who's been working the case for a year. She was doing just fine by herself, bub.

In his directorial debut, Andrew Thomas Hunt keeps the plot moving nimbly, not overstaying his welcome. One wishes he had a bit more cash so the picture would look sharper and not so dingy, but that's the only line item I'd change.

Finally, guys, sorry, but the cover image of Bechard in lingerie and holding a gun does not appear in the film. There's no gun. Something tells me you'll get over it. —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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