“Men like us can’t make it in a 9-to-5 world.” That colossal understatement is a reference to Brute Corps, a bunch of, well…”brutish” drunken mercenaries causing havoc in the Mexican desert, abusing staff at the local cantina while the sweating, ineffectual Latino stereotype of a police chief turns a blind eye.
The soldiers-of-misfortune are under the command of The Colonel, who takes a casual indifference to the unit’s various transgressions, which includes the above, as well as urinating out the back of moving vehicles.
They all camp out on the outskirts of town, engaging in macho feats of strength bravado while they await instructions to venture down to Central America and take part in some coup (some nebulous mission that isn’t really adequately addressed).
Draft dodger Kevin and his blonde paramour Terry, whom he’s recently met and instantly become better acquainted with if you catch our drift, are hitchhiking through the same territory. Their paths cross with the soldiers, and to their peril, the couple accepts an offer of dinner with the rowdy troops.
Everything’s convivial at first, with play fighting, jocularity and judo demonstrations. That is until alpha second-in-command Wicks takes charge. Wicks is the same guy who’s pushed the limits of propriety with his drunken cantina antics, threatening to assault the waitress, the bar owner’s daughter.
Mid-martial arts demo, he gropes young Terry in front of the assembled. When her beau Kevin intercedes, he’s beaten down, threatened and forced to flee into the brush. It should be mentioned that Wicks is played by Alex Rocco (pictured below), the man who got it through the peeper in The Godfather as Moe Greene.
The troops organize a two-person search party to go find Kevin, including taciturn Ross, a reluctant mercenary played by Paul Carr, who seemingly appeared in every TV show ever produced in the 1970s.
Ross spies the man cowering in the bushes but fails to turn him in, finally indulging his moral conscience.
Meanwhile, back in camp, the warriors and co-conspirator colonel are laying out the ground rules of a round-robin combat tournament to see who gets to ravage Terry.
Because we’re in grindhouse revenge world, eventually hippie Kevin mans up and goes in to rescue his girlfriend, assisted by Ross.
Brute Corps is a flawed yet interesting vetsploitation, making great use of its desert setting and genre stalwarts like Roy Jensen (Soylent Green) and Felton Perry (Robocop and Magnum Force).
*** (out of 5)