BRUTE CORPS is one of those 70’s exploitation gems with a tight linear plot and small cast of good character actors who are easier to recognize than they are to place by name or role. The soundtrack would seem more apropos in LOVE STORY. On top of that the timing of the soundtrack is equally bizarre…
The Colonel has his elite unit of mercenaries on maneuvers in Mexico awaiting their deployment to South America. His second in command is Ross a capable soldier who is having some moral dissonance concerning his chosen career. He alone with the Colonel are the only people able to keep the Bastards in line. The soldiers include the alpha maniac, Wicks, portrayed by Alex Rocco on one extreme and Quinnn, Roy Jenson who is the older professional veteran who is a stone cold expert who takes no shit and exudes a calculating confidence. Ballard, Hill and MacFarlane (Michael Pataki) round out the crew.
A draft dodger named Kevin is hauling ass to Mexico and hooks up with a beautiful free-spirited hitchhiker named Terry and they make their way into the wilds exploring the peyote country. They are greeted by a friendly and gracious Wicks as places a sign marking the perimeter of the bivouac. He offers to take them back to camp and feed them and give them shelter overnight. The cyclothemic nature of Rocco’s performance is a joy to watch. It leaves the viewer to question if Wicks’ wavering between extreme moods is purposefully malevolent or part of a mental illness. Either case is disturbing though for vastly different reasons.
What follows is an even more debased and less fair version of the Most Dangerous Game. Instead of allowing the wayfarers to leave Wicks decides he wants the Terry for himself. The rest of the crew quickly balk at the unfairness of the arrangement and the Colonel decides to allow them to battle each other for her. No weapons are allowed and each encounter of the round robin like tournament–what?–ends when one of the combatants yields. Everyone is all in except for the Colonel who won’t bother with such frivolity and Quinnn who states he is “too old to fight for pussy.” Surprisingly, Ross steps up and it is quickly learned he is fighting as the Terry’s champion unbeknownst to the rest of the rabble.
Inevitably the showdown is between Ross and Wicks and the Terry becomes Wicks’ rape doll. Eventually the exiled Kevin reenters the bivouac after he finds local law enforcement unwilling to intervene. Spurred by this, Ross takes up arms against the rest of his unit and assists the two travelers in their escape. The cat and mouse game ensues leading to a Mexican stand-off that couldn’t have been more telegraphed. Like several movies of the era the end sees the horribly exploited girl weeping and victorious. This is definitely a film that could not be made today due to the graphic and extreme nature of the story yet with a few careful edits this could run as a Saturday matinee and still maintain a cohesive story.
BRUTE CORPS was a Code Red release that you may still be able to run down if you get in touch with Bill. As an anecdote from Bill Olsen, Sage Stallone was upset when Code Red scooped his Grindhouse Releasing for the rights to BRUTE CORPS. The only thing that had upset Sage more? It only sold 650 copies!
This disc is loaded with features. Commentaries, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and the eagerly anticipated (by this viewer at least!) Code Red trailers. FAMILY HONOR anyone?! Yes, please.