A military satire in the tradition of M*A*S*H and Catch-22, based on Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa's 1973 book. Sex-starved soldiers stationed at remote jungle posts pose an ongoing problem for the military until General Collazos (Gianfranco Brero) hits on an idea. Why not establish an orderly, well-supervised program to send hookers where their services are most needed? Local women would be safe, soldiers would be satisfied, officers wouldn't be wasting time policing sex offenders. The program would have to be top secret, of course, and administered by someone of the utmost probity. And that's where Captain Pantaleon Pantoja (Salvador del Solar) comes in: Always first in his class, obedient, orderly, punctual, happily married, hard working and a straight arrow all the way he doesn't even drink or smoke. And so the unwitting Pantaleon is handed a secret mission whose nature he doesn't learn until he and his wife, Ponchita (Monica Sanchez), have already moved from Lima to an isolated outpost. There he learns he's charged with establishing and running a "Visitors' Service for Garrisons, Border Posts and Related Quarters," and that he's going to be ostracized for doing it. Pantaleon can't wear his uniform, work out of base offices or appear at official military functions; he and Ponchita aren't even allowed to live in the officers' barracks, which he explains to his puzzled wife by claiming he's on an undercover intelligence project. Pantaleon undertakes his humiliation with his usual efficiency, enlisting the aid of retiring brothel keeper Chuchupe (Pilar Bardem), investigating the legendary aphrodisiac properties of local foods, acquiring a boat with which to navigate the Amazon and hiring hookers. A military functionary to his very soul, Pantaleon files detailed weekly reports couched in the dreariest possible terms. The service succeeds beyond his superiors' wildest dreams under Pantaleon's stewardship, it's efficient, discrete and profitable. But as the service expands so do the problems, especially after Pantaleon hires legendary local harlot "la Columbiana" (Angie Cepeda), who sets her practiced sights on the boss. Most of the film's dark comedy is rooted in the absurdity of juxtaposing military bureaucracy and the world's oldest profession; the rest derives from the inevitable snafus that doom both the Visitors' Service and the hapless Pantaleon. Del Solar's performance as the quintessential company man gives the film an unexpected poignancy: Neither a rebel nor a conscienceless drone, he's a man who knows his limitations and tries to do his best within them.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: A military satire in the tradition of M*A*S*H and Catch-22, based on Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa's 1973 book. Sex-starved soldiers stationed at remote jungle posts pose an ongoing problem for the military until General Collazos (Gianfranco Brero)… (more)