The rape rate is up in Peru and the main culprits happen to be soldiers. What to do? Captain Pantaležn Pantoja (Salvador del Solar), an exemplary enlisted married man, is commissioned to form the Visitors Service, a legal prostitution ring, to placate those horny militaristas in distant Amazon jungle posts. The obsessively efficient Pantaležn carries out this secret mission with resounding success. However, his life is made complicated by one of the whores, La Colombiana (Angie Cepeda), with whom he falls in love, and El Sinchi (Aristžteles Picho), an influential, corrupt radio journalist, who blackmails him when he discovers both his mission and secret romance.

Based on a Mario Vargas Llosa novel, Pantaležn y las visitadoras plays like one of those rambunctious Italian sex comedies of the '60s, but the laughs are rare. The Amazon provides the lushest of backgrounds and Teo Delgado's cinematography captures the beauty of both setting and inhabitants. However, Francisco J. Lombardi's direction is perfunctory and lacking in the telling, characterful touches that could make this teasingly prurient stuff sing. (It's not half as much sexy fun as it could be.) Del Solar is handsome in the extreme and an adequate actor, and Cepeda is punishingly voluptuous, but their brief romantic scenes lack an essential eroticism. (La Colombiana is one of those "bad girls" with a heart of gold, who ends up tragically martyred in the line of duty, a clich that dates back to films like Under Two Flags, Suez and Destry Rides Again.) Picho brings a raw, Akim Tamiroff-type energy to his role and Pilar Bardem (Javier's mother), as the madam, Chuchupe, has the deep voice and weathered countenance of an aged drag queen, but even this isn't comically touched upon.

--David Noh