Tough choice, they're very different -- the brute now is a strength pounder, before he was more of a tank. I suppose it depends on whether you're comfortable being without a weapon for that long in the second path, given that your strength is lower and you haven't got any disarm skills. To me, the flail path is a better one because it has more defenses and more speed, so you don't just sit there and get killed after sang-chaud.
And I would keep the shurikens as well. Every brute can benefit from a ninja mode.