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Solid, Outstanding action/drama you'll want to see again.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We rented this movie with a only a single recommendation from a friend, and with every apprehension that The Substitute was going to be just another stereotypical formula-film loaded with the '90s political correctness that has all but taken over the film industry. To our surprise, this movie told its story honestly, and without pretension. The Substitute did not have to use stereotypical characters, nor was it formulated to please the masses. Most importantly, The Substitute does not offend the intellect of the movie goer. Tom Berenger is excellent, as always. But surprisingly, there isn't a bad performance by any cast member. This is a well made, well thought out, well acted movie. Rent it once and you'll be adding it to your videos to own list."
Suprisingly Effective Berenger Action Movie
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 04/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Substitute is one of those movies that you fear is going to be horrible, regardless of its potential. But it is actually a very entertaining movie that is a must-see for action movie buffs, and military/paramilitary movie buffs.
Berenger plays a mercenary who leads a team that travels all over the world engaging in clandestine activities. Back home in Florida with his girlfriend, Berenger springs into action when his teacher girlfriend is hurt by a thug at the high school where she teaches. Berenger decides to investigate undercover at the school, and he lands there as a history teacher. He soons finds that his girlfriend's assailant is a gang member helping to deal drugs out of the school. With the help of his team, Berenger works to uncover and smash the drug plot and revenge his girlfriend's assault. Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame is the principal at the school who ends up getting his own mercenaries to protect his interests.
Berenger is not really known for being in action films, but he is very menacing and believable in this role. This is an excellent action film."
A Guilty Pleasure
Stephen Kaczmarek | Columbus, Ohio United States | 12/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Those of us who teach for a living enjoy a guilty pleasure in "The Substitute." While we'd never dream of ever harming any of our students--well, at least I'd never dream of it--the catharsis from a fiction about a good guy mercenary cleaning house of all the bad influences in an urban high school--violent punks, drug lowlifes and sociopath gangbangers and the evil adults who indulge their self-destruction--is just too wonderful to pass up. Tom Berenger eschews the angry racist persona he brought to life so ably in "Platoon" for a different man of action, in this case, Shales, a professional soldier with a heart and a brain. Besieged and assaulted by teenybopper thugs who work for the local drug kingpin, his teacher girlfriend turns to the only man who might be able to stop them, forcing Shales to go undercover as a substitute teacher to root out the source of the problems. While the script is fantasy and has very little to do with teaching, and the production values are on the "B" side, the able cast--including Ernie Hudson, William Forsythe, Richard Brooks, and many other familiar faces--plays it with just the right amount of humor and zeal. Director Robert Mandel infuses the production with a pace and wit that has helped other low-budget productions make it to cult status (think "Alligator"), and "The Substitute" deserves an audience. If you teach, put this one on your shelf for those days when you feel like you could use a mercenary to put some order back into the classroom for you!"
"Blackboard Jungle" with grenades and tec-10s!
TheIrrationalMan | 09/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This formula action film starts with the ho-hum premise of a CIA man Berenger undergoing the task of becoming a substitute teacher in a tough school, where he wonderfully repays the thuggish students in kind. After that, the plot takes a turn for the ludicrous as he uncovers a drug operation and smashes a posse of gangbangers. Strictly for action junkies, though the gun battles and fist fights have a sharper edge than usual. The treatment is fairly realistic as well, and, as one reviewer has pointed out below, the embarrassing PC treatment, which constantly rears its head into almost every film nowadays, is largely absent here. Tom Berenger convinces as the agent-cum-educator with a highly heterodox approach to school discipline. An entertaining actioner of quite some appeal."
Very entertaining! Cathartic!
skunktrain | So. California, USA | 12/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this movie with my sweet, grandmotherly, grey-haired mother. We both loved it. Something about it struck a chord with both of us. I guess maybe because both of us (yes, even sweet grey-haired mom) have experienced somewhat miserable school experiences--I don't know why, exactly, but something about this film was cathartic. I think we both wished we'd had a school teacher who was a little like the Tom Berenger character in this film. Berenger plays a tough merecenary type who ends up infiltrating a very rough high school, after his teacher-girlfriend is injured by school thugs. We both enjoyed seeing this take-no-BS fellow handle his unruly classes. We *really* enjoyed seeing this.The supporting cast (including Berenger's eclectic collection of mercenary buddies) are excellent. Ernie Hudson as the villan is very effective. A very entertaining film! Recommended."