The Substitute
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An ex-mercenary (Tom Berenger) becomes a take-no-prisoners teacher in a drug-ridden, gang-infested Miami high school in this campy morality tale about restoring lost American virtues to the inner city. Berenger's character, Shale, has no first name, a shadowy past as a patriotic gun-for-hire, and is temporarily unemployed and living with an idealistic teacher, Jane Hetzko (Diane Verona). Jane has angered a school gang leader, Juan Lucas (Marc Anthony), by asking the principal to get him transferred after he has threatened her in the schoolyard. After Jane is kneecapped by a gang member,… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"There's a sense of shrewd observation throughout The Substitute that makes it come alive and seem quite a few cuts above such usual genre fare."
‑ Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
"The title changes, the actors change, and the superficial details of the story change, but it is always about exactly the same thing: heavily armed men shooting at one another."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"What begins as watchable quickly degenerates into a no-brain action flick that produces a ton of derisive laughter."
‑ Chuck O'Leary, Fantastica Daily
"The silliness of The Substitute escalates as the film progresses, so that by the end there have been plenty of laughs during 'serious' scenes."
‑ Chris Hicks, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"This movie is a lot more entertaining than the Michelle Pfeiffer showcase Dangerous Minds."
‑ Barbara Shulgasser, San Francisco Examiner
"Aside from a lot of only moderately-satisfying violence, The Substitute comes across as rather lame."
‑ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"The entire setup is too garish to be credible."
‑ Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Really fun movie. Twist on the "Dangerous Minds" scenario."
‑ Fred Topel,
"A poorly written and barely acted, but crowd-pleasing revenge flick."
‑ Madeleine Williams, Cinematter
"Because The Substitute doesn't take itself seriously, it's a great deal of lowbrow fun."
‑ Louis B. Hobson, Jam! Movies
"Those who appreciate the irony of a killing machine turned loose on a pack of nasty students will find The Substitute a source of nonstop delight."
‑ Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"There's a certain amount of camp value to this over-the-top thriller, which might as well be called Rambo Goes to High School."
‑ John Hartl,
"Mediocre action flick with an ex-marine teacher taking his gang-banging students to task. Don't bother."
‑ Brian Mckay,
"Settles for being a deranged version of The A-Team meets The Principal."
‑ Rick Schultz, Boxoffice Magazine
More reviews for The Substitute on Rotten Tomatoes