The Substitute

release year: 1997
genre: action
viewing setting: home DVD, 5/18/13 and 6/2/06 and 3/1/98

synopsis: A mercenary with some off-time visits an old girlfriend, finds out that the high school she teaches at has problems, and decides to help by posing as a substitute teacher.

impressions: This is a pretty good movie. It has all the basic elements of an entertaining action movie: hand-to-hand fighting, gunfire, plot twists, drug dealers, gadgets, surveillance, good lines, special forces action. It also has William Forsythe, which automatically adds value to any action movie. The writers found a way to challenge the good guys, whose training and experience should have let them demolish all of the bad guys. One good scene is when Berenger's character is facing some goons and disarms them, then tosses aside his own weapon and cracks his knuckles while saying "you guys don't know how much I needed this" before he kicks their asses.

activation point: 37:00 - this is when Mr. Smith proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that he's in charge of the class

asses kicked by Tom Berenger: 30

body count: 13

something this movie has that no other movie has: A bad guy who can shatter a wooden paddle with a short punch.

acting: Tom Berenger does a good job as the world-weary soldier who finds a new challenge in an inner-city school. Diane Venora is his ex who's a teacher, but not tough enough to handle the problems. William Forsythe is an insane pal of Berenger's. Ernie Hudson is one of the bad guys, and plays his role with zest.

final word: Good simple action.

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