J.R. Taylor
September 06, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Substitute (Movie - 1996)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Tom Berenger, Cliff De Young, William Forsythe, Luis Guzman, Ernie Hudson, Diane Venora
director
Robert Mandel
distributor
Orion Pictures
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B+

Best suited for drive-ins and now finding a home on video, director Robert Mandel’s The Substitute successfully updates the ’70s genre of Vietnam vets warring against drug dealers (as seen in trash classics like 1973’s Gordon’s War). Disowned by the government after a covert mission, a mercenary (Tom Berenger) carefully parts his hair and fills in for his high-school-teacher girlfriend (Diane Venora) after classroom toughs lay her up in the hospital. It isn’t long before he kicks some delinquent ass and teaches the kids about Nam, while enlisting the aid of his old biker cronies. The film is worth watching for all the strangeness on the periphery, including sensitive ’70s stud Cliff De Young as a sleazeball lawyer, and a sensuous sex scene involving a piece of wire and the girlfriend’s plaster cast. B+

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