The Substitute

The Substitute
(1996)

Rating: ******
              4.8/6

Directed by Robert Mandel
Starring Tom Berenger

Tom Berenger plays a seasoned vet,
A black ops man elite.
He has with him his well-trained team
And a scar from eye to cheek.

His team is out of work
So he visits his lady friend,
Who works at an inner city school
Where the violence ain’t pretend.

She makes somebody angry,
So her kneecap gets a swat.
This causes Tom Berenger
To go to her school and take her spot.

He fakes up some credentials,
Three degrees—well above par,
But the Principal still notices
That he hasn’t faked his scar.

The Principal’s a retired cop,
With charm and grace and patience,
Who once a year in the school gym
Gives karate demonstrations.

Berenger feels his way around,
And lets his students test him.
After he subdues two violent boys
The class learns to respect him.

It seems not all of them are happy
Being gang related.
They wouldn’t like it if their children
Grew up with the blood and hatred.

The Principal’s uneasy,
For something doesn’t fit.
With this scarred and hardened substitute
Who is changing things a bit.

Berenger has his people
Install cameras and mikes
And follow the gang leader
As he travels where he likes.

He soon finds out they’re dealing drugs,
But that is not the topper.
They’re working for the Principal,
The guy who was once a copper.

He tries to apprehend some men,
But they want to resist.
They kill them and they grab the cash,
And throw the drugs to the fish.

Then he spends the money
On equipment for the school,
Showing the Principal exactly
That he’s nobody’s tool.

The Principal gets frightened
And sends the gang’s feared leader
To the home of Tom’s girlfriend
And wait for him with heaters.

She’s not alone. She has a friend.
A student who witnessed a scene:
She saw her beloved Principal
Hiding drugs and acting mean.

The Principal hid all the drugs
Within the school’s basement.
He also killed a teacher
Whom he’d at first thought was an agent.

Tom is warned that someone’s there,
Waiting in her apartment.
He comes well armed, but gets subdued
By those who are more ardent.

Luckily he gets some help
From another of his students.
After a battle, the bad guys are dead
And the young ones have more prudence.

Then Berenger assembles his team
For a showdown at the school,
But he’s unprepared for the professional mercs
The Principal hired for his removal.

Handicapped, his men fight like mad
Till all but one remain.
Several sacrifice their lives
So their enemies can be slain.

Tom Berenger meets the Principal
And they use some hand-to-hand
Till Berenger is the one still left alive
And the other cannot stand.

Tom and one of his men survive
They won—but at what cost?
They took a heavy beating.
They took a heavy loss.

A film this entertaining
Makes me glad to be alive.
That’s why I’ll be giving this
Four stars out of five.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *