The Substitute (1996)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  19 April 1996 (USA)
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Reviews: 51 user | 24 critic

After a botched mission in Cuba, professional mercenary Shale and his crew Joey Six, Hollan, Rem, and Wellman head home to Miami, Florida, where Shale is reunited with his fiance Jane ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joey Six
Ana Azcuy ...
TV Announcer
Mr. Darrell Sherman
Jerome Brown
Janus Showreel Narrator
Matt Wolfson


After a botched mission in Cuba, professional mercenary Shale and his crew Joey Six, Hollan, Rem, and Wellman head home to Miami, Florida, where Shale is reunited with his fiance Jane Hetzko, who is a history teacher at Columbus High School in Miami. Some of Jane's students happen to be members of a street gang known as the "Kings of Destruction" (KOD), led by Juan Lacas, who has been terrorizing Jane. After Jane's kneecap is broken by a big seminole named Bull, she tells Shale that she believes Lacas ordered the attack, so Shale goes undercover as Jane's substitute, and initially, Jane has no idea that Shale is doing this. At the school, Shale meets principal Claude Rolle, librarian Hannah Dillon, and english and drama teacher Darrell Sherman. It turns out that Lacas is one of Jane's students. As Shale investigates the attack on Jane, he discovers that drugs are being circulated into the school. Shale even investigates local drug kingpin Johnny Glades, who may or may not have someone... Written by Todd Baldridge

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He has a lesson to teach. And nobody's going to have a problem with it. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, language and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El sustituto  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$40,167 (USA) (19 July 1996)


$14,752,141 (USA) (2 August 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie was shot during the summer months and kids enrolled in summer classes were extras on the film. Free Papa John's pizza was served to anyone who would stay after school. See more »


When Joey Six is at the fruit stand he says "Wellman, they're switching cars" and during the botched drug deal he acts surprised that Wellman came back. See more »


[Shale confronts Juan Lacas and his cronies in the library]
Shale: Ohh, I can't tell you boys how much I needed this.
Juan Lacas: When we're done, I want you to say 'I'm Sorry' 100 times.
Shale: Shh. No talking in the library.
See more »


Followed by The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999) See more »


Room to Roam
Written by Wylie
Performed by Wylie & The Wild West Show
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Great fun. Just don't take it seriously!
1 April 2003 | by (Omaha, NE USA) – See all my reviews

No matter how many times this movie is shown on cable, I still have to pause for at least a few minutes and watch portions of it. This is one of those action films that will entertain you as long as you don't try to apply logic to it or take it seriously.

The story has a professional mercenary (Berenger) and his army pals looking for work after they are cut loose from active duty following a botched mission in Cuba. Berenger doesn't want the group to get involved in running drugs for anyone, but that seems to be the only work that mercs can get these days in Florida. After Berenger's girlfriend is attacked by a ruthless street gang (led by Latin heart-throb Marc Anthony, no less) he and his pals end up trying to weed them out of the high school where she teaches. Berenger poses as her substitute teacher, and once he gets an inside look at the problems at the school, he realizes there may be more than just a gang of punks causing the trouble. It's up to Berenger and his merc pals to try and rid the school of its criminal element, and make things safer for the kids.

You cannot deny the good intentions of the plot, even if it is a bit preposterous. The acting is a little wooden in places, and the soundtrak (particularly the rap song in during the final credits) is laughable. The script has some questionable dialogue, and sometimes it can be downright amatuerish. There are plenty of shoot-outs and explosions to get the viewer's blood pumping, and it's nice to see someone make a stand in a tough environment like an inner-city high school.

This movie has spawned a few sequels which I won't comment on since I have only seen one of them, and they have no connection to the original.

Overall, this film is definitely worth watching if you are into action and revenge type themes. If you are looking for anything deep and insightful about the problems of the inner-cities, you may want to look elsewhere.

So sayeth the Hound.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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