The Substitute

The Substitute

For other uses, see Substitute (disambiguation).
The Substitute
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Mandel
Written by Roy Frumkes
Rocco Simonelli
Starring Tom Berenger
Ernie Hudson
Diane Venora
Glenn Plummer
Cliff De Young
Marc Anthony
Richard Brooks
Raymond Cruz
Luis Guzmán
and William Forsythe
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date(s)Template:Plainlist
Running time 114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14,818,176

The Substitute is a 1996 action-crime-thriller film directed by Robert Mandel and starring Tom Berenger, Ernie Hudson, Marc Anthony, William Forsythe, Raymond Cruz, and Luis Guzmán.


The plot revolves around Shale (Berenger), a mercenary and a Vietnam veteran who goes undercover as a high school teacher in Miami to combat a gang. In the beginning of the film Shale comes home from a disastrous mission where three of his men were killed in an operation in Cuba. He arrives in Miami to find out that a knee-cap attack has left his girlfriend Jane Hetzko with a broken leg. Shale decides to play the part of a Harvard-educated substitute teacher and recruit his former soldiers (Raymond Cruz, Luis Guzmán, Richard Brooks, and William Forsythe) in order to find the culprits. While teaching history, Shale crosses paths with "Kings of Destruction" (KOD) gang leader Juan Lacas (Marc Anthony). Shale realizes that Lacas is responsible for Jane's attack, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of his nefarious activities. Shale's team infiltrates the school and sets up military surveillance gear throughout the bathrooms and corridors which lead to the discovery that Lacas is in cahoots with principal Rolle (Ernie Hudson) to use the school buses and their secret storage compartments as conduits for a heroin distribution ring in the greater Miami area.


In an article about films about troubled teens, The AV Club stated "There have been plenty of movies about white people coming into inner-city schools and whipping the students into shape, but nothing quite like The Substitute, which brings the subtly racist, paternalistic elements of those films right to the surface."[1]



A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on April 9, 1996 by Priority Records. It peaked at #90 on the Billboard 200 and #18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.


Three direct-to-DVD sequels were made with Treat Williams replacing Tom Berenger: The Substitute 2: School's Out, The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All, and The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option.

Home media

The movie was first released on DVD in 1997 by LIVE Entertainment. It was re-released on DVD and bundled with The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All in 2000.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • at Facemelting Films