Substitute I and III

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Now, this is a double feature, but the movies follow the same basic storyline, so I will summarize them in one segment. The difference between the two plot lines is that one takes place within a high school setting, the other at the college level. Both stories revolve around a battle worn mercenary who enters the school zone after a female friend is injured by thugs inside the learning institutions. In both cases, more than milk money is being filtered through the halls, and The Substitute is about to go undercover and bust the perps who are responsible. But he’s not going in alone, he brings along his buddies, who specialize in surveillance and what not. Of course, those criminal types don’t go down easy, and multiple fist fights and shooting matches occur. Will the halls be safe once again, when The Substitute’s tenure is over?

I know these movies are often overlooked, but I find myself enjoying more every time I watch them. I like action movies, so of course, these flicks are a natural match. While they aren’t the best offerings the genre has, they make a great alternative if I’m not in the mood for Arnold or Sly. I enjoy the whole mercenary side of the movies, and the ultra cool teams, with their hidden cameras and other goodies. Both movies are loaded with the action genre obligation one liners, which are always humorous. I will be honest, these movies could be analyzed and found lacking, but come one, they are fun action movies, who cares if they are great films? I enjoyed watching them, and will continue to do so for while to come. I recommend these movies to action fans everywhere, they might not be the best, but they sure do give one heck of a ride!

Now, in the first movie of this series, Tom Berenger plays the lead role of The Substitute. He does a good job, and handles the action scenes very well. Even during the more dialogue driven scenes, Berenger (Major League, Last of the Dogmen) manages to carry himself well. I’m not to going to claim this is Oscar winning stuff, but for the genre and profile of the film, Tom does a great turn. Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow) has a nice chunk of screen time as well, and gives a nice performance as the high school’s principal. Also appearing are William Forsythe (The Rock, Blue Streak), Raymond Cruz (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn 2), and Diane Venora (The 13th Warrior). In the second half of this double feature, Treat Williams assumes the character, and does surprisingly well with the role. Williams also played the lead in the second Substitute movie, so he seems at home in the role. Williams (The Devil’s Own, Deep Rising) isn’t an actor I pictured in action movies, but he handles himself very well. Also featured in this movie are Claudia Christian (The Chase), Ed Cameron, and Robert Harvey.

Video: How does it look?

The Substitute is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is anamorphically enhanced. The image is good, but appears to be on the soft side, but not to the degree of distraction. The colors are full, but since the movie uses a darker spectrum of color, you’ll usually see greys and blacks instead of the brighter hues. The contrast levels are a little on the bright side, which causes the softness I mentioned above. The detail level is high, but the darker portions of the image suffer, as the shadows are too light in tone. This is a minor error, but worth mentioning. Compression errors were minor, with some shimmering popping up, but in all, a solid transfer.

The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, although the case lists it as being formatted to fit your screen. The image is full frame on widescreen televisions, but appears as 1.85:1 widescreen on normal sets. I found very little to complain about with this visual transfer, it looks very good. The color schemes here more colorful than the previous movie, so we get to see some vibrant tones emerge. Black levels are perfect, with excellent detail and shadow layering. The disc is free from compression errors as well, another excellent transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

Audio for both of the features is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and with all the gun fire and explosions, you’ll be having some fun! The surrounds are used frequently, more so in The Substitute 3, however. The night scenes have some nice subtle use as well, although the bass is not heard from often. Dialogue is outstanding on both tracks, with high grade clarity and no separation issues.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Production notes, talent files, and a theatrical trailer are provided for both movies.

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