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The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999) – Review

2 Stars

For a few weeks in the mid-1990s The Substitute ruled the box-office charts, resulting in a modest hit. The film was a fascist fantasy that re-envisioned Dangerous Minds as a Death Wish type action thriller, commonly referred to as Dangerous Teacher. Melding Rambo and the well-worn path of films like The Principle, Lean on Me and numerous others, the revenge flick was headlined by Tom Berenger and a young Marc Anthony. The sequel saw Treat Williams take over in the lead and this follow-up features him once again as Karl Thomasson, an ex mercenary with a doctorate in literature.

A steroid scandal is leading to foul play on the campus of Eastern Atlantic University. If the starting line-up doesn’t pass their english course, than the school’s first winning football season will be in jeopardy. One instructor refuses to succumb to the pressures of the athletic department and is brutally attacked. Karl once again goes undercover to expose the corruption and bring the attackers to justice. Thomasson and his small band of soldiers discover that the football squad are entrenched in a dangerous game of drugs and extortion along with a local mob kingpin.

The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All shows signs that the formula is weakening. The first two pictures had plenty of scenes in the classroom and a couple of nifty set-ups and pay-offs. This film has been streamlined and stripped to its base elements. The whole movie plays out in a perfunctory manner, even the relationship between Thomasson and the injured female professor is derivative of the first film. Its time to stop the series when writers start to ape their own creative output. The Substitute 3 isn’t awful, just routine.

Director: Robert Radler
Stars: Treat Wiliiams, Clauida Christian, James Black

One Response to The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999) – Review

  • I love all the Substitute movies. I confuse parts of the first and second sequels, but I worked a play once with the comrade our hero has to kill to end his suffering and then uses his dental work to pick the lock on their cell! Wish they were still making these flicks.

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