THE SUBSTITUTE 4: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION (2001)
Directed by: Robert Radler
Screenplay: Dan Gurskis
Starring: Treat Williams, Angie Everhart, Bill Nunn, Tim Abell & Patrick Kilpatrick
The Substitute series (where a former special ops badass goes undercover into troubled schools to fight corruption, and was originally kicked off by Tom Berenger) amazingly made it to 4 entries. Good old reliable Treat Williams returns for a third go around and this time goes undercover at a military school to fight white supremacists. The domineering and ruthlessly racist Brack (Kilpatrick) runs the school with an iron fist seemingly converting everyone and anyone to his cruel and violent beliefs. With his squad of seasoned cadets, The Werewolves, Brack proves an imposing force for Williams’ solider turned undercover teacher.
This series has always been entertaining with the various gangs either Berenger or Williams have come up against, while posing as teachers, providing ample opportunity for some hard-hitting action. This entry is no different (and the military school setting is a nice change from your typical run down/inner city school environment) but perhaps finds itself hitting badass soldier-poses-as-teacher-to-kick-some-ass fatigue. The action is also a little thinner on the ground this time around with Williams and Kilpatrick not even getting a fight scene: hey, no fair! However, the lovely Angie Everhart (Jade) provides a nice distraction, especially for Williams (with the level of sex and nudity certainly ramped up for this instalment!) and B-movie action mainstay Tim Abell (Special Forces) also provides solid support as Williams’ army buddy roped in to help out.
There could have been a few more action scenes to pad out the runtime but what action there is fairly inventive and rough-and-ready as per the previous entries. Williams gets to show off some hand-to-hand skills (though is obviously doubled on occasions) in a couple of high impact fights and there is a particularly over-the-top sequence where he is attacked by rocket launcher wielding cadets and thwarts them by using (what else!) a massive JCB digger to squash them. B-movie action craziness!
No as entertaining as previous entries and the original The Substitute is still the best but The Substitute 4 is an entertaining enough low rent action sequel to wile-away 80 or so minutes late one evening.