The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999)

Karl Thomasson is back and is still tortured by his days serving in the military. After flashing back to his old days with a military buddy named Macy who made him swear an oath before he died while imprisoned, he visits his Macy’s daughter. She so happens to be a teacher at a fictitious college where the dominant force is the school football team, all of whom are juicing up on some kind of experimental steroids. After she’s attacked by local drug dealers, Thomasson takes it upon himself to go undercover as a professor and begin investigating who attacked her. While trying to figure out the identity of her attackers, he uncovers a drug ring and begins learning about the dangers of steroids as players slowly either turn up dead or become increasingly violent.

This third film barely seems to have enough material for one film, so there’s an awful lot of filler that sucks up the run time. There’s an especially goofy plot point where Thomasson hires an old female military buddy to go undercover at a “Hooters” bar the local drug dealer king pin frequents. The gorgeous Claudia Christian plays rough and tumble ex-mercenary Andy, who tries to seduce one of the drug dealers, all of which leads to absolutely nothing. This is seriously a sub-plot that goes nowhere, as she accomplishes nothing, and doesn’t really help Thomasson save for treating the audience to a gratuitous wet tee shirt contest. There are also a lot of goofy scenes with Thomasson connecting with the daughter of his army buddy, and an oddly tacked on moment where he lectures his class about the danger of taking steroids.

The movie can never decide if it wants our villains to be sympathetic or slimy clichés, so it opts for both, drawing broad mobsters that act as cannon fodder for Thomasson and his pals to either beat up or viciously murder. The people that we’re supposed to sympathize with are barely discussed, including the school’s coach whose fear of losing his career prompted him to turn away from the obvious steroid abuse. It’s kind of awkward watching the heroes walking off in to the sunset as the radio plays overhead explaining the coach character committed suicide. Uh—the good guys win…? Yay? Treat Williams at least seems to be more lively in this role the second time around, even engaging in a pretty fun throw down next to a pool. Who knew glasses lens could be used as a blade?