Friday, 13 March 2009

Road House (1989)

Note: I'll be uploading some old Bullshit Movie reviews on this here blog for the sake of completion as well as reminding you all about some Bullshit Classics.

If there's one cinematic cliche I'm crazy about, it is the bar brawl! A fight breaks out between two people in a bar in a movie and somehow that encourages all the other people around them to stop what they're doing and beat each other up as bottles and chairs go flying around the place! Now you're lucky if a movie contains ONE bar brawl, but how about a far-out flick that is FULL OF THEM! I give you Road House, the classic motion picture dedicated to the art of the bar-brawl and the science of the bouncer.

Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, the best 'cooler' in the bar business. Now a 'cooler' is a guy who runs the bouncers in a bar and basically keeps things orderly between the meat-head patrons. He's contacted by a well-meaning bar-owner, played by Kevin Tighe, who describes his place, The Double Deuce, as "the kind of place where they mop up eyeballs off the floor after closing." Now Dalton is quite a character, envisionaged in this film as a modern day Jesus. He knows that his powers are best used where they are most needed, so he hightails his cushy job, gives his car to a homeless bum (thankfully, he had his other car, a BMW, in storage) and drives out to meet his awaited destiny at The Double Deuce. Road House pre-empts the rise of Steven Seagal by a couple of years by offering a hero that is a combination of Eastern Philosophy and Western Kicking-Ass Know-How. We are informed that Swayze has a PhD in Philosophy (When asked what type of philosophy, he responds, "Man's search for faith. That sort of shit."). He practices a morning routine of Tai Chi where he is shirt-less and greased up, making his body glisten in the sunlight. He never uses his lethal powers until he is pushed to, and in a similar fashion to the trademark Seagal characterisation, he is whispered about constantly -- "Hey, who is this guy?, "Hey, this guy is good!", "I heard he ripped a guy's throat out!" and the best one, "Story is, if you fuck with him, he'll seal your fate!" And he embodies what a man was, or should have been, in 1989 - a white Judo-styled shirt (who needs buttons?), tight-ass jeans and a raging blow-dried mullet. The man also has demons, haunted by a past where he killed a guy, and troubled in the present, as his attempts to clean up the Double Deuce are met with resistance by the town bad guy, gangster Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who runs the town with the mayor and the sheriff in his pocket blah blah.

Produced by action movie master Joel Silver, Road House delivers everything a 17 year old male ever wanted in a movie: ass-kicking, table-splitting, throat-ripping, shotgun-clacking, monster truck demolition derby, flying exploding cars, a striptease by a blonde with big boobs, a fat guy in a CAT trucker's cap getting punched in his overhanging gut, a blues bar band fronted by a blind guy, and balls-to-the-walls-and-every-inch-of-the-blood-stained-floors action! It has also has a few things for the ladies - y'know, the bits where the movie drags - taken to this flick by their drop-kick boyfriends: their favourite Dirty Dancer getting up out of bed nude with a trademark Richard Gere butt-shot, a romantic interest with a Doctor played by the tall, leggy, blonde Kelly Lynch, who falls for Dalton after stitching a knife wound and hearing his profound thoughts like "pain don't hurt" and "nobody wins a fight". Of course, out on the town, Kelly Lynch lets down her hair and takes off her glasses (she's not just brains, but a bimbo with brains!) and succumbs to the Swayze on the second date where discussion over her uncle turns into an air-borne penetration in the course of two minutes! And there's something also for the more sexually-confused male members of the audience when all the beef-cake shots of Swayze climax in a mud-slopping, fist fight between him and the main bad guy henchman, Jimmy, who seeths threateningly to Swayze, "I used to fuck guys like you in prison!" Did I say this movie was awesome? No? This movie is awesome. And I haven't even discussed the highlight of Sam Elliott playing Swayze's mentor/buddy who helps him stomp bad guys, looking like he's been sleeping in a ditch for three days and uttering in his gravelly cowboy voice great lines like, "I'll get all the sleep I need when I'm dead."

Road House, the last of the drive-in, mullets and muscles, T & A action flicks of the 1980s, and yet the beginning of the genre's interest in being quasi-philosophical and profound. And when was the last time you saw a film directed by a guy named Rowdy Herrington?

DALTON: [Patrick Swayze]: "All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three, be nice."

1 comment:

Chris Beason (BADFISH2) said...

Stopping by two years after your review. You hit it on the head. I came across "Roadhouse" on AMC tonight and I usually stop to watch the beginning. There's something about those awesome lines that has that 'watching a train wreck' quality. The end gets just plain silly so I usually don't bother to stick around that long. gotta love that 80's hair and dancing.
Great review.