Ah, the 80’s – a time when a guy could control a small town with a number of thugs and a whole lot of persuasion. No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), a ne’er-do-well that has no trouble ruling a small Missouri city with an iron fist. Little does he know, however, that Swayze’s James Dalton just strolled into town…
If you’ve seen the movie, you pretty much know how things are playing out in the enjoyable Road House. You’ve got plenty of fights, plenty of nudity (including some Swayze for the ladies), grizzled old Sam Elliot having a field day as a fellow bouncer, and so much more. It’s quintessential 80’s action, without holding anything back.
Don’t believe me? There’s a great fight near a lake where some line about “used to fuck guys like you in prison” comes into play; there’s a scene where a goofball thug is done in by a stuffed bear (“You’re made for each other”); and so much more. I mean, where else do you see a classy Mercedes get rampaged through a fence and blown to bits – AFTER a monster truck has torn through an auto dealership?!
Director Rowdy Harrington doesn’t hold back on the cheese, and Road House benefits greatly from that decision. There are some moments where things are played out for pathos, but that’s just part of the late Swayze’s mystique as Dalton. He’s cool as ice as a ballroom ball begins to play out, but then cleans house without breaking a sweat – even on the toughest guys in the room. Some may argue that Point Break is Swayze’s defining moment in cinema (or, for that matter, Ghost), but I can’t help but think this is some of his finest work.
Just sit back and relax with a film like Road House. It’s not supposed to make sense (where are the cops, and for that matter, the FBI again?), and it’s hard to believe that a bouncer could hold enough of a budget to afford consistent repairs on himself AND a Mercedes. Still, it’s all about the ride, and this film certainly provides one.
What’s more, Shout! Factory has given the film a suitable replacement to the bare-bones MGM release that came out a few years ago. The video treatment is excellent, with only some minor fragments getting in the way of a good, solid picture; and the audio is equally good, whether you’re listening to the fun music score (way too serious, but never mind) or the late Jeff Healey’s enjoyable songs.
It’s with the extras that Road House really finds its footing, starting with two audio commentaries. The first, by Harrington, isn’t bad and goes into detail on the production, but you should definitely listen to the second, featuring fans Kevin Smith (director of Yoga Hosers) and Scott Mosier. They let loose with all sorts of banter, including jokes that hilariously replace Chuck Norris with Dalton. Deservedly so!
Plenty of extras are on the second disc as well, which is a Blu-Ray disc instead of a DVD like Buckaroo Banzai. The Making of Road House (I Thought You’d Be Bigger) takes a look back at the production as a whole, and The Stunts of Road House is worth watching as well. Rowdy Herrington also chats for about a half hour about the filming of the movie, if you’re not up for the audio commentary.
Other features include a great featurette on the Music of Road House, Remembering Patrick Swayze, older archived interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and some other vintage stuff. The original theatrical trailer is here as well, and it’s glorious.
No, Road House isn’t for all tastes, but if you’re someone that can come to appreciate a fun, mindless action film, this Blu-Ray will certainly be your speed. After all, how great is it to see Wesley and his a-hole minions get theirs at the hands of Dalton? Pretty damn great.