Road House 1989 ***

Road House 1

Joel Silver could certainly package an action movie in the 80’s and 90’s. Whatever audience feelings might have been about Patrick Swayze’s believability as a super-tough bouncer, the diminutive star manages to cut the mustard as Dalton, a man who has a talent for ripping throats out with his bare hands. Dalton moves from NYC to Jasper, Mississippi to keep the locals in line at the Double Deuce, an odd rough-and-tumble drinking den that’s more brightly lit than an airport lounge, where the baby-faced Jeff Healey appears to permanently playing his guitar on-stage and Kathleen Wilhoite, Luke’s sister in Gilmore Girls, hangs out at the bar. Dalton’s presence annoys sleaze-ball local boss Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who has the locals contributing a good ten per cent of their income to his slush fund, which he seems to spend on idiotic henchmen and a lair of giant stuffed animals and polar bears. Such ostentatious living is alien to the humble Dalton, who prefers to live in a shack without electricity that he hires from a local Santa. Dalton and Wesley are on a collision course, and if that’s not enough to hang a redneck movie on, Sam Elliott turns up as bouncer’s bouncer Wade Garrett and there’s even a gratuitous ‘intimidation by monster truck’ set piece involving smashing up a car dealership. While no masterpiece, Road House just about gets the job done with hiss-able villains and knockabout camaraderie from the leads. The romantic subplot is a bit of a pain, but Road House has a far more accomplished cast than a Patrick Swayze punch-up flick requires, and it’s a guilty pleasure for when a serious film is just too much trouble. When you’re director is called Rowdy Herrington, you probably know what you’re getting.

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