MGM // 1989 // 114 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 19th, 2003
Enter at your own risk.
When you want to clean house, Dalton (Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing, Point Break) is the only man you need. Dalton is lean, mean fighting machine with a bouffant hairstyle who doesn't take crap from anyone. From north to south, east to west, Dalton has made a name for himself as one of the best bar bouncers around, with a canny ability to clean up a rough and tumble saloon faster than you can say "gimme two shots 'a whiskey." In Jasper, Missouri, Frank Tilghman (Kevin Tighe, Stephen King's Rose Red) is having a hell of a time keeping order in his bar, delicately named The Double Deuce. After a visit to see Dalton's skills first hand, Frank offers him $500 a night to perform a complete sweep of his establishment. Dalton agrees and soon finds himself in deeper than he ever could have imagined when he crosses paths with Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara, The Spanish Prisoner), a rich, egotistic crime boss who practically runs the town of Jasper. With the help of his grizzled bar buddy, Wade Garrett (Sam Elliot, We Were Soldiers), and a beautiful young doctor/love interest (Kelly Lynch, Charlie's Angels), Dalton may be able to put an end to Brad Wesley's reign and bring some peace to the Double Deuce!
If you can believe it, there was a time when Patrick Swayze actually commanded top dollar and top billing in big budget action movies. Though that time is long since past (let's all say it together: Fatherhood), we can still look back with fondness at such silly cinematic fare as 1989's slugfest Road House. Filled with stereotypical characters (hicks!) and gallons of candy glass, Road House is a guy movie in every sense of the word. In the span of two hours Mr. Swayze manages to beat the snot out of anyone and everyone he comes into contact with, all to the tune of The Jeff Healy Band's beer-soaked melodies. Though he never managed to garner clout like Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger, Swayze does retain a strong screen presence that works in his favor. The supporting cast includes a very hairy Sam Elliot doing his best "I live my life on the road and I've seen everything" impression, Kelly Lynch as Dalton's amazingly good looking girlfriend/doctor, and Ben Gazzara as the film's resident heavy...which means he gets to sneer a lot and endlessly chew on the scenery. Road House was produced by Joel Silver, who also had a hand in bringing to the screen such action hits as The Matrix and Die Hard. Like those explosive extravaganzas, Road House is filled with so much action that it'll make your head spin. At every turn a beer bottle's being broken over a head or someone's flying face first through a closed window. To no one's surprise, the plot is predictably weak, but who really cares if it's all just inconsequential fluff when the action's this much fun? Like Sylvester Stallone's Cobra and Schwarzenegger's Commando, Road House wants nothing more than to kick some ass and blow stuff up real good. You won't find an Academy Award winning performance or screenplay here, but you will find lots of bloody knuckles. If you're expecting more than that from a movie about bar bouncers, you deserve a swift and generous kick to your avocado sack.
Road House is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I'm happy to report that you Patrick Swayze fans will be more than excited to see this first-ever DVD of Road House in a glorious widescreen image! The colors and black levels are all solid and bright without any major imperfections marring the image. Though there are a few minor flaws (including some grain in the picture), overall this is a fine transfer. The soundtrack is presented in a very well done Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in English and French. I was very surprised to find this track filled with dynamic range and a few well placed -- if minimal -- directional effects. The quality of this audio mix was unexpected and very good. All aspects of the mix are free and clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles, as well as a Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono soundtrack in Spanish.
You're going to need a few shots of Southern Comfort when you hear about all the extra features included on this disc. First off, there's a theatrical trailer for the film presented in anamorphic widescreen. Secondly, there's...uh, actually that's it. Just a trailer. Another round of blues, bartender!
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Original Theatrical Trailer