Road House (1989) starring Patrick Swayze, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara, Kevin Tighe, Kelly Lynch, Marshall R. Teague, Julie Michaels, Red West, Sunshine Parker, Jeff Healey, Kathleen Wilhoite directed by Rowdy Herrington Movie Review

Road House (1989)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Patrick Swayze as Dalton in Road House (1989)

There's Dirty Dancing at this Road House

"I though you'd be bigger", well by the time "Road House" came along Patrick Swayze was big having starred in the always popular "Dirty Dancing". Relying equally on his sex appeal and toned muscular physique as he battles his way through several cliche ridden scenes and the compulsory sexy dance scene, "Road House" could have been a poor attempt to capitalize on Patrick Swayze and nothing else. But in fact it's not that bad, yes "Road House" is incredibly cheesy but along with Sam Elliott as Wade Garrett, Patrick Swayze is more than capable of playing the action lead giving his character a Zen like quality when he's not punching his way through a barroom brawl.

Dalton (Patrick Swayze - Youngblood) a road house bouncer with a reputation for being the best of the best is hired to help straighten out a rowdy Missouri road house known as the 'Double Deuce' and turn it into a profitable business. A simple enough job for the best in the business except the 'Double Deuce' has other problems mainly in the shape of the town's kingpin, Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara - Anatomy of a Murder) and his henchmen, who will kill anyone who gets in their way.

Julie Michaels as Denise in Road House (1989)

The storyline to "Road House" is nothing more than the reworking of the classic good guy rolls in to town to sort out the bad guys; it's like a singular version of "The Magnificent Seven", except "Road House" places the action around a night club with only one good guy hired to sort out the mess. This main theme allows for plenty of action as Patrick Swayze's Dalton takes on the bad guys in a range of fight scenes to show off his martial arts and Swayze's much toned physique.

On top of this "Road House" smuggles in the obligatory romantic element to the story featuring a romance between Dalton and the doctor who stitches him up after his fights, culminating in a sexually charged dance scene. All of these plot elements makes "Road House" pretty predictable, it doesn't throw any curve balls at you, preferring to stay on the path well trodden and in all honesty it doesn't need to as the enjoyment factor of "Road House" comes from it's cliche ridden simplicity, action and to some extent the cheesiness of the dialogue.

As the main star, Patrick Swayze does a reasonable job as Zen bouncer Dalton of turning a run of the mill movie into something more entertaining. He provides both an action figure for the male audience and a sex symbol for the female audience. Surprisingly he actually looked very convincing in the fight scenes and of course he was very good in his one brief sexy dance scene. Opposite Swayze is Kelly Lynch who plays the love interest in the form of Dr. Elizabeth Clay and to be really honest, she is pretty appalling through out the movie as all she does is float around looking beautiful, which she does brilliantly. Although they tried to give the character some depth and history, it was a complete waste of time as Lynch failed to deliver.

Probably the best character in "Road House" is Wade Garrett played by Sam Elliott. Just by looking at him, he comes across as someone who has been in one too many fights; this was the best piece of casting in the whole movie. Plus of course there is the shapely Julie Michaels who delivers the very memorable striptease/ dance scene in the Double Deuce.

"Road House" is directed by Rowdy Herrington who later went on to direct "Striking Distance" with Bruce Willis. For a movie which is now in its twenties and feeling a bit dated, Herrington has not done such a bad job. The action scenes look very effective, the movie moves along at a nice pace, the performances are reasonable, and it does stay focused on the story. The only thing which lets it down is the cliché ridden dialogue performed with real heartfelt meaning. But remember this sort of dialogue was great back in 1989; this was the year which saw Richard Marx hit the UK music charts with "Right Here Waiting".

One of the best things about "Road House" is the excellent Blues/ Rock soundtrack provided by the Jeff Healey Band. For those who don't know, Jeff Healey is a famous blues guitarist who has been blind since the age of 1. Jeff actually appears in the movie as the singer Cody in the band which plays at the Double Deuce.

What this all boils down to is that for a movie which was released at the end of the 80's, "Road House" is still enjoyable, although a little bit dated. The performances are adequate and are pretty typical for its era. As I have already mentioned, the biggest let down when it comes to "Road House" is the dialogue. To be honest it is not a bad movie and if you really want a bit of 80's Swayze nostalgia then "Road House" is a perfect companion for "Dirty Dancing".