Best Flicks of the 80s: Road House

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Ah, the 80s! When men had muscles and mullets and girls looked like they smell good and weren’t tattooed and pierced.
And when guy movies actually were made for, well, guys. Like action movies. No Keanus, no Matt Damons, no Orlando Blooms and similar dudes, who for some reason appear in action movies these days to attract a female audience. In the 1980s, action movies were manly movies about manly men, starring manly actors doing manly things.
The manliest movie of the 80s is Rowdy Herrington’s Road House from 1989. Now, Patrick Swayze isn’t really the manliest of men – in fact, he’s rather wimpy looking (and he has a mullet). But his character has a manly name: Dalton. And he’s a bouncer – the best bouncer you can get for money, or a couple of beers.
The Double Deuce in Jasper, Missouri, is a bar where life is cheap. The place is more like an Ultimate Fighting Championship ring than a bar. To make matters worse, Jasper is controlled by the slimy Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), a creep who “owns” the town. So the owner of the Double Deuce hires Dalton to take care of things – meaning: to kick some serious ass.
This task is of course pretty difficult, so Dalton needs help – he calls the guy who really is the best bouncer ever: Wade Garrett, who’s played by the manliest actor you can get for money or a couple of beers, next to Charles Bronson. Sam Elliott. Elliott is so manly he has a moustache. What the hell happened to moustached heroes these days? Not even Tom Selleck has one anymore! The world needs more moustaches!
Dalton and Garrett join forces and beat the crap out of most of the bad guys, Dalton picks up a blonde nurse played by Kelly Lynch, leading to a sex scene against a wall, Dalton shows his ass in the moonlight, and the late Jeff Healey is Cody, who performs a couple of songs with his band while the audience throws bottles at him.
Unfortunately things get worse. Psychotic martial artist Jimmy (Marshall Teague) works for Wesley and they have Garrett killed. This pisses Dalton off, so he rips Jimmy’s throat out and kills Wesley and most of his men. Dalton maybe even gets the girl after all, she got a bit upset when she saw Dalton killing Jimmy. But what the hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Road House is one of the best action movies ever. A simple, easy to follow story, good characters, a great soundtrack, buckets of violence and really cool fights. As a matter of fact, the film is so tough the Swedish censors made seven cuts in it back in ’89, the longest of them one minute and 23 seconds (nowadays it’s of course uncut).
Rowdy Herrington has only directed eight movies, and none of the can hold a candle to Road House, a film that has become sort of a classic of its kind and has lots of dedicated fans, including director Kevin Smith.
Road House 2: Last call is a straight to DVD sequel that arrived in 2006. The hero is a guy called Shane Tanner (Johnathon Schaech, who also co-wrote the screenplay) who’s supposed to be the son of Dalton, who’s dead. Tanner is hired to take care of another bar, and gets to beat the crap out of Jake Busey and his gang of redneck drug dealers. As far as direct to DVD movies go, Road House 2 is a pretty decent little action movie, directed by Scott Ziehl.

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