You know, people recommend movies to me all the time. They got a pretty good idea what I’m into, and they got some movie they like, they figure I would like it too. And I’ve discovered some damn good ones this way. For example I still wouldn’t’ve picked up MR. MAJESTYK if it wasn’t for Jeff McCloud, I think was the first guy who told me about it.
Well I can’t remember who told me this one, ROADHOUSE. A film by Rowdy Herrington. Whoever recommend this must’ve been jerkin my chain, but that’s all right. I enjoyed this one, even though it is about Patrick Swayze is the world’s second greatest bouncer who is sent in to clean up a rough redneck bar, ends up having to kill Ben Gazarra. You know how it is.
I knew this was a good one pretty quick, because a couple minutes into the movie a woman stabs a guy in the hand with a pen, and as payback she gets kicked in the balls. There are alot of feet and knees crushing balls in this movie, but that’s normal. I’ve seen that before. A woman getting kicked in the balls though is not something I believe I’ve seen before. Until now.
I also noticed right off the bat, this movie is pretty spectacular in the bad dialogue department. I mean there are a bunch of doozies in this and they are so good that your brain can’t even contain all of them. A character will say something great and you make a mental note of it so you can try it at home, but then the next one is so good you forget the last one. So the only one I still remember is at the end of the movie, Swayze has broken into Ben Gazarra’s place and he’s in a room full of stuffed bears and deer heads and shit. And Gazarra comes in and says, “I see you found my trophy room. The only thing missing is your ass.”
I never knew this until I saw the movie, but apparently there are world famous bouncers. The very top of the line, legendary dudes, the Oliviers and the Michealangelos of throwing out drunks. A bar owner actually goes out in search of Swayze and pays him big bucks to fly somewhere out in the boonies and clean up the world’s roughest bar. I mean, this is a bar where all that happens is people fight. During the few moments when they calm down, they yell and throw bottles at the blind guitar player of the house band. So in a way this is kind of like those urban teacher movies where some white person has to go in and teach a bunch of rowdy gangsters how to study and respect their elders and crap. Only instead of bettering children’s lives and making the world a better place, all he does is make the bar go out of business by alienating all the clientele.
Actually Swayze is not even a bouncer, he is a “cooler,” which it turns out is the fucking manager. He watches all the other guys and then at the end he steps in to casually knock a knife out of a guy’s hand and break a table with his head or something. And probaly afterwards he gives somebody petty cash to go buy a new table (“remember to get a receipt” “I know, I know, I’ve done this a million times, Swayze”) but they don’t show that part. Anyway, Swayze is second best to his mentor Sam Elliot, who has long hair and goes shirtless, like an old man version of Swayze. That guy has a cool voice, I should look into having him play me in a movie. But not with that fucking Swayze hair. Anyway, the second best bouncer in the world, Patrick Swayze, goes around and everybody is amazed to actually be meeting him. They’ve heard all about him and his amazing throwing a drunk out of a bar skills.
And the movie goes into detail to show you what life is supposedly like for a bouncer. Like he has a Mercedes but he buys an old beater to drive to work, because he knows every night he’s gonna get his windows broken and his tires slashed. Not just by the patrons but by the bouncers and bartenders he fires for skimming the till or having “the wrong temperament.” He outrages everybody at the bar when he gives a big speech about how they have to “be nice.” Then he goes back to the humble house he’s subletting from an old hillbilly, sits on the porch shirtless and reads a book. It is mentioned later that he is a philosophy major. Also he does tai chi.
But don’t worry, there’s an action movie plot in here somewhere. See, it turns out one of the guys he fired is the son or nephew or something of Ben Gazarra, the rich thug who lives across the lake from him, drives around on 4-wheelers and laughs at him when he does his tai chi. And of course Gazarra is rich from muscling in on all the friendly down home mom and pop business owners who Swayze has struck up a friendship with. But everybody is too afraid to do anything.
Also, Swayze gets stabbed alot and he was careful to ask that the bar pay all his medical bills. So he falls for the doctor who stitches him up. They go on dates but she is intimidated by his rough lifestyle and tries to straighten him out. They have a Billy Jack and his wife style disagreement over the use of violence in solving problems.
I can’t remember, but I think Sam Elliot got killed. An homage to Ben Kenobi dying in “the new hope of star wars” I think.
I don’t know jack shit about Pat Swayze, but as you know I am one of North America’s top 2 or 3 Seagalogists. And in my expert opinion, this movie could’ve been a Steven Seagal movie. It has almost all of the major Seagal motifs: well liked expert badass trying to live humble life, fights in bars (lots of them), people flying through windows, awkward discussions of philosophy, backyard training sequences. Hell, the scene at the end where he breaks into Ben Gazarra’s mansion to get his revenge is almost interchangeable with the same scene in HARD TO KILL. Seagal falls in love with the nurse who treats him in HARD TO KILL too, so there’s another similarity. And I mean, tell me you can’t picture Seagal doing that scene where he’s in the backyward doing tai chi. Only thing is, unless this was one of his first 2 or 3 movies he definitely would’ve kept his shirt on. There are alot of shirtless scenes in ROADHOUSE actually, which might be why they had to ditch Seagal and settle for Swayze. If Seagal was in the movie the character would come off a little different, but the script would be almost exactly the same. They’d just have to add a line about his black ops background or how kicking a guy out of a bar is just like something he encountered when he was a Navy SEAL. Something like that.
In fact, further research reveals that the writer of this picture, David Lee Henry (sounds like a serial killer, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) also wrote Seagal’s OUT FOR JUSTICE. Ironically, OUT FOR JUSTICE is the best written Seagal picture, the one that seems like it could’ve even been respectable if it starred a more serious actor that could pull off a New York accent.
One thing that would be better if it was Seagal, the hair wouldn’t be so distracting. Say what you will about Seagal’s ponytail, at least it doesn’t date the movie. I watch some of these Van Damme and Swayze movies, I don’t even look at their faces, I’m too hypnotized by the fucking mullets. It’s amazing that we as a society once considered that shit acceptable. Seagal knew what he was doing, man. He was looking forward.
Look out for cameos. I noticed the wrestler Terry Funk, Tito Larriva from all the Robert Rodriguez movies, and the great Keith David (he gets his name in the credits but he gets about one line). Also I noticed on IMDB apparently Pat Tallman was in there, she’s the one from all the George Romero movies, who was so cool as Barbara in the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake.
Anyway if you enjoy ridiculous ’80s action movies, this one is pretty high on the list, mostly due to the oddity of Pat Swayze in a badass role. And I am proud to announce that MGM currently plans a direct to video sequel to ROADHOUSE. You heard it here first, folks. I don’t have anymore information unfortunately. I’m betting Swayze won’t do it so I’m hoping they will get a Jim Belushi or a Coolio type to continue his character’s adventures. Maybe Sam Elliot gives him guru advice in flashbacks or, better yet, as a ghost. Or we could even get a prequel where whoever the ’90s equivalent of a young Pat Swayze is would play him and he would meet Sam Elliot’s character for the first time (played by either Treat Williams or Ice-T). This way they could make it a period piece and keep the bad hair. On the other hand, MGM is the studio that gave us WILD THINGS 2, so this could be the same deal – just a half assed remake with different actors and character names. But I don’t know that for sure, it’s just speculation. We’re still allowed to dream.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.