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Road House

Road House

The 1989 cult classic, starring the late Patrick Swayze as the bouncer Dalton, has been remade and we're relatively pleased with this updated version.

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The 1989 action film starring a philosophy-studying, hard-headed and recently deceased Patrick Swayze is a cult classic. An iconic but crap film drenched in tired clichés, silly characters and super ridiculous fight choreography. Yet... I love it, as did many. Road House (1989) is one of my favourite films from my childhood and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say I've seen it 30 times over the years. I love the premise, that a short and thin jazz dancer beats up an entire community and single-handedly, without weapons or tools, grinds down a crime syndicate and kills everyone, before returning, bloodied and tired, to making love to his private nurse paramour. Road House is fundamentally a bad film, 80s rubbish, and I still love it deeply, passionately and forever.

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When The Bourne Identity/Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman announced that he and producer Joel Silver (Die Hard, The Matrix, Lethal Weapon, The Predator) were planning a reboot of Road House starring former UFC star (now WWE superstar) Ronda Rousey, I was less inclined to be excited, but when the plans changed and Jake Gyllenhaal signed on for the role of Dalton, I went from super sceptical to quite excited. Now Road House (2024) is here, and it is undoubtedly the most violent action film of the year so far. Forget Swayze's slow-paced dance-fighting and waist-level roundhouse kicks.... We're talking fast-paced ultra-violence in the form of broken limbs and blood-splattered noses on a regular basis, and while this film is unlikely to win any awards - it's pleasantly brain-dead, thrilling entertainment.

Road House
Cinematographer Henry Braham (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Flash) does a brilliant job of creating pace, momentum and weight in the fights, where the camera perspective shifts from full shots to close-ups, motion photography and pure FPS views.
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The story is basically the same, although some changes have of course been made. Dalton is not a philosophy student dancer who goes from nightclub to nightclub simply to train bouncers and "clean up" the area where the bars are located. That premise belongs to the 80s. Instead, Gyllenhaal's Dalton is a scruffy, lost, troubled former UFC fighter who, during his MMA career and during a title fight for the middleweight belt in the world's largest mixed martial arts organisation, beat his opponent to death and was thus suspended from the sport forever. The Dalton we meet in the opening minutes is lethargic and suicidal, and when he is offered the chance to travel by bus to the Florida Keys to help clean up a roadside diner, he sees it as his last trip.

Once there, it soon becomes clear that, just like in the original, there is a financial interest in the land on which the bar in question stands, and it is also here where a stormy crime boss who, via droves of hired thugs, scares the shit out of the locals to get what he wants. No one dares to resist, everyone does as they are told and the police are of course corrupt enough to look the other way. The only existing hope that bar owner Frankie now has is the retired fighter Dalton, who through his calm and methodical manner does an initially effective job of cleaning up the joint. A lot of punches are handed out. Many arms, wrists and fingers are broken and blood spurts from mouths, ears and nostrils and it quickly becomes very entertaining. In that old, effortlessly stupid, charming way where there is a self-awareness and a certain amount of irony, so that I as a viewer really relax and just let myself be entertained.

Doug Liman has here mixed the original film with Into the Blue, a bit of Equalizer, a bit of Nobody and a bit of Warrior, which in the end results in a film drenched in character that never hides the fact that it is stupid, typical, predictable and violent in a way that makes me as an 80s lover - happy and satisfied. Gyllenhaal, as always, does a great job as Dalton, whose life lacks meaning and motivation and who lets the violence within him take over, while Conor McGregor (making his acting debut) stands out as the star of the film. Conor certainly plays a one-dimensional psychopath who is hired to kill Dalton, but he does so with charisma and charisma that I wouldn't have expected, and it makes every scene he's in a pure delight.

Road House
Gyllenhaal is always good. Including here.
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I miss a couple of things though. Things that were in the original that Liman & Silver absolutely did not have to remove. I don't quite understand why the "Road House" bar couldn't be renovated after Dalton's initial work and renamed The Double Deuce, just to appease the fans. I also don't quite understand why Conor's character isn't better connected to the other villains, and I don't understand why Dalton's best friend Wade (who comes to The Double Deuce in the original to help out) isn't included. Minus that, I have no complaints here. Road House (2024) is by no means any kind of masterpiece and in many ways it is almost dumber than the original. That said, I had fun watching it and for me as a big MMA and McGregor fan, it's easy to like this enough to recommend it.

06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
overall score
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Road House

Road House

MOVIE REVIEW. Written by Petter Hegevall

The 1989 cult classic, starring the late Patrick Swayze as the bouncer Dalton, has been remade and we're relatively pleased with this updated version.



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