New on Blu-ray from Shout Select is the Patrick Swayze starring actioner Road House, with a new 2K scan that was supervised and approved by the director of photography Dean Cundey. This is a veritable classic amongst modern action cinema, which is underappreciated and deserves the same type of recognition that the likes of Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and Beverly Hills Cop receive. I believe that it doesn’t get as much praise as the others listed because Swayze’s character isn’t as comedic as Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, and Eddie Murphy. While Swayze may be more collected and serious in this film, it more than delivers with an interesting cast, a great score, some excellent fight scenes, several big explosions, and a memorable monster truck sequence.
In case you’re not aware of the story, Swayze plays what’s called a Cooler, which is someone who comes in and fixes a troubled bar in order to make it successful. He ends up in a town that is basically owned and controlled by one rich man and things go bad from there. The screenplay was written by R. Lance Hill, who also wrote the screenplays for the Charles Bronson led The Evil That Men Do and Out for Justice starring Steven Seagal. The script has decent dialogue and is funny at times, usually directed at specific situations or other people besides Swayze. Some reviews have blasted the concept and its depiction of vigilante justice, but it really is no different than many other pictures in the genre.
It was directed by Rowdy Herrington, who only ended up with eight feature length movies credited to his career. It is an eclectic mix of genres, which includes working with James Spader on three separate occasions. The cinematographer was Dean Cundey, whose resume during the 1970’s and 1980’s is pretty impressive. He worked on a series of cult films during the 1970’s, six John Carpenter movies, The Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Jurassic Park. The camera work is done well on this; they do some quality tracking shots, several crane shots, and tend to leave the camera running longer as opposed to constant editing. The fight scenes are all filmed perfectly, trying not to cut away and highly edit the action sequences.The unsung hero in the fight sequences is Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, who served as the martial arts technical adviser and helped train the principal actors and perform some of the stunts. Benny is a former professional kickboxing champion who holds nine black belts in different disciplines. He is best known for being involved in one of Jackie Chan’s best fights in Wheels on Meals (1984) and also Dragons Forever (1988). Urquidez is so fast with his kicks, that he was able to put out a row of candles from the airflow of his kick. He trained Swayze, Elliott, and Teague to have specific fighting styles that corresponded to the type of animal that would best represent their normal movements, with Swayze embodying the style of a cat and Elliott that of a bear. This training created several unique and impressive fights.
The score and soundtrack have to be mentioned. The score was composed by Michael Kamen, whose first major credit involved writing and performing several songs for John Water’s Polyester (1981). Kamen would go on to become a well known composer for some big productions; including the Lethal Weapon series, the Die Hard series, Robin Hood, The Highlander, and so many more. You can hear the similarities between this score and Lethal Weapon’s, with either one easily being swapped into the other. The bands that perform include Jeff Healey and The Cruzados, with half of the latter band appearing in Desperado and From Dusk Til Dawn. The music played is a superb collection of blues and classic rock.
|I love homoerotic Tai Chi and roundhouse kicks!|
It was considered a box office failure and surprisingly received five Razzie nominations for being one of the worst motion pictures of 1989. Roger Ebert said that it “exists right on the edge between the 'good-bad movie' and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it, because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer. This is not a good movie. But viewed in the right frame of mind, it is not a boring one, either”
Over time, it has received some additional praise and been described as being
underappreciated. It has everything that was great about the 1980’s; big hair,
big tits, big colors, big effects, big fights, and big entertainment.
Peter Griffin says Roadhouse this review!
"rogerebert.com," rogerebert.com, 5 9 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/road-house-1989. [Accessed 5 9 2016].