Ours is an era in which PG-13 movies dominate Hollywood, so it’s a breath of fresh air to re-watch an unapologetically R-rated action flick like Rowdy Herrington’s 1989 classic of sorts, Road House, which has just been released to DVD in a deluxe edition that highlights all the gratuitous sex, violence and Swayze that turned the film into a cult classic and basic-cable staple.
The irreplaceable Patrick Swayze stars as Zen bouncer James Dalton, “the best damn cooler in the business” and a New York University philosophy grad whose studies focused on “man’s search for faith—that sort of shit.” He’s summoned to clean up a rowdy joint in Jasper, Mo., a small town outside of Kansas City that somehow manages to support a thriving biker-bar economy.
Herrington’s film is essentially a B-Western transplant, made profound by the outsized lunacy of its presentation. Road House assembles many brilliantly brainless moments (Dalton’s graceful sauté off the second floor of a barn is a personal favorite) and lines (including Ben Gazzara’s loaded threat: “I see you found my trophy room, Dalton … the only thing missing is your ass”), with enough homoerotic subtext to make Top Gun look subtle by comparison.
Road House has already been released on DVD, but the remastered print and mixed bag of extras should be enough to warrant a second purchase. The extras include an informative commentary from Herrington and an utterly pointless one from Kevin Smith. There’s also an entertaining featurette in which a self-serious Swayze and other principals wax rhapsodic about their achievement as though they’d made Rashomon, plus a short documentary that spotlights real-life bouncers and a sneak peek at the Swayze-less, straight-to-video Road House 2: Last Call, which stars Johnathon Schaech (who also replaced Nic Cage in 8MM 2) as the son of Dalton.