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Road House 2

Calling Road House 2 (2006) the best direct-to-video sequel ever is like handing out a gold medal at an ugly contest. Then again, the entire genre of direct-to-video filmmaking is an American wasteland. Outside of John Dahl (whose Red Rock West premiered on cable, then went to theaters and then to video), few titles have succeeded stateside without theatrical distribution. And it's sort of shame — young directors used to be able to test their wares in the B-markets (usually for Roger Corman), whereas now they often practice with commercials or music videos and then sink or swim with their first theatrical release. Compare this to Japan, where some of the most prominent genre filmmakers (like Kyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Miike) learned their craft by making crap on video and then graduated to the big screen. It's hard to imagine that Road House 2's director, Scott Ziehl, will graduate to bigger and better, but at least his movie is entertainingly cheesy — though not nearly as much as the original Road House (1989). The film stars Jonathan Schaech (who also co-wrote the screenplay, natch) as Dalton Tanner's son Shane, who works for the DEA and is brought back to Louisiana when nasty drug dealer Wild Bill (Jake Busey) puts a hurtin' on his uncle Nate (Will Patton). Once back, he has to watch his uncle's bar, The Black Armadillo, and be the new "cooler" (aka head bouncer). Of course, Bill doesn't truck with Shane, and neither does Bill's overseer Victor Crost (Richard Norton). And what would a Road House movie be without a somewhat inappropriate love interest in grade-school teacher Beau (Ellen Hollman)? The DTV-sequel genre (a spin-off of the DTV genre) can usually only be counted on for competency and taking the best beats from the scripts' predecessors (done at wholesale budgets) and recycling them to diminishing returns. Road House 2 is no exception, and while it cannot compete with the brilliant lunkheadedness of the original, at least it delivers on the initial premise enough to be more entertaining than the majority of its ilk. Perhaps because the modern action movie relies so heavily on CGI and little on fist-to-face contact, seeing a couple of decent bar brawls is enough of a rarity to make the first hour palatable (though it grows redundant by the end), but at a brief 86 minutes, it's almost over before it wears out its welcome. It also manages to get (as the first film did) some very gratuitous T&A on screen. It's not much of a movie, but it works best under the old bar adage "If they're a two at ten, they're a ten at two." Sony's DVD release presents Road House 2 in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Previews, keep-case.

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