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Road House: Deluxe Edition

Dripping with more testosterone than the entire oeuvre of Michael Bay, Rowdy Herrington's Road House (1989) is a film pitched to the inner-shitkicker in all of us, reveling in professionally lensed Good Ol' Boy excess while telling the story of Dalton (Patrick Swayze), the manly, mulleted Michael Jordan of bouncers. Lured away from his comfortable perch at an upscale urban bar by a newly wealthy club owner, Dalton accepts a deal to become the head "cooler" at a rough, rural Texas honky-tonk known as the "Double Deuce," the kind of place where, as one character puts it, "They sweep up the eyeballs after closing." For most sane individuals, no amount of money would suffice as recompense for attempting to tame the Deuce's clientele, but for the Zen-like Dalton — a guy calm and centered enough to stitch up his own knife wounds without the aid of anesthetic — challenges such as these are, apparently, the primal calling of the trade. His reputation preceding him (including the rumors of having once ripped a rival combatant's throat out), Dalton quickly distinguishes himself through his philosophical approach to the craft of cooling, extolling the virtue "Be nice... until it's time to not be nice." But Dalton soon runs afoul of the local criminal kingpin, Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who has been unsuccessfully shaking down the Deuce's recalcitrant owner for kickbacks. Enraged by this defiance, and the joint-snapping efficacy with which Dalton dispatches his best henchmen, Wesley begins making a concerted effort to destroy the Deuce, cutting off its liquor supply and ordering his goons to tear the place apart night after night. This forces Dalton to call in the cooler cavalry in the form of his former mentor, a legendary bouncer known as Wade Garrett (Sam Elliot, who must've been an hour or two greasing up in the trailer every day before stepping in front of the cameras). As the battle for the Deuce rages, Dalton inadvertently throws more lighter fluid on the barbecue by falling in love with a comely young doctor, Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch), who also happens to be a failed conquest of Wesley's. It's just one kick to the groin in a film filled with 'em, and few cinematic exercises in empty-headed machismo have ever been so brazenly satisfying. With the right group of friends and enough beer, Road House provides all the fun of a rowdy night out at a dive bar sans the ever-impending fear of having one's nose broken. Credit Herrington's unfussy direction and a quip-heavy script penned by David Lee Henry and Hilary Henkin (yes, a woman was in on this nonsense, too) for making this dubious endeavor sing, not to mention the game performances from Swayze, Elliott and, in particular, Gazzarra, who tears into his villainous role like a starved mutt stripping a t-bone out back of a Sizzler. Sony/MGM presents the second DVD release of Road House as a "Deluxe Edition" with a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a commentary by director Rowdy Herrington, a yack-track from Clerks director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Moiser, and a trivia track, the featurettes "On the Road House" with Swayze, Lynch and Herrington (17 min.), "Sneak Peak: Road House 2: Last Call" (5 min.), and the bouncer-specific "What Would Dalton Do?" (12 min.). Bonus trailers, keep-case.
— Clarence Beaks/DSH

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