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Everyone walked out of Road House into the sunlight feeling stunned, stupid, a little gay for Patrick Swayze, and wondering idly why they ever thought Duran Duran was a good band. In one day, the 80s were over. Women's hairdos started to make sense once again. Spandex was abolished. The New Kids and Wham! were purged from our cultural memory.
Dalton (Swayze) is a professional "cooler" (read: bouncer) with a mysterious past who is hired to work for the Double Deuce in Jasper, Missouri. In the course of cleaning up the seedy roadside bar, he runs afoul of crime kingpin Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) who is extorting from the townspeople. A generous helping of Barfight Fu ensues.
Road House is rated a camp classic not because of its quality, but because it is one of the most implausible films of all time. Much of this is traced to Swayze's character, a modern-day samurai with a degree in philosophy who practices Tai Chi and walks around in shirts that resemble a Gi. A direct-to-DVD sequel, Road House 2: Last Call, was released in 2006 and replaced Dalton with his hitherto unknown son, Shane.
- Alternate DVD Commentary: Road House has the honor of being the inaugural subject for Riff Trax. This movie is Mike Nelson's personal benchmark for So Bad It's Good movies.
- Alternately, there's a 'Trivia Track' on some versions of the DVD.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Dalton.
- Badass: Dalton
- Badass Creed: Dalton scatters these around like confetti.
"All you have to do is follow three simple rules: One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three, be nice."
- Until it's time to not be nice.
- And no one will ever forget this immortal quote:
Dalton: Pain don't hurt.
- Badass Grandpa: Wade Garrett.
- Bad Boss: Brad Wesley
- Beware the Nice Ones: For someone who can (and does) rip someone's throat out with his bare hands, Dalton is actually a really nice guy. A good example is when he pays the owner of a restaurant to allow a homeless guy to sleep there for the rest of the night.
- He also encourages politeness among the other bouncers working under them telling them "Be nice! It's nothing personal."
- Card-Carrying Villain: Brad Wesley
- Cool Car
- Cool Shades: Wade makes his entrance wearing Ray-Bans.
- Corrupt Hick: There's a no-gooder trying to take over the bar and businesses in a little backwater town with his hired redneck muscle.
- Creative Closing Credits: The Jeff Healey Band play the bar's resident band, and perform "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky" on screen behind the entire end credit roll.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dalton
- Death by Looking Up: Wesley's sole surviving mook gets conked out by a stuffed polar bear which topples. Rather than step out of the way, he screams and fires his gun at it. (He doesn't actually die, though.)
- Depraved Homosexual: Jimmy. His famous quote says all.
- The Dragon: Jimmy.
- The Drifter
- The Eighties
- Eighties Hair: Includes a mullet for Dalton.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Wesley's goon sets a speeding car on fire with a single shotgun blast. And by "fire", I mean a fireball that can be seen from space.
- Evil Counterpart: Jimmy to Dalton. The only thing they have in common is the martial arts knowledge.
- Evil Laugh
- Expecting Someone Taller: In the tradition of John Carpenter, everybody who's ever heard of Dalton expects him to "be bigger".
- Fan Disservice: Sam Elliot's pubes. Thanks for making me never look at him the same way again, movie.
- Fan Service: Want to see the bare butts of Patrick Swayze and Kelly Lynch? You've come to the right place. (Also, lots of barely-dressed ladies in the bar.)
- Faux Affably Evil: Westley.
- Freudian Slip: Wade Garrett's mispronunciation of "Double Deuce".
- Friendly Target: Wade Garrett, whose murder sets off Dalton on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Wesley.
- Genius Bruiser: Dalton
- Heroic Second Wind: Dalton's fight with Jimmy.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Morgan, the previous cooler of the roadhouse, is played by legendary professional wrestler (and WWE Hall of Famer) Terry Funk.
- If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him
- Innocent Bystanders
- I Own This Town: Wesley.
- Ironic Echo: "This is OUR town, and don't YOU forget it".
- Karmic Death: Wesley at the end gets killed by the same men he terrorized and extorted over the years.
- Large Ham: Westley and Jimmy.
- Local Hangout: The Double Deuce
- Manipulative Bastard: Brad Wesley.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Wade Garret.
- Mr. Exposition
- Ms. Fanservice: Denise, Wesley's girlfriend.
- Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: Jimmy, The Dragon, does not have the chance to kill Dalton "the old fashion way" with his gun. Later, Dalton disarms a knife-welding mook and skewers him.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Due to the overwhelming success of Dirty Dancing, which also starred Patrick Swayze, a lot of trailers targeted women audiences. One wonders how stunned they were when they saw Swayze tear a guy's trachea out with his bare hands.
- New Old West: The genesis of the movie was a modern interpretation of Shane.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Brad is blasted at point-blank range by 4 different shotguns (wielded by the 4 businessmen Brad harassed throughout the film.) Then he falls through a glass table. They tell Dalton to escape while they tell the police
- Warrior Therapist: Dalton tries really hard to be this, with mixed results.