I’m Andy, one of the newest members of the Place To Be Nation, and I’d like to welcome you to my new column, Squared Circle Cinema. I’ll be taking a look at movies produced by WWE Films, and also movies which star professional wrestlers. I feel like I almost blew that format right off the bat since I chose Road House because Terry Funk had a role, but it turns out his screen time amounted to about ten minutes. That was ten minutes of brawling, so I think we’re good. Of the few lines spoken by Terry, he called someone “dad”, which struck me as odd because the “middle-aged and crazy” Terry Funk has always seemed old to me. I was really hoping he’d have given someone a piledriver through a table, too.
This is my first time viewing Road House and it instantly dawned on me that the plot is basically what would happen if you took the TV series Bar Rescue and turned it into an action movie starring Patrick Swayze. Road House was released in 1989, at the height of Swayze’s power (and mullet), which would likely mean it was filmed just before Terry Funk made his comeback to wrestling at Wrestle War of that year. Watching Swayze deliver roundhouse kicks, my mind drifted to dreaming about “what if” he had made an appearance at a WrestleMania. I believe with his swagger and likability, I could’ve bought into Swayze mixing it up with the wrestlers and taking out someone like Dino Bravo with a roundhouse kick.
Back to the movie, Swayze’s character “Dalton” is hired to clean up a bar called The Double Deuce by a familiar face of movies and television — Kevin Tighe. I recognized him as being Locke’s dad on Lost, so I thought for sure he’d turn out to be a sleazy owner that acts as the villain to Swayze’s hero. That’s not the case, as the villain is “Brad Wesley”, played by Ben Gazzara. Sam Elliot is a recognizable face in the cast as Dalton’s mentor, “Wade Garrett.” I was hoping there would be more wrestlers making appearances as thugs or patrons at The Double Deuce. I also got excited when I read Keith David was in the cast, who happens to be in a couple of my favorite movies, The Thing and They Live (which I’m sure I’ll review down the line.) Turns out he was just in a quick scene as a bartender once The Double Deuce gets a make-over. Bummer.
As Dalton cleans up the bar and even rids The Double Deuce of some of its own staff, he finds himself pitted against Wesley, who’s been extorting money from every business in town. Not only does he take their money, but he also smashes one of the businesses with a monster truck, then later creepily watches Swayze and his lady make love from across the lake. What a heel. As the movie progressed, it felt more like a modern spin on the Western genre, with Swayze filling the role of the gunslinger that drives the evil gang out of the town. Along with the brawls, the movie is packed with rock music and plenty of one-liners. My favorite one comes from the ending of the movie, when Dalton is taking out the gang members one by one. He knocks a giant taxidermied polar bear onto a chubby thug in suspenders. The thug later says, “A polar bear fell on me.” …Guess you had to be there.
I’d recommend Road House as a fun action movie, and it’s interesting to note just how loaded 1989 was in terms of movies. There was the Batman movie with Michael Keaton, along with blockbuster sequels from Lethal Weapon, Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Back To The Future, James Bond, and Ghostbusters. Add that to the notable wrestling feuds between Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair, then later Flair and Terry Funk, as well as the Mega Powers exploding, and you’ve got a great year to close out the 1980’s.
Road House Tally
Wrestler Count- 1. Terry Funk
Boots loaded with a foreign object- Yes!
Monster Truck destruction!
Roundhouse Kicks- Off the charts