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Weekend Watch: There's only one 'Road House'

Weekend Watch: There's only one 'Road House'

Swayze cleans up the town with unselfconscious conviction; Hardy and Edgerton leave it all in the ring in underrated "Warrior."

"Pain don't hurt."

"Be nice until it's time not to be nice."

"Nobody ever wins a fight."

If you're a man of a certain age, you know these maxims — hard-fought wisdom from a warrior-poet in a mullet — by heart.

It would be a stretch to say that 1989's "Road House" is an overlooked classic. Rowdy Herrington's what-if-Shane-were-a-bouncer modern-day Western is just as goofy now as it always was. But the passing of years has made it more precious.

Patrick Swayze, then one of the biggest stars in the world, plays James Dalton, NYU philosophy student ("Man's search for faith. That sort of s**t") and the best "cooler" in the business. He heads into a Missouri backwater town to clean up violent honkytonk the Double Deuce; the local criminal element (headed by a magnificent Ben Gazarra) objects.

By today's standards, Dalton is a pretty flimsy protagonist for a would-be blockbuster. He seems better suited for one of those sad indie character studies of self-delusion and wasted potential. But Swayze takes Dalton's calling seriously; and by extension, he takes seriously the lives of the people in this backwater flyover state.

Swayze also fully commits to his climactic brawl with head goon Jimmy Reno, played by Marshall Teague. According to Teague, the star approached him before the scene and asked to do it for real: "Let's not cheat the audience for a change. Let's bring it ... What do you say — let's just rock 'n' roll?"

"Road House" is all very funny and eminently rewatchable, but it's also a bittersweet reminder of a different America. If you were wondering about Amazon's new remake, it swaps the Midwest for the Florida Keys and beer-bellied henchman for the oiled-up, tattooed torso of Conor McGregor. That's about all you need to know.

"Road House" (1989) is currently streaming on Max and Amazon Prime.


This three-minute clip should be all it takes to determine whether you'll enjoy the criminally underrated 2011 movie "Warrior." It depicts the movie in microcosm: courage bordering on recklessness; tense jockeying for status; gritty, realistic fight scenes; and an underdog to root for.

Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy play estranged brothers. They're also estranged from their father, a recovering alcoholic played with all the grizzled majesty of late-period Nick Nolte. The brothers end up entering the same high-stakes MMA tournament, and we'll leave it at that.

Suffice it to say that "Warrior" is a visceral and compelling portrait of troubled men working out their “issues” the best way they know how: by pounding the crap out of each other.

"Warrior" is currently streaming on Netflix, YouTube, and Plex, among other platforms.

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