Friday, 20 June 2008

Roadhouse 2

ROADHOUSE 2 (2006)

Directed by: Scott Ziehl
Screenplay: Miles Chapman and Jonathan Schaech & Richard Chizmar
Starring: Jonathan Schaech, Jake Busey & Will Patton

The original Roadhouse is a cult classic with Patrick Swayze at his ball busting best. A slick, sweaty guilty pleasure, Roadhouse provided oodles of knuckle dusting fights along with a healthy side order of 80s Hollywood cheese. The film has a special place in fans hearts and it was always a dubious prospect to make a sequel so many years on, especially without the involvement of Swayze. However, cinema snobs and hardcore fans of the original be damned, as Roadhouse 2 is a rootin' tootin' surprise. It may lack the bite of the original but for a direct-to-DVD sequel it’s a hell of a fight film.

Due to Swayze not reprising his role of bad ass bouncer Dalton all kinds of narrative contrivance is ushered in to give Dalton a son, Shane (Schaech) and a brother, Nate (Patton). Nate runs a tough joint down Louisiana way called the Black Pelican. A bunch of nasty drug runners led by Wild Bill (Busey) want in on Nate’s turf and try to take the Black Pelican from him by any means necessary. This puts Nate in the hospital leading Shane to come down South, run the bar and dish out a whole load of whoop ass. Throw in a spiky, tough blonde babe (Ellen Hollman), action movie legend Richard Norton as a very seedy bad guy and a ton of Southern sass and you’ve got a knuckle crunching direct-to-DVD action flick.

Uber fans of the original may balk at this low budget sequel and, yeah, it isn’t as good as the original but it is a fair slice of entertainment nevertheless. The plot is a bit all over the place with some ridiculous twists and turns just to give Schaech’s character a reason for revenge. The great Richard Norton (Shanghai Express) isn’t on screen nearly enough but does get one decent fight and Jake Busey overacts out the wazoo. Though, admittedly, he does provide some nice comic relief. But on the whole Roadhouse 2 is a decent meat and potatoes action flick. Schaech ain’t bad as the new bouncer on the block and Ellen Hollman is great as his possible love interest. Kudos to the filmmakers for not making her the unfortunate damsel in distress, as she kicks as much butt as the boys.

It’s the fights scenes that elevate Roadhouse 2 form the usual quickie direct-to-DVD sequel cash in. Choreographed by JJ Perry (Undisputed 2, the upcoming Wolverine) they are clean, crisp and efficiently brutal. No shaky cam, no intricate Hong Kong style moves and no (praise the lord) over editing. Just brisk and brutal fights with some awesome moves, blocks and takedowns. As mentioned Norton’s fight is good, there is a very brutal catfight between the leading ladies and Schaech’s and Busey’s final confrontation is awesome.

Leave expectations at the door, re-watch the first Roadhouse to get in the mood but don’t go expecting this film to match it, and enjoy the fast fight thrills Roadhouse 2 packs. Really not bad for an American produced fight flick.

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