Road House (2024)

The rules of a remake aren’t as set in stone as those of a bouncer’s line of work – the latter helpfully laid out in the 1989 action cult classic “Road House” – but rest assured, Doug Liman’s contemporary re-imagining of “Road House” knows the do’s and don’ts of remakes inside and out.

Packed with the same blast of adrenaline, testosterone, camp, and fun as its Patrick Swayze-led namesake, the new “Road House” is a fully worthy modern successor to the legacy of the original.

With a career peak performance by Jake Gyllenhaal and outstanding martial arts fights, “Road House” manages to rise to the same greatness of the original while creating an entirely new journey for Dalton to allow the two movies to stand kinda as equals.



Jake Gyllenhaal plays the movie’s bouncer protagonist Elwood Dalton, with UFC fighter Conor McGregor making his film debut as the movie’s very animated heavy, Knox.

Daniela Melchior also portrays Dalton’s romantic interest Ellie, with Jessica Williams playing Frankie, and Billy Magnussen as the villainous Ben Brandt.

Additionally, Kevin Carroll plays local bookstore owner Stephen, with Hannah Lanier playing his daughter Charlie and Joaquim de Almeidia playing the local Sheriff.


Elwood Dalton was once among the most promising MMA fighters in the world, but his UFC career is long since behind him with Dalton falling on hard times and living in his car.

However, Dalton’s legendary reputation as a fighter catches the attention of Frankie, who offers Dalton the job of head bouncer at her road house – called simply “The Road House” – in the Florida Keys.

Dalton’s skills soon help stabilize the once out-of-control establishment, but this also catches the eye of the Florida Keys’ shady business magnate and property developer Ben Brandt.

Frankie continues to turn down Brandt’s efforts to buy out the Road House, with her property being the last thing standing in the way of Brandt having a complete stranglehold over the Florida Keys.

Before long, Dalton finds himself battling all of Brandt’s henchmen in an out-and-out war, with Brandt’s unhinged right-hand man Knox leading the charge and giving Dalton a run for his money with his own punishing fighting skills.


“Road House” is a Remake that Tells its Own Story

From the jump, “Road House” is a near-perfect example of a remake that both captures the essence of its predecessor and presents something completely new simultaneously.

When we first meet Jake Gyllenhaal’s Dalton, he’s every bit the legend in the MMA world that Patrick Swayze’s was in the bouncer subculture, a man who can terrify his opponent into forfeiting their underground match simply by removing his pre-fight cloak and calmly sitting in his corner.

And yet “Road House” adopts a much more somber tone for its introduction of Dalton and his recruitment to clean up Frankie’s Road House.

While “Road House” still rides high on the campy, fun tone of the original, the movie feels different because of just how re-invented Dalton himself is.

Patrick Swayze’s Dalton embodied a yin-yang balance of raw power and Zen-like calm. Before he ever throws a single punch in the original “Road House”, Swayze’s Dalton breathes the confidence of an Old West gunslinger and the centered enlightenment of a Shaolin monk.

With a protagonist like Dalton plugged into a quintessentially macho ‘80s action movie aura, director Doug Liman and screenwriters Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry clearly recognize the original “Road House”, while an enduring cult classic, is still very much a product of its time, and wisely don’t even try to recreate that very specific lightning in a bottle.

For both iterations of “Road House”, it all goes back to the characterization of Dalton himself, and Gyllenhaal’s bouncer protagonist offers a new take on Dalton in the best way possible.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Phenomenal as Dalton!

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Dalton enters “Road House” a man broken in mind and spirit over the tragic way his MMA career ended, one that reworks the guilt Swayze’s Dalton dealt with from his own past incident.

“Road House” stops just an inch away from confirming outright just how badly Dalton’s last UFC fight ended, with the movie and Gyllenhaal focusing on how it has impacted Dalton personally to make him a man deathly frightened by his own fighting ability.

Compared to Swayze’s portrayal of Dalton as a cool-but-mindful fighter with a threshold of how far he can be pushed, Gyllenhaal embodies a Dalton who went too far once and will do almost anything to avoid losing his temper ever again.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s always had great range as an actor, and his performance as Dalton is every bit as captivating as Swayze’s while being wholly different.

With the guilt of his past still haunting him, Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is a lost, apathetic loner who falls into bouncing purely by accident and is only prepared to tip-toe up to using the bare minimum amount of force that his new job calls upon him to.

Indeed, the first big action scene of “Road House” drives home that Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is concerned as much with his opponent’s well-being as anyone else’s. That is, until the movie demands that he take the gloves off, and even then, “Road House” still delivers something completely distinct from the original in its bar-brawling fight scenes.

“Road House” Brings a New Breed of Bouncer to MMA Action

The “Road House” remake packs a punch and then some in its intricate and powerful fight scenes, but sharp fight choreography is only half the story.

“Road House” actually takes things a step further past the testosterone of the original and directly ties the tempo of its fight scenes to Dalton’s character arc and state-of-mind.

In his first night on the job at Frankie’s Road House, Dalton goes out of his way to be as gentle as he possibly can with a gang of unruly patrons who have been regularly causing the establishment trouble, electing to strike each of them with an open hand and only using a closed fist and joint locks as a last resort.

“Road House” gradually increases the temperature of Dalton’s fight scenes as the movie progresses, placing him into situations where elevated levels of force become more and more necessary, but the movie also shows a keen understanding that its hero is a fighting machine who explicitly DOESN’T want to fight.

Garrett Warren and Steve Brown’s Fight Choreography

This approach on the part of Garrett Warren and Steve Brown’s fight choreography makes the fight scenes of “Road House” surprisingly layered as much as they are viscerally exhilarating, the remake having clearly internalized Dalton’s well-known rule of being nice until it’s time to not be nice.

Even better, “Road House” also brings in a villain with the complete opposite perspective to Dalton in Conor McGregor’s hired heavy, Knox.

McGregor’s famously animated persona in the Octagon makes him a fitting martial arts movie antagonist, and he’s clearly having the time of his life making Knox into Dalton’s evil twin.

Once Knox enters the picture, the action of “Road House” reaches its peak of intensity and the apex of the emotional barometer of its action is predicated upon, with Dalton forced to set his pacifism aside to battle an absolute Looney Tune of violence.

Like the gripping rivalry of Patrick Swayze’s Dalton and Marshall Teague’s Jimmy in the original “Road House”, the “Road House” remake delivers two superb brawls between its two main martial artists, and breaks out its most unexpected tool to spice these battles up even more.

The Camerawork of “Road House” Ups the Ante of its Action Scenes – including the Finale

Hardly content to simply deliver fittingly flashy and punishing fight scenes, “Road House” adds some literal flash to many its bar-room brawls with fast, sweeping camera work that alternately tracks the fight scenes from every angle and brings the viewer into the center of them.

An added element of this is the movie’s use of POV shots to show Dalton or Knox’s perspective on their opponent throwing strikes their way, putting the viewer right in the shoes of a fighter in the heat of a bare-knuckle MMA smackdown.

“Road House” steps this up to its zenith in Dalton’s fights with Knox, both of which will surely rate among the best action scenes of 2024, and their final showdown a “Flash Point”-worthy battle of MMA warriors – and one that, if the closing moments of “Road House” are any indication, might just be round one for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Dalton.


Walking onto Amazon Prime with the shadow of the ultimate bar fighting action classic hovering over it, the new “Road House” is a remake that thoroughly earns its medal as one of 2024’s best action movies and a reverential tribute to the world’s greatest bouncer.

The camera trickery on the fight scenes of “Road House” turn each brawl into a gripping, sinewy rollercoaster, while Jake Gyllenhaal’s performances as a re-imagined Dalton completely re-invents the character for a new generation.

In a world where remakes and reboots still find ways to struggle to stand on their own, Doug Liman’s “Road House” stands side-by-side with the original as a “Fist of Fury”-“Fist of Legend”-level double bill, with the remake recounting the saga of the best bouncer in the business with equal aplomb as its predecessor!

Favorite Quotes

  • “No, I just broke his arm.” –Dalton (after an emergency room nurse asks if a patient is his friend.)
  • “No one ever wins a fight.” –Dalton (to Ellie in the E.R. – this line is pulled directly from the E.R. scene in the original “Road House”.)
Road House (2024) remake - KUNG FU KINGDOM

Road House (2024) remake – KUNG FU KINGDOM


  • Early in the development of the “Road House” remake, the movie was set to be anchored by a female version of Dalton, with former UFC fighter, Ronda Rousey in the role.
  • The movie was partially filmed at UFC 285, held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on March 3, 2023, specifically Dalton’s weigh-in scene against his UFC opponent in the film, played by real-life UFC fighter Jake Hieron. The scene of Dalton leaving the fight was also filmed during a break between fights at the event.
  • Garrett Warren served as second unit director and stunt coordinator on “Road House”. Some of his past movies as stunt man, stunt coordinator, fight choreographer, and second-unit director include “Starship Troopers”, the Sammo Hung-led TV series “Martial Law”, “The One”, “Immortals”, “The Rundown”, “Ready Player One”, “Logan”, and James Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise. Check out KFK’s in-depth interview with Garrett Warren on his career and work as stunt coordinator on 2019’s “Alita: Battle Angel”!
  • Steve Brown served as the fight coordinator for “Road House”. Some of his other credits in stunts and fight choreography include “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, “Logan”, “Wonder Woman”, “Bullet Train”, “The Mandalorian”, “Alita: Battle Angel”, and “Avatar: The Way of Water”.
  • Conor McGregor was previously attached to make his movie debut in the 2017 action movie “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”, though the role was ultimately assumed by his fellow MMA fighter Michael Bisping.

Film Rating 8.5/10

“Road House” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime!

Have you seen the “Road House” remake yet? How does it stack up against the Swayze original? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Brad Curran

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

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