WFTB Score: 5/20
The plot: DEA officer Shane Tanner is called down to Louisiana to look after the Black Pelican when gangsters put his uncle in hospital. Refusing to buckle under heavy pressure to sell up, Shane attempts to get to the bottom of who is the Kingpin, whether they had anything to do with his father’s violent death, and why the local police are doing nothing to clean up the town.
Viewed on the basis that this was on on a quiet Friday night, and the original Road House was a bit of trashy fun, I am reviewing Road House 2 merely to serve as a warning that sometimes sequels don’t happen for a very good reason. This sequel appeared seventeen years after the Patrick Swayze original, and therefore predictably does not follow on from the first film so much as repeat some tropes from it with a number of B-movie actors taking the place of Swayze, Ben Gazzara and Kelly Lynch (not exactly, ‘scuse me for saying so, Holllywood Titans themselves).
The set-up of Last Call is fairly similar to Road House. Shane Tanner (Jonathan Scaech), presumed son of legendary bouncer Dalton, comes to the assistance of his Uncle Nate (Will Patton), badly beaten owner of the Black Pelican bar situated in the steamy bayous of Louisiana. The bar is the target of bad guy ‘Wild Bill’ (Jake Busey) who sees it as an ideal place for drug running under the auspices of big boss Victor Crost (Richard Norton). The added spice in this story is provided by the fact that Shane is a Drugs Enforcement Agency Officer, he’s after revenge for his father’s killer; oh, and he’s just getting acquainted with a beautiful teacher, Beau (Ellen Hollman), who just happens to be Wild Bill’s cousin.
The film proceeds in pretty much the expected manner, following Road House not only in plot but in specific moments of execution, such as Dalton’s fellow bouncers saying ‘I thought you’d be bigger’ and, in a direct mirror of the earlier film’s sex scene, Beau being carried to the bedroom wrapped around Shane’s waist. In fact, there is not a single original thought in this film whatsoever, typified by a lazy script which makes the police corrupt but not bothering to show us much of this supposed corruption. Scaech is a moderately good-looking but completely colourless actor, whilst Beau is attractive but victim of a terrible script which lumbers her with being ex-army (army to schoolteacher? Explains the kickboxing, I suppose…) and a string of empty-gun expletives.
The pair entirely fail to match the chemistry that Swayze and Lynch achieved in the original, and although the film does contain nudity, it is entirely gratuitous and coldly presented. Busey is passably nasty in his role, but Norton is unconvincing as the chief baddie (how come they’re all so bloody good at kickboxing?) and Marisa Quintanilla given scraps as Bill’s unlucky henchwoman. Uncle Nate too seems to be born solely to inflict pain and have pain inflicted on him as he fights his way into and out of hospital.
Road House 2: Last Call passes a mindless hour and a half, and if you particularly enjoy seeing non-entities beating each other up and the odd stripper’s nipple is not a complete disaster. However, there are plenty of Stephen Seagal films that do this job better, and of course there is the original Road House, which organically creates a sleazy atmosphere to much better effect, whereas this is a calculating and sterile experience. One last thing: there is a band in the bar, but it is unsurprisingly bland compared to Jeff Healey’s raucous blues wailing. Competent filmmaking, but completely soulless.