“Roadhouse”: The Film that Broke its Own Rule

The 1989 cult classic “Roadhouse” is renowned for its bar brawls, roundhouse kicks, and Patrick Swayze’s iconic portrayal of the enigmatic bouncer, Dalton. At the heart of the movie lies a set of rules Dalton shares with the bouncers of the Double Deuce bar. These rules, especially the third one, provide an interesting lens through which we can examine the movie’s narrative and underlying themes.

Dalton’s Three Rules

  1. Never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected.
  2. Take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  3. If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, be nice.

The third rule is particularly intriguing. On its surface, it’s a straightforward call for professionalism and restraint in the face of provocation. Yet, as the story unfolds, this very rule seems to be in direct contradiction with many of the film’s central moments.

Contradictions in Action Dalton himself, despite being the proponent of the “be nice” philosophy, doesn’t always adhere to it. While he is often calm and collected, there are moments when he’s provoked into violent confrontations. In these moments, the movie seems to celebrate the very antithesis of the third rule. It revels in the visceral thrill of barroom brawls and mano-a-mano showdowns.

This divergence from the rule isn’t limited to Dalton alone. Other characters, even those who’ve been advised to follow the rule, frequently find themselves in heated conflicts. The Double Deuce, with its rowdy patrons and turbulent history, is a veritable powder keg, with confrontations erupting at the slightest provocation.

The Appeal of Dichotomy One might wonder: Why establish a rule only to break it so frequently? The answer lies in the appeal of dichotomy. The tension between Dalton’s ideals and the reality of the Double Deuce adds layers to the narrative. It showcases the constant struggle between restraint and aggression, order and chaos.

Dalton’s rules, especially the third one, serve as an ideal, a north star for the bouncers. The breaches of this rule demonstrate the challenges of adhering to such ideals in a world that is often anything but ideal. It’s this tension that makes “Roadhouse” more than just a movie about bar fights. It becomes a tale of a man trying to bring order to chaos, all the while grappling with his own inner turmoil.

Conclusion “Roadhouse” might seem like a straightforward action flick, but beneath the surface, there’s a rich tapestry of themes and contradictions. The third rule, and the film’s frequent divergence from it, encapsulates this complexity. It highlights the eternal human struggle between our higher ideals and the gritty realities of life. And in doing so, “Roadhouse” proves that sometimes, breaking the rules makes for a much more compelling story.

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