How Jake Gyllenhaal and Patrick Swayze’s Movies Compare
How Jake Gyllenhaal and Patrick Swayze’s Movies Compare

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Let’s get this out of the way first: there’s a distinct lack of throat-ripping in the new Road House.

This may be a bummer for those who adored the superb 1989 action flick starring Patrick Swayze. The latest “Road House” (streaming now on Prime Video) stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man named Dalton who, like Swayze’s character, is hired to clean up a rowdy bar where fights and violence break out nightly.

There are certainly similarities between the two stories, but also some key differences – for one thing, the ’89 film is set in a small Missouri town, the new one on an island in the Florida Keys. Here’s a rundown of how the solid and surprisingly entertaining remake of “Road House” compares to the cult classic cheeseball original (available on Prime Video and Max).

What’s the same, what’s different between the 1989 Road House and the 2024 remake?

The common premise carries over and echoes between the two films. Both Daltons love coffee, have anger issues, are trying to move on from a fatal accident in their past, are amazingly good at patching up nasty wounds, and befriend a local doctor (played by Kelly Lynch as Swayze, Daniela Melchior as Gyllenhaal). They also share the signature Road House line: “Nobody ever wins a fight.”

However, the original film is very ’80s in its over-the-top mood, with chair-throwing brawls set in a sweaty snoring heel. The new “House” is a more picturesque affair, with a waterside bar, boats and even a hungry crocodile. It’s also heavily influenced by mixed martial arts and the UFC, as Gyllenhaal’s Dalton goes from a dangerous fighter in the Octagon to breaking bones in a cool tavern setting. (The original film’s strip name, Double Deuce, carries an Easter egg in the new film.)

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Who is the best Dalton: Patrick Swayze or Jake Gyllenhaal?

For starters, Swayze’s Dalton—a quiet and philosophical man with tai chi skills and a guilt complex—is one of the late actor’s most memorable roles where he’s not dancing or making pottery. It’s not Gyllenhaal’s usual forte, though he’s faced it before (see: 2015’s “Southpaw”), and the Oscar-nominated star isn’t too shabby of an action star. Yet, despite sharing the same last name, their Daltons are very different personalities.

Swayze’s Dalton is pretty much a throat-splitting urban legend, traveling the country and going where he needs to because he’s furnishing bars everywhere. There’s even a joke where everyone tells him, “I thought you were going to get bigger.” But he’s done that before when we meet him—not so with Gyllenhaal’s Dalton, whose first name is Elwood. (Swayze is James, but this is never said in the film and is only seen in a hospital record.)

Bar owner Frankie (Jessica Williams) is actually looking for someone else when she ends up hiring Ellwood as her lead drummer, even though he never seems to have had a huge gig. It’s a choice that doesn’t work as logically, but, hey, Ellwood is still an ace at power punches and teaches his employees how to deal with various armed robbers. (Gyllenhaal doesn’t rip out throats, but he punches a dude’s windpipe.)

Which ‘Road House’ has a better supporting cast? (Tip: Conor McGregor)

The original “Road House” featured Sam Elliott as Dalton’s best friend, Wade, so that’s a bonus. Lynch is more of a love interest for Swayze, though Melchior’s doctor and Gyllenhaal’s Dalton have a nice picnic on the water, and she’s good at rescuing him when the cops rough him up. And the OG movie has the much better main villain: Ben Gazzara is brutal and intense as Brad Wesley, a crime boss who runs the city, while Billy Magnussen’s Ben Brand, who tries to get Frankie’s house for nefarious purposes, leans in somehow wacky.

What the new ‘Road House’ really has is real-life Irish fighter Conor McGregor in his first film role. Most of the supporting cast in the first film are boring ’80s-style brainiacs (with the exception of pro wrestler Terry Funk), but McGregor is different: His charismatic gruff Knox steals scenes, manically swinging a golf club, sparring with Gyllenhaal in a brutal final fight , and showing his naked ass. Pretty interesting, just like Swayze back in the day.

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