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Ronda Rousey vs. Patrick Swayze: Road House Edition Toe to Toe Preview

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Phil and David fill the void of 'slow week' by talking about whether or not Ronda Rousey will do justice to Patrick Swayze's iconic character, Dalton, and the rest of 1989's Road House, which will be remade and end up in a theatre near you sooner than you think.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Yes MMA fans, it's the dreaded "slow week". Which means Phil and I get to talk about Ronda Rousey and 1989's Road House while Nate quietly wonders why he allows us to write for this incredible MMA machine to begin with.

Phil and I take our jobs, just like our 80's action movies, seriously. Does Ronda Rousey take her 80's action seriously, however? That's the real question. Let's break it down.

History / Introduction to both Fighters

David: Ronda Rousey has vanquished everyone the UFC can throw at her, so now she's gonna turn her eyes to a fictional town near Kansas City.

To be honest, this is Rousey's endgame. I don't see the real world challenging her enough to make her avoid doing something she loves that doesn't require the services of her health.

Phil: I think it's an endgame that we see later than a lot of people (including Rousey) might expect though. She says she's going to retire in a few years, but I find it difficult to believe that someone as absurdly competitive as Rousey is going to be able to force herself to step away while she's still on top.

David: Swayze's success in the cinematic ring is kind of a mixed bag. Like a whitebread John Dodson, he showed real chops when the stakes were at their highest, taking down the Soviets armed with nothing but midwestern moxy, and John Madden wisdom. But when the scale was toned down, he faltered against Johnny Utah and even a complete jobber in Willie Lopez.

Phil: The Lopez confrontations in Ghost at least showcased a level of adaptability and environmental awareness from Swayze. He came back from an abysmal first showing where he was killed, and used magical oogah-boogah powers to scare Lopez into traffic. That's fight IQ right there.

What are the stakes?

David: Just eye rolling from cinephiles. Everyone laments the abundance of remakes, but a remake doesn't magically erase the value of the original. Who really cares anyway? If Hollywood doesn't use old ideas to create mediocrity, they'll just go back to using original ideas to create mediocrity. The movie machine is a flat, bar room brawling circle.

Phil: First they took our jobs. Then they invaded video games and sci fi writing. With the genderswapped Ghostbusters they try to take our childhood. Now, they strike at the very heart of manliness. Can no-one stop women in their relentless quest to destroy all that is good?!

I worry that this will actually be a line of reasoning that we might hear from an increasingly shrill MRA demographic, but I really hope not.

David: Careul there, Social Justice Tough Guy. The MRA's totally have a point. What could be more damaging to an action hero than taking away all their penises?

Besides, is Road House sacred or something? I actually really like the movie as a stick to your ribs kind of celluloid cheese, but it's a good example of movies that could use remakes. Ever see Bad Moon? The werewolf film told from the dog's perspective that would be cool if the acting, effects, and dialogue didn't absolutely blow? That movie needs a remake. Road House could use a remake. Will it lose the charm of the original? I guess. But this ignores the fact that movies like Road House have a charm that is completely accidental.

The real problem with remakes is not in concept, but in philosophy. They know the movie, and they know the fans so they wink at the audience constantly instead of doing something sincere.

Phil: Nostalgia and big-studio paralysis are the big external factors, but if (big if) Ronda can shoulder the burden, perhaps she goes on into other remakes of blue-collar violence. Over The Top? Every Which Way But Loose? Maybe she segues into more traditional martial arts films, like a female version of The Quest.

Insight from Past Fights?

David: I go back to Swayze's fight with Ben Gazzara. Ben is in his 70's and clearly in need of a new hip, but he manages to land some chingasos on ole' Pat. Can you imagine Meryl Streep sneaking in some spinning back elbows on Ronda? Maybe Meryl on that Dr. Henry Wu special sauce could do some damage, but even then....

Phil: Meryl throwing spinning ‘bows at Ronda is not something I knew I wanted to see until now. Going back to Swayze, this is the problem with his style. For all the street-tough posing, there's always a bit of the (dirty) dancing Johnny Castle pretty boy in there, and those willing to mix it up and get grimy were historically able to find him.

David: Rousey had a little trouble with Michelle Rodriquez in Fast 7, Furious 7, or whatever you want to call it. I have a difficult time watching that movie without rewinding Statham and Diesel's hilarious game of chicken, or the Rock's predator drone kill with a flying ambulance, so I can't remember much but Michelle basically wins the fight with a fireman's carry off a two story balcony.

Phil: Rousey's quick and one-sided blowouts in her pro career haven't let us really see how much of a punch she can take, but she showcased solid durability against Michelle Rodriguez who, let's not forget, once played a boxer. If we've learned anything from MMA, it's that any tangential association with boxing results in flawless technique and ferocious KO power. So good job forcing Rodriguez to rely on a powerbomb.


Phil: How much Ronda do people want? She's an incredibly charismatic figure, but her exposure to the public has largely been limited to short soundbites, and shorter fights. Longer exposure to her volatile personality didn't go so well on The Ultimate Fighter, and might well have damaged her brand if anyone gave a single solitary crap about TUF.

This itself is, of course, dependent on if the film can even capture any of Rousey's charm in the first place- she didn't have much to say or do in The Expendables, but still managed to come across so wooden that it'd be surprising if Rodriguez didn't get splinters after their tussle.

David: I'll refrain from discussing Rousey's acting skills because she's predictably bad, but also predictably inexperienced. I think her volatile personality is precisely what would attract a wider audience. Donald Trump anyone? But at least with Rousey, there's nuance to her volatility. The Sandy Hook tweets represented the nadir of that volatility, but the ‘Do Nothing Bitch' speech, now immortalized by Beyonce herself, represents what I think is her pinnacle in terms of public perception. Yea it's a garbled approach to a positive message, but the lack of philosophical correctness doesn't detract from the meaning. The infusion of attitude as only Rousey can deliver is what attracts people.


Phil: I'm not opposed to a gender-swap remake of Road House, but questions about whether Rousey can act at all remain... unanswered. More than that, I suspect this is going to be a typical production of a modern risk-averse studio; something simultaneously sexualized and sterile. Coyote Uke, if you will. 1989 version by majority Rotten Tomatoes decision.

David: This goes back to my problem with remakes; they ignore the important minutiae. What good is Road House remake if it doesn't have an awkward sex scene, throat ripping, plastic polar bear tackling, or Reagan-era heroics?

If the filmmakers want to do something interesting, the "I used to fuck guys like you in prison" villain will be played by Audrey Tautou, with Julie Christie or Helen Mirren in the Ben Gazzara role. Although I'm not sure how I feel about watching Christie or Mirren get shotgun blasted by a bunch of bar owners. Still, I do enjoy the image of either woman shaking down lowly henchmen with a sinister crotch blast while extolling the virtues of pain endurance.

If the studio can get behind these ideas, and Rousey can grow as a performer, I got the 2017 version by Rotten Tomatoes Armbar.