Road House

NZ release: 26 September 1989

Violence Rated on: 26 September 1989

1989 original

road house 1989 poster

What’s it about?

A bouncer is hired to clean up the baddest honkytonk in a Missouri town. Armed with a black belt in karate and a PhD in philosophy, Dalton sets out to tame the Double Deuce for its owner.

The facts

  • Director: Rowdy Herrington
  • English language
  • Runtime 114 minutes
  • Starring Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliot

Why did it get this rating?

This film was classified in 1989 by the Chief Censor of Films. At that time it was originally classified as RP16 with the descriptive note ‘contains violence’. Under the modern classification system that came into effect with the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act (1993 this film was subsequently cross-rated by the Film and Video Labelling Body to M violence.

This rating may not reflect the current approach to classifying this type of content and so we recommend taking note of the content breakdown below.

Sex scenes and nudity

There are several scenes with brief glimpses of female nudity. We see naked breasts, nude bottoms, and topless bikini clad women. There is a “G-string” competition on stage at the bar and we see topless ladies competing on the stage wearing only G-strings. A woman strips off on stage for attention from the crowd and we see her topless.

We also see male nudity during sex scenes, mostly nude bottoms but not full frontal nudity. There are plenty of topless Patrick Swayze scenes, especially when he’s exercising.

We see a man and woman having rear entry sex in a dimly lit storeroom. She has her top pulled up and you can see breasts, and we see him completely naked side on.

Content that may disturb

There is a lot of misogyny shown by the bad characters in the film, where women are treated as sexualised objects:

  • We see men groping women in the bar.
  • A man encourages another man to pay money to kiss a woman’s breasts. He takes him up on the offer and then proceeds to heavily grope the woman’s breasts without paying the money.
  • A man pulls a woman away from the bar against her will after she was interrupted talking to another man. We later see her with a black eye and it’s implied that her boyfriend beat her after they left the bar.

Dalton suffers bloody injuries during the film. He stitches up a knife wound on his arm using a thread and needle. After another fight we see him receiving metal staples to fix a gaping wound, without anaesthetic, in the hospital.

Dalton, the main character smokes occasionally throughout the film.


Dalton is hired as a bouncer to ‘clean up’ a bar which has a lot of rough clientele. The film features a lot of hand to hand fighting in bars where characters are hit with glass bottles, heads are smashed against tables or against the bar top that is laden with glasses. There are knife fights where people get cut, stabbed, and even killed. Some of these fights result in bloody wounds but we don’t see a lot of close-up detail of the wounds.

There is an all-out bar brawl where we see men punching women, and women smashing glass bottles over men’s heads.

Knives are used in fights to escalate the stakes and we see several characters killed after being stabbed. In a strong scene we see a character slit the throat of his attacker in self-defence. There’s a close-up of his bloodied face and neck.

There are several fight scenes where pistols and shotguns are used. In one of the more graphic scenes a character is shot multiple times with shotguns. We see the entry wounds and the character as he stumbles backwards into a glass coffee table.

Offensive language

There are crude statements from various bad characters throughout the film, such as “balls big enough to cum in a dumptruck”. Words such as “f**king” “bullsh*t”, “sh*t” and “f**k with him” are spoken.

We see graffiti handwritten on the wall that reads “for a great f**k call…” before a character uses a pen to change it to read “for a great Buick call…”.

Further information

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