The Stories Behind the Best Fight Scenes in Road House
Credit: Benny Urquidez Private Library

But Urquidez's cheerleading almost backfired when it came to shooting the scene in which Dalton must defend himself against that lethal boot tip. When Urquidez informed the actors that they'd be using a rubber tip, and not a real one, Swayze protested. "He kept saying, 'No Sensei, it's okay. I can do it. I can get away from it.' I told him I knew he could–I knew how good he was–but asked him to humor me. 'It's my job,' I told him. 'If something should happen to you, it's my fault–not yours. And he looked at me and said, 'Okay… But I can do it!'"

Fight 5: Sam Elliott Arrives 

The Setup: Dalton's antics haven't been a source of amusement for Road House's villain, local businessman/bad guy Paul Wesley. So much so that the bar has had to find an alternative liquor supplier. But Wesley's henchmen aren't about to let that happen, and corner Dalton in the back of the bar in the one incident in which he appears truly outmatched. Fortunately, Dalton's mentor, Wade Garrett (played by Sam Elliott) arrives just in time to save the day.
The Story: After seeing the intensity of Urquidez's training with Swayze, "Sam Elliott was looking at me and saying, 'Now what are you going to teach this old fart?,'" Urquidez laughs. "I told him that when I watched Patrick move, he moved like a cat, so I choreographed all of his movements very cat-like. I told Sam, 'You have bear movement. Everything that I'm going to teach you, I'm going to use bear power movements. When you strike, you're just going to go right through it.' He looked at me and said: 'I like that.' When I stretched him, I knew that I didn't want him kicking above the waist–first of all, because he didn't have the flexibility. And secondly, because his character just wouldn't do that. He would be doing power blows with elbows and knees. That fight in the back took a couple of days to shoot because it was like a couple of bulldozers fighting. It was just power against power. Sam had bad knees and he didn't have very good flexibility, but he's such a great actor and he sold it so well."

Fight 6: Dalton, Jimmy, and a Pool Cue

The Setup: With Wesley at The Double Deuce looking on, his right-hand henchman Jimmy (played by martial artist Marshall Teague) takes on Dalton with a fast-moving pool cue.
The Story: "Marshall Teague is a true martial artist," says Urquidez. "So was Patrick Swayze, but he had a much softer technique. Everybody I choreographed for, I was actually looking at them like animal movements. I watched how they moved and they reminded me of certain animals. And I made Marshall Teague a mongoose. I wanted him to go in there in a very powerful way, but told him, 'You're going to get in there and get out.' I wanted him to get in there and do a little Kata with the pool stick, and he really started getting excited and getting into it. I had to keep telling him to slow down – he was moving too fast and too hard, and using a real pool stick. Eventually, we had to switch to a prop one. All the form he did in the beginning was with a real pool stick, but then we switched to a prop which isn't as strong. 'That way, if you whip it, it's going to snap,' I told him."

Fight 7: Dalton, Jimmy, and a Motorcycle

The Setup: That whole pool stick dance floor number wasn't the only one-on-one faceoff between Dalton and Jimmy. But the second one became a fight to the death – with Dalton emerging victorious when he opted to rip out Jimmy's throat with his bare hands, then throw him into the lake.
The Story: "Oh, that was awesome," says Urquidez, who counts this three-minute battle as his favorite Road House fight. "They were both sore! They were wearing pads all over, but they were really kicking each other. Let me tell you, you're doing fast kicks with a light impact, but with that impact over and over and over again, you're going to feel it. Finally I just gave them the thumbs up to keep going, because I knew that no matter what I said, they were going to do it anyway. I just told them to just be safe. That was a week-long choreography, but they shot it in two and a half days, which was amazing. It was a great fight scene."

Fight 8: The Grand Finale (With Polar Bears)

The Setup: In the film's grand fight finale, Dalton has to make his way through a string of bad guys to get to the real villain: Wesley, played by Ben Gazzara. The final standoff takes place, appropriately enough, in Wesley's trophy room, which is littered with enough weapons and animal heads to keep the multi-minute standoff interesting, and plays a bit like a Tom & Jerry cartoon.
The Story: "That was the major scene," says Urquidez, who still marvels that they were able to shoot it in just three days. "That's the one I was really concerned with. And I made sure that Ben Gazzara understood exactly what he had to do, because I didn't really have a chance to work much with him on his flexibility. So I said, 'Okay, we're going to make this very simple: You're coming out with weapons! Patrick is going to do all the fancy stuff – all the movements and coming forwards and backwards, and you're going to come in with the guns.' Which made it easier. But we really did kick him over that couch. We wanted everybody to see that it was Ben getting kicked, so we put pads on him and kicked him enough just to make the movement where he would go over the couch. Then we brought in the stunt double and put him into that glass table. And Ben was game. The stunt coordinator [Charlie Picerni] and I really worked well together. He was such a gentleman. He really trusted me and what I was doing. He was the one that really helped me understand picture fighting. So I really had a good time working with him. Road House, to me, was not work. Everybody was having such a great time."