Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Johnathan Schaech

Johnathan Schaech (pronounced "Sheck") has smouldering good looks that have been exploited in a number of supporting and leading roles over the past 20 years.

He's appeared in films of varying caliber, but almost exclusively in dramatic roles. He's not the first person you’d expect to see in a physical role. But that’s exactly what happened when he got the lead role in the sequel to the cult hit Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989).

Reworking the concept of the first film, which was about a bouncer in a small town bar, Road House 2 (Scott Ziehl, 2006) casts Schaech as a DEA agent who heads back to his hometown to take care of some family business.

He equips himself well as an action hero; there’s some complex choreography that he (with the help of stunt double Sam Hargrave) handles really well. He even gets to go one-on-one with the Richard Norton, whose appearances are all too few since the end of the 90s.

Sadly Patrick Swayze did not reprise his role as Dalton for Road House 2 (not even for a cameo) but there is some continuity. Schaech, who also gets a screenplay credit, plays the son of this iconic character. The timeline discrepancy is never sufficiently explained and he doesn't make a single mention of his mother.

Schaech may be a newcomer to action hero status but he’s no stranger to made-for-DVD sequels. Albeit "erotic" ones. Early in his career he starred alongside Alyssa Milano in Poison Ivy 2 (Anne Goursaud, 1996) and nearly 10 years later in the lamentable 8mm 2 (J.S. Cardone, 2005).

8mm 2 was only titled as a sequel, originally called The Velvet Side of Hell, but distributors Sony Pictures Home Entertainment must have been pleased with the release. They were backing Road House 2 and must have felt Schaech could carry the belated Road House sequel.

Most DVD sequels are not good but Road House 2 really bucks the trend. At least in my opinion. It’s not perfect but has a good cast, decent production values and excellent action sequences. While films like Timecop 2 (Stephen Boyum, 2003) are an embarrassment, Road House 2 stands as a worthy successor. It’s arguably one of the best direct-to-DVD action films of the 2000s and of direct-to-DVD sequels in general.

There are reasons to love and hate Road House 2, but you simply cannot fault the film’s style and action. This has less to do with Schaech than it does with J.J. Perry and his stunt team. A special mention has to go to Sophia Crawford and Karin Silvestri, who make the climactic girl-fight between feisty love interest Beau (Ellen Hollman) and knife-wielding psycho-bitch Nadja (Marisa Quintanilla) much more memorable than Schaech’s with either Norton or lead villain Jake Busey.

Schaech wasn’t born to be an action hero, just another handsome bloke dropped into an action film, but his career continues to thrive, with supporting roles in thrillers such as Takers (John Luessenhop, 2010) and 5 Days of August (Renny Harlin, 2011).