Road House Wasted Conor McGregor’s Acting Debut


  • Jake Gyllenhaal leads Prime Video’s hit remake
    Road House
    with a stellar performance as bouncer Elwood Dalton.
  • Director Doug Liman’s unique approach to shooting fight scenes in
    Road House
    falls short of expectations with CGI-like effects.
  • Conor McGregor’s involvement in
    Road House
    is criticized for his character being too similar to his real-life persona.

Prime Video’s Road House has been a massive hit for the streaming service. The remake of the 1989 original has broken records as Prime Video’s most streamed original movie of all time. Stepping in for Patrick Swayze is one of the most popular actors of today, Jake Gyllenhaal, known for his roles in Prisoners, Zodiac, Brokeback Mountain, and Donnie Darko, to name a few.

Prime Video’s Road House loosely follows the story of its predecessor. Elwood Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) is hired as a bouncer at a road house in the Florida Keys. However, his work is cut out for him when a local millionaire tries to force the tenants out to buy the property and redevelop the entire island. Elwood Dalton is a former UFC fighter. To keep it a fair fight, director Doug Liman brought in the real former UFC Champion, Conor McGregor, to play the main villain, Knox. Unfortunately, Road House completely wasted McGregor’s acting debut.

Conor McGregor Could Have Made the Fight Scenes Gritty and Realistic

Audiences felt jarred by Road House‘s fight scenes. The film’s choreography is nothing unusual in the action genre, but director Doug Liman used a peculiar method to shoot the action scenes. Liman wanted to convey the actors actually being hit on camera, unlike other movies, which use creative camera angles to mask fake punches and kicks.

Obviously, Liman couldn’t let his actors have a genuine brawl, especially with Conor McGregor involved. So, Road House‘s fight scenes were shot four times, which achieved this effect. The first shot featured the actual fight choreography. Liman and his stunt coordinator, Garret Warren, then got the actors to throw real strikes against pads and dummies for two shots. Finally, Liman got blank coverage of the background. These four takes were blended together in the editing room to make the fight scenes look ‘realistic.’


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However, the technique actually had the reverse effect. Road House was criticized for its CGI-looking fight scenes. Not only did this detract from the movie’s overall quality, but it also rendered Conor McGregor’s involvement redundant. Why hire a professional fighter for a film if the fight scenes look like CGI? John Wick has proven that real fighting techniques can be used and shot in-camera in a single take without injuring actors.

To many in the MMA world, the John Wick franchise – perhaps alongside Tom Hardy’s Warrior – is the pinnacle of realistic movie fighting (obviously, ignoring the countless times John Wick has jumped from multiple-story buildings). When McGregor was brought on to star in Road House, many fans hoped for the same result. Even John Wick Chapter 4 star, Scott Adkins, criticized Road House‘s fight scenes. Adkins simply said, “Swayze didn’t need it,” regarding its bizarre CGI.

In movie fight scenes, there is usually about a foot of distance between the actor’s face and their opponent’s fist. This distance is masked using camera angles and is vital to keeping the cast safe. As a professional fighter at the highest level, Conor McGregor naturally has an incredible sense of distance and range. Liman and Warren could have shot fight scenes using the conventional method and incorporated McGregor’s skill and experience.

Conor McGregor Essentially Plays Himself in Road House

To his credit, no one expected Conor McGregor to deliver a tour de force performance in Road House. Perhaps in a parallel universe, Conor McGregor wins an Oscar for his role, but not this one. That being said, some people were disappointed to see the athlete play a carbon copy of himself in the movie.


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MMA fans and even casual audiences know Conor McGregor’s larger-than-life persona. The Irish-born fighter made a name for himself with his quippy trash-talk, which he backed up with spectacular knockouts. McGregor was even told to “turn the crazy down a notch” by the rest of the cast on set via TheMacLife. From the moment Knox appears on-screen, bizarrely naked in Italy, McGregor’s ‘performance’ is transparently his own personality with a vague accent.

What’s equally confusing is that Road House can’t fully commit to where Knox is from. To his credit, McGregor attempts an accent for some of the movie. However, he reverts to his natural Irish accent in most scenes. However, Road House undermines this attempt by labeling Knox as Irish. This makes McGregor’s accent even more confusing. It also devalues McGregor’s genuine acting attempts, as the one differing factor between his character and his own personality is taken away.

Conor McGregor has stated that Road House is only the start of his acting career. Where the newly anointed actor will go next is anyone’s guess. However, fans hope that McGregor will try to detach his character, at least slightly, from his own personality and feature better-shot fight scenes. Road House, the 2024 remake, is streaming now on Prime Video.


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