Wheels on Meals (Hong Kong, 1984)

The three Kung Fu-teers live up to their name in this exciting action-comedy where a certain duel between legends is unleashed!

Thomas and David are cousins who spend their mornings training in martial arts before operating a local food truck in the central square of Barcelona, Spain. One night, they help a young pickpocket, Sylvia, who returns the thanks by stealing from them. Meanwhile, Moby, an aspiring detective, gets his dream job when his boss, Matt, is forced to leave Spain due to his owing money to local loan sharks. When a mysterious client hires Moby to find the illegitimate daughter of the local Count, who has passed away, Moby, Thomas, and David are in for a shock.

Sylvia is once again saved by Thomas and David and this time; she offers to make amends by working with the duo with their food truck. She soon changes her attitude and has become a better person. However, Moby soon learns that Sylvia is the one he is looking for and it gets worse. The Count’s brother is planning to get rid of Sylvia and her mother Gloria, who was a housemaid who had the affair with the Count. When both Sylvia and Gloria are kidnapped, Thomas, David, and Moby must head to rescue them at any cost.

After the success of Project A. which Jackie Chan directed with the help of his “brothers in arms”, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, it was time for Sammo to direct the trio in an international adventure that melds their chemistry for comedy and some amazing action sequences. Shot on location in Barcelona, Spain and with an international cast, the film also features some Hong Kong favorites from Winners and Sinners, in extended cameos as some guys in a local mental facility.

The film belongs to Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao as Thomas and David, our cousins who operate the food truck “Meals on Wheels” (which is the original title but was reversed apparently due to Golden Harvest’s superstition) and in the opening, we see the two of them training. From Wing Chun to kickboxing, Chan and Yuen are at the top of their game. As for Hung himself, he sports a practical Jheri curl as bumbling detective Moby and gets in on some action sporadically.

The international cast is great in their performances. Former Miss Spain Maria Delores “Lola” Forner makes the most impact as Sylvia, a young woman who moonlights as a con artist who steals only to have a change of heart when Thomas and David save her on two separate occasions. Pepe Sancho mainly takes over the third act as Mondale, the Count’s brother who attempts to get all the fortune by attempting to off Sylvia and her mother. The lead two goons who head the way for Mondale are played by two American martial arts champions, Keith Vitali and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez.

This leads to one of the greatest fight scenes in all of films, let alone one of Jackie Chan’s best on-screen fights. During the chaos of the third act, set in the Count’s castle, we get to watch Vitali against Yuen, who flips and jumps his way to evade the former semi-contact champion. However, the real treat is the fight between Chan and Urquidez, a champion kickboxer at the time of filming. Hung, who also was the film’s action director, lets Chan and Urquidez go at it and done so well. It looks like an insane kickboxing fight between the champion and the legendary action star. The final three-on-one is exactly why Hung, Yuen, and Chan can be called the “Three Kung Fu-teers”.

Wheels on Meals is a fun and wild action ride with Jackie, Sammo, and Yuen leading an international cast on a wild chase full of comic bits and exhilarating action.

WFG RATING: A

A Golden Harvest Production. Director: Sammo Hung. Producer: Raymond Chow. Writers: Edward Tang and Johnny Lee. Cinematography: Arthur Wong and Cheung Yiu-Cho. Editing: Peter Cheung.

Cast: Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Maria Delores Forner, Herb Edelman, Pepe Sancho, Benny Urquidez, Keith Vitali, Richard Ng, John Shum, Wu Ma, Blacky Ko, Susanna Sentis, Paul Chang.

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