Samo Hung (director)
18 March 2019 (released)
12 March 2019
There can’t be many martial arts movies set in Barcelona and with the primarily Spanish cast being dubbed in Mandarin/Cantonese… but trust Jackie Chan (one of the few Hong Kong stars in this film) pulling off the impossible!
WHEELS ON MEALS (as opposed to Meals on Wheels) is so called because distributor Golden Harvest demanded a title change after their previous two film releases (both beginning with an M in the title) turned out to be flops. How’s that for a fortune cookie message? To add to the weirdness, it was decided to shoot WHEELS ON MEALS (1984) entirely in Spain because around that time, making films in Hong Kong had become a trifle difficult so to speak: native martial art stars were stalked at every corner and if that wasn’t enough, obtaining permits from the Government to film in Hong Kong equally proved a challenge-and-a-half!
Off then to sunny Barcelona where Thomas (Jackie Chan) and goofy looking cousin David aka ‘Four Eyes’ (Yuen Biao) operate a fast food van, with Thomas taking orders from locals and tourists alike by zooming about the Plaza on a skateboard. It doesn’t take long before a motorcycle gang causes trouble and Thomas in particular has plenty of opportunity to show off both his karate- as well as his skateboard skills. In a subplot enters the bumbling and ever so slightly overweight private detective Moby (Samo Hung – the film’s director) who is supposed to trace a missing young woman and her child. We then follow Thomas and David to a mental institution in which David’s father (Paul Chang) is a patient, during the course of the visit we also meet other patients like the guy who thinks he is a clock and keeps uttering “tick-tock-tick-tock” all the time. When Thomas, David and his father take a stroll in the hospital garden they not only encounter his father’s Spanish girlfriend but her very attractive daughter Sylvia (Lola Forner). Although both friends are instantly smitten it is David in particular who sets his sights on Sylvia. When Thomas suggests he follow her to the bus stop and ask her out on a date his courage fails him at the last minute and the young lady takes off in a taxi. Later on that night, as Thomas and David are busy selling junk food again from their van, they spot Sylvia but shock horror, she appears to be a prostitute! What they don’t know (at least not yet) is that Sylvia is the same young woman Detective Moby is trying to find… Alone in the hotel room with her client, it turns out that Sylvia is not actually a hooker but a pickpocket albeit for a reason: she is the heir to a huge inheritance that a criminal gang are trying to get hold of. Hence, she had to go ‘undercover’ and is now hiding in Tom and David’s fast food van. Sensing that she spells trouble they feel protective about her nonetheless and allow her to stay in their room for the night. Just as Tom had feared, the next morning she is gone and so are their earnings! Later on it transpires that Moby is a friend of Tom and David who organized the van for them. When he realises that they have encountered Sylvia and that she might be the very woman he is supposed to find, the three men join forces but of course, at first they need to eliminate an entire gang of criminals who try absolutely everything to get them out of the way and kidnap Sylvia…
While the first half of the film primarily focuses on slapstick comedy and funny dialogue, the second half more than makes up for the lack of action in the first half. Indeed, once the action kicks in it’s practically non-stop, with jaw-dropping car chases, kung-fu and karate fights that need to be seen to be believed, and a mighty show-down in the villains castle which sees superstar Jackie Chan battling it out against former professional kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez (better known as ‘The Jet’). The sequence of kicks and spins is so quick one can only gasp in astonishment as to how both men got out of this without a broken neck! Broken bones and countless bruises aside, there is a happy ending but I won’t give it away.
Eureka offer WHEELS ON MEALS in a brand-new 2K restoration and Limited Edition slipcase and booklet (4000 copies only).