Wheels On Meals

  • 1983
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Action, Comedy, Martial Arts

Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung, the sensational trio from PROJECT A (1983) were reteamed for this lightweight action-comedy, first released officially in the US on home video in 1998. The contrived plot is top-heavy with silly comedy, but the leads are hugely appealing and the action top-notch, particularly a concluding fight oft cited as one of...read more

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Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung, the sensational trio from PROJECT A (1983) were reteamed for this lightweight action-comedy, first released officially in the US on home video in 1998. The contrived plot is top-heavy with silly comedy, but the leads are hugely appealing and the

action top-notch, particularly a concluding fight oft cited as one of the best ever put on film.

Buddies Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Yuen Biao) run a lunch wagon on the streets of Barcelona. David is smitten by a beautiful street-hustler named Sylvia (Lola Forner), who proceeds to steal their wallets after they bail her out of a jam. Finding her in trouble again, they once again help out,

afterwards hiring her to assist in their food business.

Meanwhile their pal, novice private detective Moby (Sammo Hung), has been hired to find Sylvia and her mother, a woman missing for 20 years; Sylvia's mother is subsequently discovered in a mental institution being courted by David's dad. When a gang of bad guys comes around, Moby and the guys foil

several attempts to kidnap Sylvia, who it turns out is the illegitimate daughter of a rich count, recently deceased. The count's brother Mondale wants her dead within 14 days in order to collect the inheritance. After Sylvia and her mother are snatched and spirited away to Mondale's castle, the

three heroes sneak in, battle Mondale's fighters, and save the day.

Barcelona seems to be about two blocks square, judging by the number of times characters accidentally run into one another. Coincidence is in fact the driving force of the plot, as the unevenly paced film lurches through countless mood shifts and diversions including a short musical interlude; two

goofy, almost slapstick visits to the mental institution; and a rather lackluster car chase which ends cleverly with the lunch wagon's accoutrements being used as weapons against the pursuers. The three lead actors, former Chinese-opera school classmates and longtime friends, play off each other

flawlessly in a series of juvenile pranks before uniting memorably in the final reel, wielding swords in unison in a nice allusion to the Three Musketeers.

Featuring an international cast (including American Herb Edelman and European model Lola Forner) and setting the action in Europe was clearly a bid for a western audience. The motorcycle gang that Chan and Yuen trounce is an exaggerated multi-ethnic cartoon, presaging the gang in Chan's US

breakthrough over a decade later, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (1995). Using western fighters for the first time, Chan and company square off against US karate champ Keith Vitali and undefeated kickboxing champ Benny "The Jet" Urquidez in a pair of short skirmishes part way through the film and then again

in the no-holds-barred finale. While Yuen shows off his acrobatic abilities against Vitali, Chan and stone-cold, expressionless Urqidez have an earthier, grittier showdown that s about considerably more than just punches. Magnificently filmed and edited, it clearly shows the psychology of the

fighters, trying to out-think and out-psych one another. No doubt part of the realism was due to the reputed animosity between the two actors, as ring-trained Urquidez was unschooled in pulling his punches for the camera, and more than a few blows landed for real. The undeniable power of the

scene, and the success of the film, led to Urquidez returning for a rematch with Chan in DRAGONS FOREVER (1988). He has since gone on to become a fight advisor and martial arts teacher in Hollywood.

Incidentally, the film's puzzling title is due to the failure in 1992 of the Golden Harvest films MEGAFORCE and MENAGE A TROIS. Rather than risk the curse of the letter "M," the title was inverted from the original MEALS ON WHEELS. Whereas in Japan, they simply decided to connect the film with

Chan's earlier PROJECT A (1983) by retitling it SPARTAN X, adding an outtake reel that the domestic versions lack. (Violence, sexual situations.)

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  • Released: 1983
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung, the sensational trio from PROJECT A (1983) were reteamed for this lightweight action-comedy, first released officially in the US on home video in 1998. The contrived plot is top-heavy with silly comedy, but the leads… (more)

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