Wheels on Meals (1984)

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/01/2008

“Wheels on Meals” is a cheerful mess of a movie in which everything works beautifully. It is a buddy movie, a sex comedy and an action flick with a bit of caper/heist action and some great travelogue type shots of Barcelona. There is swordplay—European, not Chinese—gorgeous women, a long lost daughter of nobility in peril and some jaw-dropping fight scenes. There is something for everyone here.

Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao (Thomas and David) are own and run a lunch wagon that was a high tech marvel in the mid-1980s with counters and stools that slide out of the sides, a canopy that pops out of the top and a menu of Chinese and Spanish dishes. Thomas is the waiter, zipping around the plaza where they generally set up shop, using a skateboard to make one round of order taking and another for delivery. David stays in the kitchen making spring rolls and paella. The edge of the plaza is a place of assignation for prostitutes and their customers. This is where we first meet the lovely Sylvia, winningly played by Lola Forner, Miss Spain of 1979. She is a very high priced hooker with a rate about five time that of her competition. She seems to do a good business, though, since she is young, beautiful and self confident. As it happens she doesn’t actually sleep with tricks who pick her up, preferring to rob them of whatever cash they have in addition to her agreed upon fee. She is chased from a hotel by a guy who is quicker on the uptake than most and takes refuge with David, hiding under a counter of the lunch wagon while the police and outraged trick search for her.

Both Thomas and David fall for her, David particularly hard—a bad thing to do with a professional thief. Even though they take pains to hide their most of their money and are embarrassed when she offers to sleep with each of them (consecutively), our heroes awaken the next morning to find Sylvia and their money long gone.

She is also being sought by Moby, a private detective played with jerhi-curled perfection by Sammo Hung. Moby isn’t sure why he is looking for her but does know that his client seems to have a limitless supply of money to keep him looking. Whenever Moby pushes a bit too hard trying to find out his client’s interest in Sylvia or when he tells him he wants to quit he is given another huge stack of bills to keep him working. The three Chinese nationals keep running into each other and ultimately decide they have to work together. A necessary subplot involving David’s father, incarcerated in a mental hospital that resembles a luxury spa, and Sylvia’s mother, also a patient, closes the circle on who is who and what their relationship is.

Which leaves plenty of time for some incredibly well designed and executed fight scenes, particularly the one that is worth the price of admission on its own between Jackie Chan and Benny Urquidez. This is a sensational fight, one that it would be almost impossible to hype. It is protracted and brutal with a great deal of skill, stamina and fitness shown by both men. Punches and kicks are just barely slipped by their target or just slightly pulled by the fighter who threw them.

The three Chinese Opera School grads do their alma mater proud while Urquidez and Robert Vitali are very accomplished martial artists. They play the real tough guys—after half a dozen of Mondale’s thugs have been knocked around by Thomas and David, the characters played by Urquidez and Vitali are deployed and it is clear that they are much better than those they replace. They are also faster and hit harder than Thomas and David, beating them in their first encounter while barely breaking a sweat.

In the end justice is done, all the good people are happy, all the bad people are punished and the audience is left to marvel at a close to perfectly made movie.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 01/12/2007
Summary: wheels on meals

sylvia (lola "miss spain 1979" forner) is a pickpocket, who crosses paths with thomas (jackie chan) and his partner david (yuen biao), who run a mobile fast food joint in barcelona. thomas and david's friend moby (sammo hung), a private detective, is employed to find sylvia and her mother, but other interested parties are also on their trail. as the four come together, they clash with mondale (pepe sancho) and his men...

not including the 'lucky stars' films, 'wheels on meals' falls between the two other major, on screen, collaborations between the 'three brothers' (jackie chan, yuen biao and sammo hung): 'project a - part 1' and 'dragons forever'. it's a close run thing, but i'd say that this is my favourite of the three.

this is a really fun film; you have jackie, sammo and biao on top form, in terms of action and comedy, they're surrounded by a great supporting cast (including lola forner, benny "the jet" urquidez, keith vitali and cameos from richard ng and john shum) and the script delivers some of the best humour and action.

from the initial rumble with blacky ko's biker gang to the finale, which feaures the first of two legendary one-on-ones between jackie and benny urquidez, 'wheels on meals' never fails to deliver. yes, that crap pun was intended...

the new 'platinum edition' dvd from 'hong kong legends' is great; i particularly enjoyed hearing benny urquidez and keith vitali talk at length about their involvement in the film. both men show great affection for the time they spent working with the three brothers and it's great to hear them talk about it.

excellent stuff!

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/20/2006
Summary: Love it

Although often thought of as a Jackie Chan film, this 1984 classic was the brainchild of director Sammo Hung.

Once again, Sammo decided to set the film in a modern setting – something he’d done previously on recent films like Carry on Pickpocket and Winners and Sinners. The success of this film was one of the many reasons for the decline in the traditional Kung Fu period piece. After so many years of Ming, Qing, Sung, Tang etc dynasty films, Sammo probably thought it was time to put a more modern spin on Hong Kong’s unique action style. Plus, the end of the road for the legendary Shaw Brothers studio was in sight, which probably also spurred him on to do something different.

Set in modern day (at the time) Barcelona, this plays more like a fairy-tale than an action film. You have the down-on-her-luck Princess (Lola Forna), a creepy old castle, an evil count, and a trio of would-be heroes (that would be Jackie, Sammo and Yuen Biao, obviously). Everyone, regardless of nationality, speaks perfect Cantonese and no one speaks Spanish. Ever.

The whole tone is upbeat and there’s an innocence to the characters that’s hard not to like. Even the somewhat seedy failed private eye Moby (Sammo) has a heart of gold (and a bad hairstyle).

The action scenes are superb, although they do keep you waiting for a while. However, unlike other films in the genre where there are periods where the comedy prevails over the fighting and stunts (the prime example being the Lucky Stars films), there is usually so much fun stuff happening in this film that you tend not to notice. I particularly enjoyed Richard Ng’s cameo, and his solution to Jackie and Yuen’s dilemma when they are faced with a flat tyre. Yuen Biao has a really painful-looking stunt in this one as well. It’s funny that Jackie is always thought of as the stuntman of the three, but Yuen Biao’s fall/jump from a first storey window on to his backside on the hard concrete below looks foolishly risky for such a cheap laugh. Still, it’s things like this that makes people like me such die-hard fans.

So, on to Jackie’s duel with Benny “the Jet” Urquidez. It’s fantastic. Honestly, I could watch this again and again every day for years and still not get bored by it.

It’s hard to fault this movie – mainly because it appears to have been so much fun to make. If I had to pick a fault though, I would have liked more of the castle scene. It really is an inspired setting and provides some great atmosphere.

And the older I get, the better Lola Forna looks.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 04/12/2006
Summary: 9/10 - classic of the era

Sammo Hung's WINNERS & SINNERS was undoubtedly a comedy classic, mixing some sharp comedy with a little bit of kick-ass action... but I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who felt cheated that Jackie & Yuen Biao had so little screen time (especially since they are always made out to be the main stars in dvd/vhs packaging!). WHEELS ON MEALS is the film that sets the deal straight - it's very much like WINNERS AND SINNERS but with Jackie & Biao in the spotlight, or the sunlight I suppose, since the film also doubled as a nice holiday in Barcelona for the cast and crew ;)

The plot for the film is not terribly complicated... Jackie & Biao work a hotdog stand in Barcelona whilst Sammo works for a private detective. A beautiful girl (Lola Forner) enters their lives and turns them upside down. The plot is used more as a mine for situational comedy and some action/stunt work than as an attempt at delivering a deep story. The script is well written though, and Sammo's talent for comedy direction is given ample chance to shine. Action is fairly sparse for most of the film, just the odd sprinkle here and there to remind us what these boys are capable of... but it all builds to a grand finale where they really get let loose. The fight between Jackie & Benny "The Jet" Urquidez is always spoken of in hushed tones of reverence amongst the fanboys... and quite rightfully so. The two really go at each other with a ferociousness and speed that shows just how far things had come from the punch-and-block choreography of the 70's (largely because of Sammo and Jackie's influence). It's a brutal fight with a lot of full contact - a great demonstration of two guys in peak fighting form. Yuen Biao's action relies a lot more on acrobatics, but again we are reminded just how incredibly talented these guys were at their peak.

It should be mentioned that the film is set in some alternate version of Barcelona where everybody speaks Cantonese - either that or all the foreign cast members are badly dubbed, I guess ;-) Better than having the three brothers dubbed into Spanish, I guess :p Traditionally, western actors in HK films have not come across well... in WoM everyone does a pretty good job though! Especially Lola Forner, who survives her dubbing and even comes out as a likeable character and a good actress. And yes, it probably helps that she's very nice to look at :p She certainly seems to have been commited to and enthusiastic about the film and her role.

Good script, good action, good production values and great use of the "exotic" location... Wheels On Meals is a winner!

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/27/2005

Okay, Wheels on Meals does have a silly title (it was originally titled Meals on Wheels, but superstitious executives at Golden Harvest changed it after two high-profile movies starting with "m" flopped) but it is one of Jackie Chan's best films from this period. Gimmick movies are normally a hit-or-miss proposition (in this instance, using a European location and a large, racially diverse cast); luckily, this one works. Though the script isn't really too solid and there are definitely some scenes (mostly attempts at comedy) which could have been trimmed or cut completely, Wheels on Meals sports some of the most impressive fight sequences ever to come out of Hong Kong (via way of Spain in this case).

The story has Chan and Yuen Biao as two buddies running a fast-food truck in Spain who both fall in love with pickpocket Lola Forner (a former Miss Spain offscreen who also appeared in Armour of God). They notice a shady looking character (Hung, who was in his really bad jheri-curl phase at this point) following her about and decide to confront him. It turns out Hung is a private eye hired to protect Forner, who is really a rich heiress. After she is kidnapped, the "three brothers" join forces to rescue her. The exposition is really just fluff to get to the action sequences, which are great. Wheels on Meals' highlight has to be the ass-stomping finale, most specifically the battle between Chan and Benny Uriquedez -- they got so into this matchup that they both ended up hurting each other for real. This is good stuff all around for martial arts fans and well worth checking out.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 05/02/2003
Summary: Great Action, Low Key Comedy.

This is a little gem, nothing outstanding until you get to the fights but Benny The Jet and Jackie Chan out do themselves here. The low key comedy is very charming and funny. Watch it in English dub though as Sammo's voice is hilarious and the improved music is essential to the main fight.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/13/2002
Summary: Another Lucky Stars

This is more of a Lucky Stars movie in a way. Jackie, Biao & Sammo hook up once again for another action comedy. Okay, but dragged for last 40 or so minutes. The last fights go on too long. Check out Richard Ng & John Shum at the mental hospital!

Not bad, everyone should watch it, but not as good when you watch it more than twice I think.

Rating: 3/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/05/2001
Summary: One of Jackie's BEST!!

A very funny movie with lots of action and stunts!! his "2 brothers" are in this which enhances the film in more!!
I wont say much since there are so many reviews but i am a big Jackie fan and seen lots of his movies and this a must SEE!!

Watch for the best one on one fight you will ever see!!


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: dragyn
Date: 02/18/2001
Summary: The Best Fight On Celluloid

The joy of "Wheels on Meals" (as with all Jackie Chan movies) lies not in the plot, but rather in the fighting and stunts. Here, we are also lucky enough to find the extra treat of Jackie Chan, Samo Hung and Yuen Biao all onscreen silumtaneously.

The humour is good too, made extra enjoyable by the playful interaction between the three opera school "brothers". As ever, there is an annoying female, this time coming in the shape of former Miss Spain, Lola Forner, who Chan abviously liked enough to revive later and cast alongside him in "Armour of God".

The real treat comes with the final fight, which takes place inside a castle no less. It pits Chan against famed kickboxer and Japanse folk-hero Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, and Biao against kickboxing champ Keith Vitali, and Hung against a guy with a sword (I don't know his name!).

Both Biao and Hung put in good, solid fights, while Chan gives his greatest fight on film. He dances and shrugs and skips, making the powerful Urquidez look almost sluggish by comparison, although he certainly makes a very formiddable, believable aponent. There is enough comedy injected into the scene to make the whole affair light-hearted, but the action is very real and solid.

Many people have named this legendary fight as the greates fight ever captured on celluloid. It certainly stands as the ebst I have seen; I even prefer it to Bruce Lee's amazing fight with Chuck Norris in "Way of the Dragon", because the Chan/Urquidez fight has the added and welcomed ingredient of comedy.

Interesting trivia: "Wheels on Meals" was originally called "Meals on Wheels" but Golden Harvest changed the name when they decided that "M" was an unlucky letter to begin with.

Reviewed by: Fhrx
Date: 03/31/2000
Summary: Absolute gem from the brothers...

“Wheels on Meals” sees Jackie Chan team up with his brothers Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung on yet another action packed adventure. The team works so well together in this one, you’ll want to watch it again and again.

The story starts with Jackie and Biao operating a very successful lunch truck business in beautiful downtown Barcelona, Spain. They soon join up with bumbling detective Sammo Hung to find and protect a Spanish Girl named Gloria who is the target of the local power hungry count. The count is trying to kidnap Gloria so as too inherit her recently departed fathers fortune. However, her fathers butler hires Sammo to find her and protect her.

Needless to say, the count isn’t going to stop at anything and he has some pretty impressive firepower up his sleeve as well. Besides being an expert fencer himself he has a ton of hit men and his best guard – Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez!

Good action scenes and some very cute stunts, especially JC and YB on their skateboards. The fight scenes are all magnificent and the final one has to be seen by anyone who calls themselves a Jackie fan.

The final fight features all three of them up against the three worst bad guys and is an absolute masterpiece. Hailed by many as one of the best fights ever filmed, Jackie’s bout against 'The Jet' is just incredible.

Benny’s kickboxing combinations and techniques work very well against Jackie’s Kung-Fu style and both men really give their all for this one. One kick where Benny blows out some candles behind a ducking Jackie with the breeze from the sheer force of the kick is terrific. Towards the end you can visibly see just how tired both men are getting and the exchanges just get better as each puts more and more effort in.

Sammo, as always, puts in impressive and funny effort and while not Biao’s best effort onscreen, he still puts in a good fight.

Overall I give Wheels on Meals 8.5/10

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao have a booming Chinese lunch-truck business in Barcelona, Spain. Samo Hung plays a muddled detective trying to solve a case involving a mystery woman called Gloria. As Samo discovers the villainous elements that try to prevent him from finding Gloria, he runs into Jackie and Biao. The three dispense with the criminals, find Gloria, and manage to become friends through this action-packed and hysterically funny ordeal.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Chan, Hung and Biao are back again in this kung fu comedy about the boys in Barcelona. However it does tend to get a little silly in some parts but still manages to entertain with many laughs and some great fights. "Inside Kung Fu" magazine rates the Jackie Chan vs Urquidez fight as one the greatest of all time.


[Reviewed by Dave Warner]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Another high-kicking mixture of good stunt-work and martial arts action, as Chan his brother are forced to take time out from running their mobile food-bar to deal with some villains who are after a girl.


[Reviewed by Elliot's Guide to Films on Video]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Another one of my all-time favorite Jackie Chan (et al) movies!Great action/comedy! If you're a Jackie Chan fan, you'll love this film! Guaranteed. 'Nuff said.

[Reviewed by Jay Fong]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

In Spain, where everyone speaks fluent Mandarin, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao operate a food truck, and join forces with detective Samo Hung to save an over-cosmetized heiress. The sieve-like plot and annoying buddy-buddy banter tend to get in the way of the goods: a trio of solid fight/chase scenes.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 5