Wheels On Meals (1984)

Directed by
Classic of the era
Reviewed by Simon on 2006-04-12

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 Chan and 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 & 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 and 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 suppose :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!