by Peter Nielsen
I suppose it was inevitable that I would land on a “Jackie Chan movie” at one point. I like the movies he’s in, especially the early ones. Sure, some of his latter ones like The Medallion, Shanghai Knights or the Rush Hour movies are action-filled and lots of fun to watch, but I’m still partial to his early work. Police Story, Drunken Master or Project A for instance, are all movies I’ve enjoyed tremendously. More than once I might add! My friends and I grew up watching a crap-ton of martial arts movies. Some of them good, some of them bad and some of them were even “God-awfully” bad, but that didn’t stop us from devouring them anyway!
Every damn chance we got to rent these… we did! During this period they were all badly dubbed in English too, no original language in sight, remember? And you know what? We loved them! And to some extent, we still do! Well… I do, at least! We watched everything from dead serious drama to the downright silly stuff, but… the action was always there. And so was the old, wise and white-haired master! And assorted family members who were most often only there to get killed, thus sending the hero on a blood-filled revenge-spree! Sound familiar? A basic formula with only minor variations is what I’m getting at, and it worked. And, as the saying goes, if the damn thing ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
This was also around the time when we discovered Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung and the awesome movies they’ve done, both separately and together. Sammo Hung is not only a funny guy to watch onscreen, he’s also a good director and very skilled in doing fight choreography, which is evident in the movie I’ve chosen this week.
Wheels on Meals is one of my favorite “Jackie Chan movies” and one I hadn’t seen for many years before deciding to watch it again the other week. Jackie Chan stars alongside Biao Yuen (Once Upon A Time In China, Prodigal Son), another great martial artist, as Thomas and David (?) who owns a mobile restaurant together. They live a carefree life and spend most of their days working, training and visiting David’s father who’s a patient at a home for the mentally ill. Oh, yeah, and they sometimes fight local bullies who disturbs their customers. A couple of all round nice guys! David and Thomas, that is! Not the bullies, of course!
On one of the visits to the institution, they meet the new girlfriend of David’s father and her daughter Sylvia. They are both smitten by her, but don’t really know how to act around her, which leads to some funny and awkward situations. Sylvia is played by the beautiful Lola Forner, who’s also been in Armour of God, another movie starring Jackie Chan. She’s also been in a ton of Spanish movies and was Miss Spain in 1979.
Incidentally, this movie is set in Barcelona, Spain, with everyone speaking Chinese..? Yes, you read it right… everyone! Including the Spaniards, Americans and even one poor Italian dude! Yeah, don’t you just love it?
It turns out that Sylvia is a pickpocket living off of the streets, more or less, so our two friends decide to help her out. Unbeknownst to both them and her, she and her mother are apparently heirs to a vast fortune, and a man is looking for them, to sort out the details of the inheritance.
This is where Sammo Hung comes in! He’s great as Moby, the bumbling private investigator, who’s hired to find Sylvia and her mother. Oh, and as is always the case, there are a bunch of bad guys who wants to get their greedy little hands on the money too.
And there you have it! That’s basically the gist of the story. It’s not overly complicated, which these types of movies shouldn’t be, right? You’re supposed to sit back, relax and let yourself be entertained. And you will be entertained, I promise you that!
Sure, the humor is a bit silly at times, but one thing this movie isn’t, is boring! Jackie Chan, Biao Yuen and Sammo Hung are old friends and have known each other for a long time and it kind of shows, you know! It looks like they’re having fun.
Wheels on Meals also boasts some great stunts and as I stated earlier, great fight choreography. Especially in the final fights with the one between Jackie Chan and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez (Grosse Point Blank, Dragons Forever) being almost legendary among fans.
It’s a superbly well choreographed scene between two guys who’re not just actors doing fancy moves, but very skilled athletes who knows their shit! There’s no faking it here! Benny Urquidez has studied martial arts all his life and has won NUMEROUS championships as well as being a black belt in 9 different styles, and the man is still as active as ever.
The fight between Biao Yuen and Keith Vitali (Revenge of the Ninja, American Kickboxer) isn’t bad either, as these two are also very skilled in their art. Keith Vitali was named US National Karate Champion for 3 consecutive years in the late 70’s and early 80’s, as well as World Karate Champion one time. He’s apparently also considered to be one of the 10 best fighters of all time, so you see there’s no faking it here either.
As I mentioned earlier, Wheels on Meals is one of my favorites! It’s one I’ve seen many times and I’m sure I’ll be watching it many more times in the future. It’s an all-round enjoyable movie with some laugh out loud moments as well as some great action-scenes. If you’re a fan of this genre you should definitely check it out, and if you’re not… Well, why not give it a chance anyway? You never know, you might like it.
Until next time, my friends… The comment section below is all yours!