Wheels on Meals is the second film in what we are calling the 3 Dragons Trilogy.
The title comes from the fact that Golden Harvest had produced 2 movies previously beginning with the letter “M” both of which flopped. Superstition of this happening again caused the switch from Meals on Wheels to Wheels on Meals.
Sylvia (Lola Forner) has no idea she is an heiress to fortune and title, unknowingly she involves Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Yuen Biao), two friends who own and operate a food truck, and their bumbling detective friend Moby (Sammo Hung) into a martial arts adventure across Barcelona.
This film is a joy to watch from the opening montage of Thomas and David waking up and training to start their day and having to put up with their Casanova-esque neighbor Dino. This is easily the most consistently funny of the trilogy with what felt like an Ealing style comedy influence along with the trademark slapstick we have come to expect.
The scale of this is bigger not only with the film being made on location in Barcelona and their Hi-Tech food delivery system (state of the art Mitsubushi L300 van, Chan has a long standing arrangement/sponsorship wth the company ) but from the first action scene involving Jackie Chan and Yeun Biao playing Robin Hood and taking on a gang of bikers in square full of people, perhaps not all of them extras.
The situation comedy is ramped up as well, from minor characters who pop in and out to Sammo’s almost parody of a 40’s gumshoe, the highlight of which is his answering of a phonecall. Some of the funniest scenes occur when our pair go to visit Davids father in hospital
Although used to working with a close knit family of actors , Chan and Hung looked further afield for new faces and found Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and Kieth Vitali who play Mondales Henchmen.
After so many years in martial arts cinema where women can take care of themselves , the climax of this movie is a damsel in distress situation where our 3 Dragons have to storm a castle. Even though the setting is modern 1980’s Spain this final act has a feel of classic swashbuckling adventure harking back to Chan's line of “lets play Robin Hood”.
We are treated to an explosive finale with both humour and full on action in equal measure, from Yuen Biao's cheeky encounter with Kieth Vitali where he flips kicks and busts a move while evading Vitali's skillful and precise kicking game. Sammo tries to give a helping hand to his brothers on his way to an encounter with Mondale where he shows off some possibly Wing Chun flavoured weapons ability.
The stars of this finale are undoubtedly Jackie Chan and Benny Urquidez with a scene stealing battle between two warriors which has gone on to be regarded as one of the best onscreen fights in the history of martial arts movies. This is the first time Chan and Urquidez worked together but it certainly doesn’t feel like it, it flows like they have done this together for years. The proficient way they move together is reminiscent of a dance, the speed timing and power portrayed is almost flawless and a beauty to behold. This fight also portrays a sense of realism with both combatants getting visibly more fatigued and beat up the longer it goes on. Chan’s switch up of his attitude to the fight when he realizes his opponent is stronger than him is rarely seen in this kind of action scene. We feel the stand out highlight of this scene is an Urquidez roundhouse kick thrown with such speed and prescicion it blows out a stand of candles.
As we said at the beginning of this review we feel this is consistently the funniest of the trilogy. It is the one re-watched the most and we both consider it our favourite of the three.
Thanks to very talented Mr Tony Stella for the use of his artwork you can see more of his work here https://www.tony-stella.com/
Also check out Tony's tribute to The Three Dragons here https://wrongreel.com/podcast/wr410-the-three-dragons/