Wheels on Meals
|Wheels on Meals|
|Cantonese||Faai3 Caan1 Ce1|
|Directed by||Samo Hung|
|Produced by||Raymond Chow|
|Written by||Edward Tang
|Music by||Chris Barbida
|Edited by||Peter Cheung Yiu-chung|
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
|Running time||104 minutes|
Wheels on Meals (traditional Chinese: 快餐車; simplified Chinese: 快餐车) is a 1984 Hong Kong martial arts comedy film written and directed by Sammo Hung, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao.
The film's name was actually supposed to be more sensibly titled Meals on Wheels. However, superstitious Golden Harvest executives demanded the name change because their two previous films with titles that began with the letter 'M' – Megaforce and Menage A Trois – were both box office flops.
Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Yuen Biao) are cousins who run a fast food van in Barcelona. The food is delivered by Thomas, who rushes around the square on a skateboard. After fending off a biker gang they continue business as normal.
They go and visit David's father who is in a mental institution and bump into Sylvia (Lola Forner) who is the daughter of David's father's girl friend. Thomas encourages David to try to ask her out on a date and chickens out of this making the excuse she would have said no anyway.
Cut to the van serving food late at night where Thomas inadvertently bumps into Sylvia who is pretending to be a prostitute. But Sylvia is actually a pickpocket and she robs a man in a bed room and runs away to their fast food van.
Both Thomas and David are enamoured by her. But after allowing her to stay in their apartment that night, they wake to find Sylvia and their money gone. The next day, they bump into Moby (Sammo Hung), a bumbling private investigator who is also tracking Sylvia. They later discovered that Sylvia is the heir to a sizeable inheritance that a criminal gang is trying to steal from her. When she is kidnapped, Thomas, David, and Moby team up to save her, infiltrating the villains' castle and defeating them in a martial arts battle.
The three action star brothers, Yuen, Chan and Hung, are long time best friends and had been Peking Opera School colleagues in their youth. The release of Wheels on Meals came in the midst of their most prolific period working together as a trio. The three men had acted together on Chan's Project A and the first of Hung's original Lucky Stars trilogy, Winners and Sinners in 1983. Wheels on Meals was released in 1984, and a year later they were reunited twice more for the Lucky Stars semi-sequels My Lucky Stars and Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars. This was something of a golden period for Hong Kong cinema-goers, as three of the nation's most beloved action stars performed together on screen.
Wheels on Meals was the first of two films which paired star Jackie Chan against former professional kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez (the other being the 1988 film Dragons Forever). Their fight in this film is typically regarded as one of the greatest on-screen martial arts fights ever performed. At one point in the final battle between the pair, a spin-kick performed by Urquidez is so quick that the resulting airflow extinguishes a row of candles. This is shown onscreen, with no cuts or trick photography.
- Jackie Chan – Thomas
- Sammo Hung – Moby
- Yuen Biao – David
- Lola Forner – Sylvia
- Benny Urquidez – Thug #1
- Keith Vitali – Thug #2
- Herb Edelman – Henry Matt
- José Sancho – Mondale
- Susanna Sentís – Gloria
- Paul Chang– David's father
- Amparo Moreno - Susana
- Richard Ng – Mental Patient (Brilliant)
- John Shum – Mental Patient (Laughing)
- Wu Ma – Mental Patient (Clock)
- Lau Sau-leung – Mondale Punk
- Blackie Ko – Delinquent Biker
- Stanley Fung
Audio commentator Bey Logan explains why Sammo Hung decided to shoot the film outside of Hong Kong. By the time it was made in 1984, shooting in Hong Kong had become practically impossible – firstly, because the action stars had become so famous that they could not walk through the streets with impunity, and secondly due to the mounting difficulties in obtaining a permit from the government in order to film in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee had paved the way for Hong Kong filmmakers shooting abroad with the 1972 film Way of the Dragon, whose location filming was done in Italy, whereas the interiors had been shot at Golden Harvest studio.
When Hung took his cast and crew to Barcelona, he wanted to strongly establish the locations in Barcelona as real, and to avoid shooting interiors at Golden Harvest. In comparison to Hong Kong, the Spanish authorities were very cooperative in allowing the use of locations for filming, even for car chases and fight scenes.
Influence on popular culture
- The video game Kung-Fu Master was based on this film. The Japanese version of Kung-Fu Master was titled Spartan X and credited to be under license from Paragon Films Ltd, and Towa Promotion. The game in turn laid the foundations for the side-scrolling beat 'em up genre of video games.
- Japanese Pro Wrestler Mitsuharu Misawa used the theme song of the Japanese version of Wheels on Meals (named Spartan X) throughout his career wrestling under his real name.
Unlike the majority of Chan's later films, the standard DVD release of ‘‘Wheels on Meals’’ does not contain the usual outtakes over the final credits. However, a VHS release of the film did exist in the mid-1980s under the title Spartan X, which has the outtakes intact.
Awards and nominations
- 1985 Hong Kong Film Awards:
- Nominated: Best Action Choreography
Wheels on Meals grossed HK $21,465,013 in its Hong Kong theatrical run.
- "Trivia for Kuai can che (1984)". IMDb film listing. IMDb. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- "Wheels on Meals". AMG film listing. All Movie. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- "Seven Little Fortunes". Feature article. LoveAsianFilm. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- "Sammo Hung Profile". Kung Fu Cinema. Archived from the original on 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
- "Yuen Biao Profile". Kung Fu Cinema. Archived from the original on 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
- Wheels on Meals, Audio commentary Bey Logan Disc 1, Sammo Hung interview Disc 2 (DVD featurette) (DVD). Hong Kong Legends, UK. 1984 (film), 2001 (DVD). Check date values in:
- "Kung Fu Master (Coin-Op) by Data East". Great Game Database.com. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- Spencer, Spanner, The Tao of Beat-'em-ups, Eurogamer, 6 Feb 2008, Accessed 18 Mar 2009
- Kunkel, Bill; Worley, Joyce; Katz, Arnie, "The Furious Fists of Sega!", Computer Gaming World, Oct 1988, pp. 48-49
- Interview with Keith Vitali at cityonfire.com
- Wheels on Meals at the Internet Movie Database
- Wheels on Meals at AllMovie