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  • Benjamin May

Wheels on Meals (1984) Review

Cousins Thomas and David are the premier skateboarding, food-van operating team in Barcelona. One day, the two visit David's father at the local asylum, where they meet the attractive and charming Sylvia, the daughter of David's father's girlfriend. David is smitten, but doesn't act upon his desires. Later, they run into Sylvia again, inviting her back to their apartment. She stays the night, robs them, and disappears the next morning onto the streets of Spain. Moby is a bumbling private detective searching in vain for the heiress of a vast fortune. The lives of the four intertwine in ways both unexpected and entertaining in this vastly enjoyable cinematic extravaganza, 'Wheels on Meals.'

Also known as 'Spartan X,' the film is a brilliant roller-coaster-ride of amusement on every level. Edward Tang and Johnny Lee's story and screenplay is filled to the brim with action, witty banter and clever set-pieces. The film rockets along at a brisk pace towards an explosive finale that is as ridiculous as it is technically impressive. It's the kind of film that will leave you shaking your head in amazement at the abilities and energy of the performers- not to mention the fact that no-one died while making it.

Directed by Sammo Hung- who plays Moby- the film is guaranteed to please any fan of Hong Kong cinema. The cinematography is crisp and inventive, while Peter Cheung's remarkably astute editing keeps the somewhat frantic proceedings both cohesive and compelling. Chris Babida and Siu-Lam Tang's musical score is catchy and atmospheric, making especially good use of songs by Toshiyuki Kimori, working under the name Kirth Morrison. Kimori's main theme (used for years without Larry Johnston's lyrics by the wrestling legend Mitsuharu Misawa) is one of the snappiest and most memorable of any martial arts film to date.

The choreography of the stunts and fight scenes in 'Wheels on Meals' is consummate work that is incredible to behold. Graceful but deadly, the fight sequences are some of the best ever seen in a film. It is, after all, the work of the master of action-comedy, Jackie Chan (along with his trusty JC Stunt Team), so one shouldn't be too surprised. There are few whose on screen presence is as charming, as magnetic and as likable as Jackie's, and he proves that notion once again here. Starring as Thomas, he, Sammo and Yuen Biao- playing David- share a great chemistry, giving strong performances both in terms of acting and martial arts.

Lola Forner co-stars as the mysterious Sylvia, and brings much energy and life to the character which- to be frank- is a little underwritten. She performs admirably though, leaving an indelible impression on the viewer with her wit, poise and beauty. Fans of the 'Three Brothers'- as the trio of Jackie, Sammo and Yuen are known- will delight in the small but memorable cameos from Richard Ng and John Shum, and the great Benny Urquidez makes an unforgettable appearance opposite Jackie that is breath-taking and- quite rightly- considered one of the best fight sequences of all time.

'Wheels on Meals' is a funny, frenetic and fantastic action-comedy that will keep you glued to the screen for the whole of its' runtime. The story may be simple, but it's filled with easy humor and impressive displays of martial arts prowess. The cast all give good performances too, and most audiences should find the film an unmitigated pleasure. 'Wheels on Meals' is- to make a long story short- a martial arts masterpiece that mustn't be missed.


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