Arts

Cult Movie: Jackie Chan's Wheels on Meals offers a feast of 1980s fighting fun

Wheels on Meals is a 1980s Jackie Chan classic
Ralph McLean

Wheels On Meals

IF YOU love your Asian action comedies larger than life and totally unhinged there's much to enjoy in Wheels On Meals. Director Sammo Hung's 1984 epic is, not to put too fine a point on it, nuts – and it's all the better for that, frankly.

It's the tall tale of two cousins Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Yuen Biao) who've travelled to Barcelona where they are trying to make ends meet selling fast food from their tatty little burger van.

Their limited career opportunities are balanced out by the amount of good looking girls who hang around the city and the boys do their best to chase just about every one of them who passes by.

Before you know it, their eye for the ladies has brought them face to face with a Spanish pickpocket, Sylvia (Lola Former). Detective Moby (Hung) is hot on her trail as he thinks she might be the missing heiress he's been charged with tracking down. Soon, the two trouble prone cousins are thrown deep into the action as the chase starts in earnest.

As that slight storyline suggests, this is a flimsy 80s conceit that's all about style over content, but when the action rattles along at a breakneck speed and the madcap sequences arrive around every corner, who cares about that?

It also boasts an incredible trio of martial arts movie masters in Hung, Chan and Biao, all showing off and trying to outdo each other on the outrageous stunt front.

As you'd expect from the talent involved, the action choreography is top-notch throughout, and the setting of Barcelona is well utilised to add an odd air to the typical Asian action movie antics.

The fights are incredible (look out for a legendary fist fight between Chan and Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez that's much loved by fans the world over) and the stunts are genuinely breathtaking at times.

The blend of action, light-hearted 80s fun and old fashioned slapstick comedy is effective throughout and there's a wild, almost freeform quality to proceedings that makes you think it's all freewheeling towards one unholy car crash at some point.

Where things splutter a little is in the writing. There are a lot of uncomfortable moments when the leads are left to mutter inane dialogue to each other for what feels like an eternity. Such clunky linking of the rapid action sequences inevitably slows things down a little, but it's never long before another barnstorming fight scene or outrageous live action stunt comes along to save the day.

The latest Blu-ray of this prime slice of 80s martial arts madness comes courtesy of Eureka Entertainment and boasts a lush 2K restoration that upgrades the film from all previous video and DVD releases, plus a whole raft of impressive extras including archival interviews, blooper reels and even an option to enjoy that dodgy dialogue in either English or the original Cantonese.

With Chan, Hung and Biao all at the top of their game, Wheels on Meals is pretty hard to beat.

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