AKA Spartan X, Million Dollar Heiress
Starring Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Lola Forner, Benny Urquidez, Keith Vitali, Pepe Sancho, Paul Chang Chung, Richard Ng, John Shum Kin-Fun, Wu Ma
Directed by Sammo Hung
Expectations: The highest.
Wheels on Meals is an old favorite, but it’s one of those movies that slipped through the cracks and I haven’t seen it in over 10 years. In the intervening years many films have come and gone, leaving very little of my memories of this film intact, but that’s OK because watching it this time around was almost like seeing it again for the first time. And with a film as enjoyable as Wheels on Meals, that’s a real gift.
What’s interesting about Wheels on Meals is that on the surface it’s a very simple, almost storyless film. So much of the first half is just random antics and gags, and while they’re all incredibly entertaining, there isn’t a traditional drive to them like you expect a movie to have. But as the film progresses it becomes apparent that the film’s plotting is actually very tight, controlled and slowly bringing the pieces together. In a way it feels similar to the fight choreography of the film; it’s simply flawless.
Sammo Hung is also a very underrated director in the grand world of cinema. Obviously, martial arts fans all know and love his work, but a film as expertly paced and edited as Wheels on Meals really should be applauded beyond our cult circles. The editing is especially good throughout the action sequences, with the cuts to slow-motion shots in the midst of the fury standing out the most. The one that everyone remembers, where Jackie blasts Benny The Jet with a punch to the face, is the standout example of this, but there’s a bunch of really smart uses of this through the whole film that punctuate moments that deserve it. Sammo also makes fantastic use of quickly cutting to a reverse shot mid-fight to give us a more visceral place amidst the action. It makes the movement sing, and it helps to create some of the best action ever put to film.
Wheels on Meals is one of my favorite Jackie Chan films, and it’s one that I respect and appreciate more than ever after finally seeing it with adult eyes. Right from the opening moments, the film put me in my happy place and I sat there for the next 108 minutes with a big ol’ smile on my face. It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s got Sammo’s glorious Chinese Jheri Curl, Yuen Biao’s ridiculous athleticism and Jackie Chan jumpkicking a dude off a motorcycle. You can’t ask for much more than that… and that only scratches the surface of the wonders than Wheels on Meals has to offer. Watch it and thank me later.
And check out my buddy Uncle Jasper’s review from a few years back, too!
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan: Sammo Hung’s My Lucky Stars! See ya then!