A Classic Jackie Chan Film Has One of the Best Duels in Action Movie History

A Classic Jackie Chan Film Has One of the Best Duels in Action Movie History

Jackie Chan’s duel with a champion kickboxer in Wheels on Meals highlights everything that makes the action star one of the genre’s best.
Over the years, Jackie Chan has thrown down with some of cinema’s toughest fighters. That has given him an impressive library of fights, often melding his talent with a keen eye for strong action and comedy choreography. When they gel perfectly, it elevates Chan’s battles to the upper echelons of global cinema — and one of the best examples might come from one of his silliest films.

One of the best fights of Chan’s career came in Wheels on Meals, serving as Chan’s first duel with kickboxing and martial arts legend Benny Urquidez. A tense brawl full of tight action, the scene takes on an entirely different energy when Chan shifts gears and introduces comedy into an otherwise impressive showcase — elevating a good scene into a truly great one. It’s also perfectly indicative of the surrounding film and highlights what continues to make Chan influential decades later.
Wheels on Meals Best Fight, Explained

Wheels on Meals focuses on Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Yuen Biao), a pair of cousins who operate a food truck in Barcelona. After Slyvia (Lola Forner), a local thief David has feelings for, becomes targeted by a mysterious gang, Thomas and David — along with their wannabee detective friend Moby (Ip Man 2 star Sammo Hung) — find themselves facing off with a host of threats in their efforts to help her discover the truth. Wheels on Meals isn’t the first film to team Chan, Biao and Hung up for an action-comedy, but it may be one of the best. There’s a lightness to the movie as a whole that doesn’t betray the action — which, while largely comedic, becomes something special late into the film.
Throughout Wheels on Meals, Thomas and David are able to hold their own against most of the gang’s members, save for two well-dressed henchmen of Mondale (José Sancho). Known simply as Thug #1 and Thung #2, they hold their own against the cousins. In the film’s climax, while Moby gets into a sword fight with the fencing master Mondale, Thomas and David square off against Thug #1 and Thug #2, respectively. Thomas’ fight with Thug #1 — played by real-life kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez — is a surprising and impressive showdown, with the Thug holding the advantage until Thomas decides to treat the confrontation less like a fight and more like a sparring match. It leads him to throw in more of the signature Jackie Chan silliness, which surprises the Thug long enough for Thomas to land some surprisingly heavy blows to win the fight.

Why Wheels on Meals’ Best Fight Is So Good
The fight between Thomas and the Thug remains one of the most memorable elements of a pretty strong action-comedy, a scene that highlights the strengths of both fighters. Already a champion kickboxer by the time Chan met him, Urquidez’s sheer skill as a fighter is evident in the sequence — especially in an unscripted beat where the sheer force from nearby kick snuffs out a number of nearby candles. He was also far from the first famous foe Chan threw down with. But what remains arguably the scenes’ greatest strength is the way it progresses and reflects the film around it. Wheels on Meals wasn’t the first film to highlight a fusion of action and comedy, but that loose and largely goofy tone benefits the entire movie. At various points in the narrative, Mondale and his forces try to turn an otherwise light-hearted story into a more dangerous one. The two primary Thugs working for Mondale service this idea, as their presence suddenly forces the unstoppable Thomas and David to retreat, setting off one of the film’s tensest sequences as they try to hide from them.

The climactic fight initially carries on similarly, with Thomas holding his own but proving incapable of outright defeating the Thug. But in a stroke of brilliance, Thomas shifts gears and gives the fight a sillier edge. He incorporates props like a chair into his movements and openly goads his opponent to come out swinging. The drama is instantly deflated, and Thomas gains an edge he’d previously lacked — with his genuine skill and strength landing with far more impressive strength.
There are moments throughout Wheels on Meals that consistently threaten to upend the largely silly world that Thomas and David inhabit, and their attempts to match their opponents in intensity can’t work. But when they embrace the silly approach inherent to their characters, they earn victories over the film’s toughest opponents. Wheels on Meals has one of Jackie Chan’s best fights, which only becomes better when one takes it with the rest of the film and what it says about Chan’s career as a whole. Embracing a sense of fun can produce unexpected results and turn a challenge into a victory.

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