TURBO KID is a genre-bending, gore-filled, sci-fi extravaganza that needs to be seen to be believed. From the opening credits on, it announces itself as a truly epic homage to the films of the 1980s, from BETTER OFF DEAD to PURPLE RAIN to BMX BANDITS. In the future — 1997 — the world has been ravaged by acid rain, and the land is barren. Through this post-apocalyptic world roams our protagonist (played by Munro Chambers) only known by the name “The Kid,” who rides through the land on his BMX bike, looking for supplies and items he can trade for drinkable water. He lives on his own, and does what he needs to do for survival.
At a bar, very similar to the Mos Eisley Cantina in STAR WARS, The Kid trades for a couple bottles of water and the shop keep throws in a copy of a comic book starring “Turbo Rider,” The Kid’s favorite hero and personal role model. It’s a great start to the day.
While at the bar, we are also introduced to Frederic the arm-wrestler (Aaron Jeffrey), the movie’s version of the Indiana Jones/ Han Solo/ Mad Max rogue loner archetype. He can take down the biggest and baddest of them, and do it with a smile. His accent is likely meant to put the audience in mind of the post-apocalyptic movies that came out of Australia during the 1980s. The Kid has a brief brush with Fredric when he invades Fredric’s personal space, or what he calls his “man bubble.”
Before returning to his home, the Kid stops at a run-down playground to sit and enjoy his new “Turbo Rider” comic book, and he’s soon surprised by an ethereal-looking girl (Laurence Leboeuf) close to him in age. She’s bubbly and cheerful, overjoyed that The Kid will be her new best friend. Her name is Apple, and how could it not be? The Kid doesn’t trust people and doesn’t want a best friend. Before taking off and leaving Apple in the dust, she slaps a bracelet on him (literally a slap bracelet) that is also a homing device.
When The Kid wakes up the next day, guess who’s on his bunker, touching all his things and invading his “man space”? Yup, it’s Apple, and she can’t be without her new best friend. The Kid accepts this reluctantly, and they head off scavenging the wasteland. Apple hops onto the back pegs of The Kid’s BMX bike, and they ride off. The Kid teaches Apple that she needs a weapon, and duct-tapes a lawn gnome to a a big piece of wood (a touch reminiscent of the video game Dead Rising) and now she has a “gnome stick.” Sounds pretty close to “boomstick”, and any reference to ARMY OF DARKNESS is okay by me!
Apple is kidnapped by a bounty hunter, and the Kid runs for his life. Wwhile being chased, the Kid falls through a hole in the ground, and quickly realizes he is in the spaceship of the real Turbo Rider! He takes Turbo Rider’s uniform from the ship, and finds a laser-blasting glove that looks very similar to the Nintendo “power glove.” The Kid learns quickly learns that the glove shoots laser beams that can annihilate his enemies, and the over-the-top gore begins!
The Kid learns that Apple has been taken to Zeus, a villain played masterfully by genre legend Michael Ironside (SCANNERS, STARSHIP TROOPERS)! Zeus juices people, harvesting the water from their bodies. Of course, after talking a big talk, The Kid’s new laser blaster runs right out of energy, and he is thrown into the pool to be juiced, alongside Apple and Fredric the armwrestler. Like any good ragtag group trying to right the wrongs of the world, the three fight their way out, and soon there are geysers of blood and mountains of gore!
During the daring battle and the escape, Apple gets shot, but doesn’t die. The Kid learns she is a robot! Yes! Robots are awesome! Unfortunately, if she doesn’t get a new bio-energy source she is going to die for good, so the duo head for the robot graveyard to get a new one. All the while they are being hunted by bounty hunters, because Zeus doesn’t like being made a fool of. The Kid is knocked out by the gas in the robot grave and is rescued by Frederic, and they are met by Zeus and his henchmen. An epic battle ensues, complete with blood, gore, and complete awesomeness!
TURBO KID is so much fucking fun it blows my mind. This homage to an era is carried off so well that a friend of mine actually thought it was made in the 1980s. The score by Jean-Philippe Bernier and Jean-Nicolas Leupi is synth-driven perfection, and the songs on the soundtrack feel like the best of ’80s arena rock that never existed. The film’s characters are intentionally, endearingly awkward. It’s as characters from a Jared Hess film were thrown into SOLAR BABIES, mixed with a little Power Rangers, and some obscenities were layered on for good measure.
TURBO KID is the most fun I’ve had seeing a film since HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. There has got to be something in the water up there in Canada, because they have their faux-grindhouse game on point. TURBO KID is the finest combination of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and comedy I’ve seen in a long time. If you like Italian post -apocalyptic films from the 1980s, BMX bikes, cassette tapes, and wish that HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN had a bit of a softer side, then you’ll love TURBO KID. Highly recommended.