Title: Turbo Kid
Director: Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari
Plot: In a post-apocalyptic future, a BMX riding scavenger known only as the Kid (Simard) is forced to become a hero when he meets a mysterious girl called Apple (Leboeuf). Now assuming the role of his favourite comic book character and armed with an ancient powerful weapon, he must face the sadistic and self-proclaimed leader of the wasteland Zeus (Ironside)
Review: Originally starting life as the curious short film “T For Turbo” created for the original “ABC’s of Death” only to ultimately not make the cut, the film would instead remain a curiosity passed around cult / genre cinema fans who recognised its throwback 80’s styling, while at the same time lapping up its neo-grindhouse approach to gore and violence which thankfully has been carried across now it’s been turned into a full length feature. While this is unquestionably another entry in the opinion dividing Neo-grindhouse genre, which started with the Tarantino / Rodriguez double header “Grindhouse” and has since spawned in its wake films such as “Hobo With A Shotgun” let alone paving the way for the films of “Astron-6” who have so far given us the likes of “Father’s Day” and “Manborg”. However unlike the previous entries into this genre here we actually have a film finally which has some heart and warmth, rather than an onslaught of splatter and nods to the era these films are so fondly paying homage to.
Opening with the Kid as he embarks on one of his scavenger runs, this is a world perfectly introduced during these opening moments for while these barren and charred wastelands might seem familiar of countless other post-apocalyptic movies, the significant difference here is the lack of transport options with no active vehicles or even horses to ride, the surviving population are forced to get around on that other 80’s staple – the BMX bike! This fact alone really makes the film stand out for while it’s a cool aesthetic to have the hero riding around the wasteland on his BMX, it looks sheer bonkers when you see Zeus henchmen also do the same thing.
The Kid as his name suggests views the world with a wide eyed curiosity with every scrap of the old world, providing something of interest or to be utilised, this childlike behaviour becoming more clear towards the end of the film when we discover what happened to his family, but even his naivety is nothing compared to Apple who literally views the world with a wide eyed wonder, let alone a permeant upbeat nature, again something which is explained later in the film rather than leaving the audience to wonder if Leboeuf was just making some unique choices with her portrayal of this character.
When it comes to the villains Ironside is once more on top villainous duties as the eyepatch wearing sadist Zeus, who thinks little of having his captives’ battle to the death for his personal amusement before using the machine he’s constructed to extract the water from their bodies. At the same time it’s a warped humour that he brings to the film, as he gives us such great moments as belating a captive whose intestines have been attached to a bicycle wheel for giving up before he had a chance to use his invention, more so for how long it took them to set it up. The most random thing though is how similar he looks to Dennis Hopper in “Waterworld” which seems to be more of a coincidence than anything, especially when the two characters share nothing more than a wardrobe. At the same time he is also joined by possibly one of the best henchmen since General Kael in “Willow” with his own skull mask wearing henchmen “Skeletron” (Wright) who might be one of the best character designs since “The Plague” from “Hobo With A Shotgun” and who like them might run the risk of overshadowing the other characters in the film, especially with his wrist mounted buzzsaw blade launcher and the fact that he is completely mute for the whole film which only makes him more of a badass.
The film moves at a decent pace while certainly having more heart than so many of its neo-grindhouse kindred who tend to get so lost on the splatter and creating mood that they forget that the audience has to actually like the characters they are following. At the same time the connection between the Kid and Apple feels completely natural and never forced, even if it is an unusual connection with her permanent hyperactivity and his naivety yet somehow it works. Interesting this angle was seemingly only as well worked due to budget restraints forcing the directors to scale back some of their intended action scenes which might have worked for the better. Despite the action being scaled back from the film makers original intentions, this does not however mean that the film is lacking as we get several fun action scenes including a spectacular finale which insures that it ends on a high note. At the same time these scenes are heavy on splatter as bodies explode into bloody showers and the kills being especially creative and only added to by the use of practical effects and minimal CGI which is certainly a welcome sight in these CGI heavy times.
While certainly an highly original concept and one I would love to see continued further, it does however feel sluggish in places and as such took longer than I would have liked for the film to find its direction, with the finale unquestionably really clawing back a lot for this film and inturn adding to the experience. That being said this is the sort of film which will unquestionably play well for the cult cinema crowds which I've little doubt it will soon become a regular feature, while at the same time perhaps too random for the mainstream crowd to appreciate. As such it only makes me the more sadder that we live in these times were video stores are few and far between as this is the sort of film which would thrive on rental, making me hope that its snapped up by one of the streaming services as soon as possible to ensure it finds the audience it deserves.