2015 / Directors. Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
TURBO KID is a film made by kids of the 80s for kids of the 80s. I too am a kid from the 80s, which makes me an adult who loves everything about my youth. Sure, I might now be in my mid 30s but the inner child in me is alive and well. So to the kids of today, SCREW YOU! This is a movie for my generation... but if you're nice, we might let you watch it.
Set in a post-apocalyptic 1997 wasteland, it tells the story of a kid who roams the land alone. He survives by scavenging and bartering in a nearby nomad community and he lives in an underground bunker. When a girl comes along and makes herself his companion, they quickly finds themselves exposed to the villainous and sadistic leader of the wasteland. The girl is captured and the kid must pluck up the guts to rescue her and take on the pack of marauding henchmen. When he stumbles across a mysterious military-style wreckage he suddenly becomes the bearer of a super-power turbo-charged glove that obliterates anything or one within it's path. And what ensues is a highly charged sci-fi action adventure packed to the brim with ultra-violence, BMX bicycles and a shit-tonne of amazing practical FX.
The 1980's era of adventure cinema alive and well at the moment with a heap of exciting up-and coming young filmmakers. The nostalgia of that time is providing inspiration for a whole lot of young directors who are crafting all sorts of great throwback movies. Astron-6 have given us a stack of incredible treats like FATHER'S DAY and MANBORG, while other like-minded titles include KUNG FURY, SUPER-8 and now TURBO KID.
The project began as a short film called T IS FOR TURBO, which was contender for the first ABC'S OF DEATH film. With the short not making the final cut of the completed film the three directors (Francois Simard, Amouk Whissell and Yoren-Karl Whissell) went ahead and began to develop their concept into a feature film. With the assistance of funding bodies stretching as far as New Zealand, they managed to make a film that bursts onto the screen with an exuberance and joy that only a child of the 80s can truly appreciate to the fullest.
The production design is wonderful and draws its influence from the countless post-apocalyptic films of that decade. From the obvious (MAD MAX) to the obscure (SALUTE THE JUGGER) and everything in between. The characters and their costume designs are also derived from some of the weirder and eccentric movies and I would like to think that some of the inspiration was taken from the stunning creations of Albert Pyun during that time (RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, CYBORG). The cinematography, the score and the colour grading are all deliberately imitative and their effectiveness is unmistakable.
Most impressive of all is the abundance of practical special FX. It is a film oozing with splattered blood and gooey guts. Characters are killed in the most deliciously grotesque ways and the prosthetics are absolutely awesome. Heads are sliced in ways you could scarcely imagine, bodies parts are removed in barbaric fashion and entrails are extracted in a way that engineers would applaud. Suffice to say that TURBO KID is not for the squeamish, but it sure as hell IS for anyone looking for a bloody good time and a reason to rejoice. I am sure there are a few elements of CGI hidden amongst it all, but wherever they lie they are subtle and used strictly to compliment the real stuff.
The cast is comprised mostly of newcomers, with the two lead actors recognisable from Canadian television but new to most international audiences. They are both perfectly cast and share a great on screen chemistry. They're joined by Aaron Jeffery, an Aussie actor know for his Logie winning performance on McLeod's Daughters and he plays an outback anti-hero. He brings a rugged, international flavour to the wasteland landscape that helps bring the western-genre elements to the fore. And then there's Michael Ironside as the evil leader. Suddenly the guy looks a lot like Paul Sorvino and his aged and stocky appearance is honestly surprising at first. But who else plays a bad guy as well as him? He strides into the film with a blissful confidence that suggests he was having a ball. With a character and performance reminiscent of The Toe Cutter from MAD MAX and The Deacon from WATERWORLD (not 80s, I know) he preaches a merciless sermon with a take-no-prisoners attitude as he sadistically maims his detractors in cruel and uncompromising ways.
The best thing about TURBO KID is that it's a kids movie that kids can't watch. Its very aesthetic is one that tweens will gravitate towards, and yet the movie is so extreme in its violence that any respectable parent would forbid it. Of course when I was a kid I would have found away (fuck what mum & dad thought) BUT I would NEVER* suggest that kids of today find a sneaky way of watching it. That would be irresponsible**.
**AH FUCK IT!