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    Turbo Kid (2015): Movie Review

    “A fun and blood-thirsty homage to retro action-adventure films.” 

    “This is the future. This is the year 1997.”

    Thus begins the Mad Max kiddie version Turbo Kid, the debut feature of directors-screenwriters Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Popularly known as the RKSS (Road Kill Super Stars), the Quebec trio breaks from making shorts to bring homage to ‘80s cult classic action adventure films. In this yesteryear’s future, water has become the most treasured resource and one kid will rise to stop the villain that controls it.

    Humanity is doomed with acid rain, endless war and robot revolution. Civilizations have collapsed and each man is for himself. The Kid (Munro Chambers), a nameless boy who is a Turbo Man comic-book fan, lives in an underground bunker in one of the Wasteland zones. Riding his bike, he scavenges the surrounding area and trades his finds to marketer Bagu (Romano Orzari) for bottles of scarce drinking water. Later, he comes across an overeager pink-haired drifter named Apple. With a tracking device she puts on his wrist, she follows him around, much to The Kid’s dismay.

    Unfortunately, Apple is abducted by the BMX “biker” gang, the ruthless henchmen of sadistic, one-eyed Zeus (Michael Ironside). Zeus has one vicious hobby – he pits his men against the ill-fated captives. The corpses are then fed into an extractor that juices the water out. After stumbling into what appears to be the remains of Turbo Man (actually a bygone soldier), The Kid dons the hero’s trademark red helmet, knee and shoulder pads and some sort of a Turbo laser blaster.

    Apple and Frederic (Aaron Jeffery), a wandering cowboy and arm-wrestling champion, find themselves face-to-face with Zeus’ right-hand man Skeletron (Edwin Wright), a muted, saw-blade-handed killer, and the rest of the army. Turbo Kid comes to their rescue which sets off a chain of battle of survival in the water-thirsty land. 

    Turbo Kid is a delightful treat for the aging ‘80s boys and a pleasing chance for the younger ones to see how things were done back in the era. It is not an old movie; it simply foregoes the complexities of modern filmmaking and takes on the laborious and firm practical approach to bringing superhero adventures to life. The film is generally sweet-natured and unexpectedly pleasing. Yes, it is entertaining despite the fact that it never runs out of blood and guts. Geysers of blood are overflowing and intestines are just dangling around or are being wickedly pulled out. Characters are easily amputated, sliced up, disembowelled, impaled and decapitated. This weightless violence becomes excessive and revolting at some points. But then, there is a killing spree and the picture is simply not modest about it. It is like mixing outrageous gore to what is supposed to be children’s stuff.

    All those bloody exhibitions are achieved through practical effects, soliciting a more realistic and literally gut-wrenching response. CGI is minimal, almost indiscernible. Obviously, the film is made on such low budget; yet, it manages to be resourceful and creative. Barren lands and empty warehouses are turned into post-apocalyptic dystopias while other production elements appear to have been recycled from junkyard scraps. Cinematography also matches the inexpensiveness of the whole feature. The retro musical score is remarkable and infectious though.

    Other than its creativity and blood-thirstiness, the film adds nothing new to the genre. Voiceovers are cheesy and lines are generic. They could have been funnier, too. Not only that violence is over-the-top but the action sequences, though seemingly have passable choreography, is sloppily executed, resulting to less dynamics and momentum.

    Leboeuf is the winner in this as her carelessly unrestrained performance as Apple shines through. She is completely charming with that doll face and enthusiastic optimism. She is the film’s life. Chambers is also quite good with his undeniable devotion and intelligent timing. Together, they have tender moments which are lovely and affecting. Being a veteran to the genre, Ironside is efficient switching back-and-forth between being grim and absurd. 

    Turbo Kid is humbly airless and bloody. It is conventional and unoriginal. It offers nothing much except warm nostalgia, stirring fond memories or exciting curiosity. With all its gore, it is surprisingly enjoyable, possibly because at its core, the film is well-meaning, honest and good-natured. 

    Production companies: EMA Films, T&A Films 
    Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Aaron Jeffery, Edwin Wright, Romano Orzari, Michael Ironside 
    Directors-Screenwriters: Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell 
    Producers: Anne-Marie Gélinas, Ant Timpson, Benoit Beaulieu, Tim Riley 
    Executive producers: Jason Eisener, Patrick Ewald, Shaked Berenson, Michael Paszt, Stéphanie Trépanier, Jean-François Ferland, Matt Noonan 
    Director of photography: Jean-Philippe Bernier 
    Production designer: Sylvain Lemaitre 
    Costume designer: Éric Poirier 
    Editor: Luke Haigh 
    Music: Le Matos


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