In a post-apocalyptic future, THE KID, a young solitary scavenger obsessed with comic books must face his fears and become a reluctant hero when he meets a mysterious girl named APPLE. Despite their efforts to keep to themselves, ZEUS, the sadistic and self-proclaimed leader of the Wasteland, plagues THE KID and APPLE. Armed with little more than blind faith and an ancient turbocharged weapon, THE KID learns of justice and friendship and embarks on an incredible journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl of his dreams.
When it comes to plot, Turbo Kid isn't exactly the most cerebral. A lot of the runtime focuses on the friendship between The Kid and Apple, and how her happy-go-lucky attitude is a stark contrast to his coy, safe existence. There's some backstory flashbacks inserted every now and then that shows a connection between The Kid and Zeus, and the conflict between them establishes a reason for all the action.
But the plot is fairly superfluous to Turbo Kid's true purpose, and that's 80s nostalgia and homage. The whole thing feels like a post-apocalyptic movie made in the 80s, with nods to the movies of the time wherever you look. My favourite of which is everyone riding around on BMX bikes and chopper-cycles, reminiscent of movies like E.T. and The Goonies, and yet when you think about it, it actually makes perfect sense in a post-apocalyptic world where fuel is probably non-existent.
Another great aspect of the 80s angle is the special effects. There isn't a whole lot of CGI in Turbo Kid, but what CGI we do get is deliberately cheap and obvious. The Kid's arm weapon shoots out bright lights and lasers that look ripped straight out of Highlander, and the nuclear winter clouds are recreated with clever liquid mixtures that are super-imposed in the sky above landscapes, landscapes of which that are super reminiscent of the original Mad Max. The level of blood and gore is typically over-the-top as well, with blood spurting and spraying all over the place whenever someone loses an appendage or gets cut in half (which actually happens a lot, The Kid's weapon literally vaporises people, and Skeletron has a projectile circular saw on his arm). Fight scenes become blood baths, and uses how over-the-top and silly it is to it's advantage. For instance in the final fight scene, a goon ends up wearing a tower of torsos and legs of his comrades in a comedic pile-up.
Of course a massive 80s homage like Turbo Kid wouldn't work without a suitable synthcore score, and in that regard Turbo Kid fails to disappoint. Almost every scene is punctuated by staccato synth bass and electro dance drums pulsing away with twinkly keyboard sounds and arpeggios coursing out the melody. There's even an appearance from John Farnham's Thunder in Your Heart which is about as 80s as synth-rock gets (listened to by the character of a tape walkman, of course).
Now I'd be lying if I didn't say the dialogue and scripting was awful and cheesy as hell, or that a number of the actors overdid their deliveries, but in a way that all just added to the charm of the movie. When you really think about it, dialogue and acting wasn't typically great in a lot of the most iconic movies from the 80s, filled with lines and exchanges that today seem really cliché and cheesy. What would usually be a criticism in any other movie, here just feels like another layer to the homage of 80s classics and B-movies.
Of course when it comes to acting, the standout is Laurence LeBoeuf as the zany, overly optimistic Apple who befriends The Kid. Her smile is infectious and she takes every scene in her stride, becoming the true heart and soul of the entire movie. Munro Chambers certainly does an admirable job as The Kid, following the path of coward-turned-hero naturally and fluidly, and embracing the audience surrogate through this 80s adventure. Aaron Jeffrey seems to have a lot of fun as the cowboy Frederic, delivering every cheesy one-liner with all the panazz and cliché accentuation that the homage deserves, while Michael Ironside likewise seems to have a lot of fun as the villainous Zeus, tearing up and dominating every scene he's in. Edwin Wright as well, despite not having any lines of dialogue at all, turns Skeletron into a figure befitting of nightmares.
Turbo Kid is a deliberately cheesy exploration of an apocalyptic wasteland. It's been coined as a Mad Max love story on BMX bikes, and honestly that's about as accurate a description as you can get. Every scene uses 80s love and appreciation, and it never fails to warm your heart and make you squirm at graphic spurts of blood, sometimes simultaneously. In some respects it is awful, and yet that only adds to it's genuine charm, and often feels like a deliberate choice. You can tell the budget wasn't particularly huge, but that often plays in it's favour. Turbo Kid was a thoroughly enjoyable romp that stands out from many of today's more expensive endeavours. I give it an 8/10, and would recommend to anyone with a fundamental love of 80s movies.
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