“Turbo Kid” is the first full length feature from Co-Writer/Directors, Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann- Karl Whissell. The trio previously collaborated on a handful of short films over the last decade. I’ve known about Turbo Kid for several months and am glad to see it being released October 28th on VOD (video on demand). I knew enough about the film prior to watching it so my expectations were quite high. Turbo Kid is an Action/Adventure and Sci-fi Splatter film all rolled into one. Set in a post apocalyptic future “The Kid” (played by Munro Chambers) a young, comic book obsessed scavenger, begrudgingly faces his fears and becomes a hero by helping a peculiar girl named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf). Zeus (played by veteran actor Michael Ironside), is a sadistic tyrant and self-proclaimed leader of the wasteland. Armed with his Bmx, some padded protective gear, a mysterious superhero’s suit and Apple in tow, it’s up to the kid to stop Zeus and restore order to the badlands. The film also stars Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari, Edwin Wright, Anouk Whissell and Francois Simard.
Turbo Kid’s script perfectly squares a unique blend of Dark Comedy, Drama and Action. The poster artwork is awesome and some of the pieces of fan art and retro designs I’ve seen floating around look great. This threesome of filmmakers are clearly very enthusiastic about their work and it shows on-screen. They are incredibly resourceful, as the production value exhibits. Made on what I can only imagine is a modest budget, they’re eager to execute this relatively basic story on such a grand-scale. The camera work is quite diverse, ranging from crane shots in the opening credits while The Kid rides his bike across the desolate landscape, to wide dolly shots to capture the vastness of the wasteland (with authentic looking digital effects backing it), as well as tight concise shots inside the local watering hole or Zeus’s lair, it’s all great. Sylvain Lemaitre was the head of set design, another facet of the film that is sure to impress its intended audience. The Kid’s lair has lost treasures resembling some kind of normalcy in a world that’s anything but normal. Old editions of his favorite comics, action figurines, posters and of course those slide projections inside those binoculars that were all the rage in the late 80’s early 90’s. His cave was like stepping back into that time period and it really fit the tone of the film. The contemporary hint of Turbo Kid is conveyed through the fact Cinematographer, Jean-Philippe Bernier chose a very vibrant look and shooting style, making it a far easier watch than a lot of the films it’s referring to.
The soundtrack was always going to be key in a film that has a nostalgic air about it. Turbo Kid opens with that beloved 80’s/90’s style, synth pop music and as the film progresses so does the mood and technique toward using that type of sound. Some of the heartfelt moments between The Kid and Apple have a lot softer cadence, then when Zeus and Skeletron (Zeus’s right hand man) decide it’s time to make a move the intensity picks up and it’s great. Much like this year’s earlier, outstanding short film “Kung Fury” see review * https://adamthemoviegod.com/kung-fury-review/. The music only enhances the viewing experience and I can’t wait to get my hands on this soundtrack. The entire cast knew exactly how to play their respective parts with the right amount of jesting. It’s a fine line between being natural and professional, versus that self-aware nature that you’re in on the joke. Michael Ironside’s portrayal of Zeus is great. He’s articulation of short monologues and grand speeches is better than most, he’s adept at playing roles of all kinds and the ease with which he does it is evident here. The two surprise packets though are Chambers and Leboeuf, who are actually both a lot older than you’d think. I have an extensive movie collection but I haven’t seen either of them in a film before. I know Chambers was part of the show “Degrassi” and Leboeuf has a sizable amount of credits to her name but these two are leaps and bounds ahead of most of the Canadian competition in their age bracket (at least the ones I’ve seen).
There’s plenty of creative license taken and unique complexities in the writing of Turbo Kid. The awkward manner in which The Kid and Apple interact make for a bunch of great comedic moments. Their interactions were reminiscent of a couple of characters in a specific episode of Season 6 of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. The character Frederic (played by fellow Aussie, Aaron Jeffery) felt like the “Mad Max” influence of the film, he’s outback look, rough jargon and colorful vocabulary seemed to be paying homage to the Max Rockatansky character of the well-known franchise. Several of his one liners were great as were Michael Ironside’s, I particularly liked Zeus’s arc and that he wasn’t just the token bad guy, a final unveiling sets up a truly memorable finish to the film. It’s rare to see a futuristic world depicting life without gas and electricity, I thought that was an excellent particular to write, of course making it impossible to pass running time with endless car chase sequences. BMX bike chases act as the substitute for the aforementioned and they were surprisingly effective and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. There’s an array of homemade weapons on display, some of which I hadn’t ever seen used before and they’re cleverly implemented into the story.
Let’s talk a bit about the effects. After I’d seen some grotesque heads on sticks within the first five minutes, I knew this film was going to feature some expert practical effects, boy was I right. If the 80’s/90’s style visual effects, reminiscent of “Robocop” meets popular video game “Street Fighter” weren’t enough, then the brilliant blood and gore will be, I loved it. The color and texture of the blood is spot on, we even get a character that can bleed blue and it looks fantastic. The Action comes hard and heavy, never shying away from full-blown carnage and showcasing the aftermath. The kills are absolutely glorious and incredibly entertaining and inventive, something I felt was missing from the latest Mad Max. I’m still waiting for Hollywood to make a film that displays how talented these special effects and make up artists really are, that’s a big part of the reason I watch films like this. Not only is the body count high, the huge finale is exactly that huge and it should be. Often these types of films fizzle out ending on a bit of a lull, not Turbo Kid. Just when you think the fight’s over there’s one last advance, it never wears out its welcome. I want to tell you everything that happens so you know the extravaganza you’re in for but I won’t, go see it for yourself!
Most of the profanity had context, some of it intended for comedic relief and some outlining character intimidation. On a couple of occasions Jeffery’s rudeness felt avoidable and because most of the time it works, it’s quite obvious when it doesn’t. Although there’s a sufficient amount of back story on our hero Kid and how he came to be fending for himself and living off the land, the convenience with which he’s thrust into the role of protector, didn’t have the necessary setup I think it should have. Is the plot point of finding the vessel and in turn the suit, an indication that the boy we are watching is a character from a comic book? After all, he does find the suit at the exact time that he needs it and in the strangest of places. It would make sense that through imagination and his love for comics that he would take on that persona to give his life purpose. I would’ve liked to have seen that plot point unfold in a more straight forward manner is all, otherwise you could be led to believe that the entire story, the world we’re engrossed in and all its outcomes were already predetermined because it’s in a book. Or am I just reading too much into it? (haha pardon the pun, either way I think it’s an interesting point).
Turbo Kid had a lot of hype and in the end it more than lived up to my expectations, it’s a near flawless film. If you put the cheesy Action and dialogue of any episode of “Power Rangers” and fused it with the friendship/romance, coming of age theme of a John Hughes film then added a healthy dosage of Mad Max on BMX bikes, with any obscure Asian or European splatter film, you’d have something akin to Turbo Kid. The poster art, the inner workings of the writing, the synth pumping soundtrack and the set design are all amazing features. Each of the characters are entertaining in their own way, the performances incredibly even and carried mostly by two really good young actors. The amount of carnage almost entirely conceived with practical effects, as well as one of the biggest finales in any film should make you stand up and pay attention to this trio. The dedication towards attention to detail like that of “Kung Fury”, make it impossible to not immerse yourself in this world. Simply put, Turbo Kid is a masterpiece and if it’s not the best film of the year it has to be right up there. It’s what Mad Max: Fury Road should have been and if you understand the intent behind these films I challenge you to find one better. I can’t wait to get my hands on a hard-copy!
My rating for “Turbo Kid” is 9/10