TURBO KID. Kitsch, enthusiasm, and immense fun
The thirty-somethings bravely supported the creation of an action movie tribute to the VHS era in the form of a half-hour film called Kung Fury. The result turned out to be excellent entertainment, with over twenty million views on YouTube. However, the short length and the abundance of computer-generated special effects clearly draw a line between a full-fledged film and a sentiment-driven homage. On the other hand, Turbo Kid is not a postmodern work of art – if it weren’t for the image quality, you could believe that the whole thing was made in 1990.
The depicted world in Turbo Kid is a post-apocalyptic year 1997. Naturally, the most valuable resource is drinking water, and survivors scavenge for whatever they can find. In such a setting, only a one-eyed (mandatory!) villain can rise to power, preferably someone like Michael Ironside, and even better, exactly him.
Believe it or not, but Brad Dourif, Gary Busey, Lance Henriksen, or Michael Biehn are outstanding actors who could easily handle many dramatic, award-worthy roles. They just aren’t interested in playing roles like Macbeth or other Birdmans. As you might have guessed, the villains here sport teased mohawks, knee-length mullets, or masks with skull motifs, fur coats, studded belts, leather jackets, football gear padding, ornaments made from animal or human bones, and a whole lot of junk. I’d be downright offended if it were any different. On the positive side, we have a young guy riding a BMX, idolizing the comic book hero Turbo Man; an Apple android with an appearance that’s both cute and terrifying; and a testosterone-fueled tough guy. In short, it’s like a mix of Marty McFly, Cherry 2000, and Mad Max. You’ve seen all this before, and you’ll probably see it again because VHS nostalgia is on the rise, but so far, no one has executed a resurrection quite as successful as this one.
With productions like this, enthusiasm is never lacking, but very often, you have to squint hard to avoid spoiling the experience with the shortcomings resulting from evolving technical skills and a lamentable lack of cash. However, the film by the trio François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell is soothing from the get-go, with visually impressive shots. Volcanic landscapes reminiscent of Mordor provide an excellent contrast to Turbo Kid ‘s colorful costume, and scenes constructed with multiple quick cuts build dynamics even when there’s practically nothing happening on screen.
In addition to the associations with several titles mentioned earlier, the first few minutes reveal two fascinations that eventually become the source of Turbo Kid ‘s entertainment power. These are two completely extreme sides of the spectrum – on one hand, there’s the typical teen cinema from twenty or thirty years ago (like The Goonies), and on the other hand, there’s gore in a style that young Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson wouldn’t be ashamed of. Recently, Eli Roth assured in many interviews that his cannibalistic film The Green Inferno would be very controversial, but it ended up with a few mundane dismemberments and standard eye-gouging. The creativity of the creators of Turbo Kid goes far beyond the norms, and although it would be an exaggeration to call this film a horror, many genre novelties could envy its courage and imagination.
For me, a lover of films that fall between the letters B and Z, Turbo Kid is a complete work, saturated with the right dose of kitsch, enthusiasm, professionalism, story, blood, and imagination. When reaching for a production of this kind, I couldn’t wish for anything more, which is why I consider the maximum rating to be fully justified.