Veterans of the video age (aka the ‘80s) ought to find plenty of familiar signifiers in this deliberately schlocky Canadian/New Zealand tribute to low budget, high concept sci-fi.
In the dark, post-apocalyptic future of 1997, a plucky, BMX-riding survivor known only as The Kid (Munro Chambers) has his humdrum, hardscrabble existence upset when he has to save his new friend, the quirky Apple (Laurence Laboeuf) from the tyrannical warlord, Zeus (Michael Ironside, and that’s a perfect bit of casting right there).
There’s a bit more to it, but Turbo Kid is more concerned with aesthetic over narrative – specifically, the gonzo aesthetic of such VHS mainstays as Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn, Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone, Ice Pirates, and any of a dozen more cheapie epics which tried to turn a desert location and a shopping spree at the Salvos into a quick buck.
It’s gloriously gory at times – the film takes pride in its beautifully brutal practical effects – but at heart, Turbo Kid is a charming little oddity that makes an asset of its low budget (it was financed by a Kickstarter campaign). Chambers and Laboeuf bring the right amount of earnestness to match the deliberately winking tone, while old warhorse Ironside could do this sort of stuff in his sleep, and his rogues gallery of freakish henchmen look like they’ve just stepped off the set of an Italian Mad Max knock-off – and they’re supposed to. It may not be worth a second look, but for fans of B-grade genre fare, Turbo Kid definitely rates a first.