What a movie. A strange low-budget feature trying to recapture the spirit and adventure of 1980’s films with its unique but oddly familiar style. One of the production company logos for this film resembled Cannon films, it’s very fitting because at times this does seem like a product of the infamous film studio. Turbo Kid really takes its style from that era, everything is practical, low-budget and most of the time absolutely ridiculous. It’s Mad Max meets a romantic comedy with Grindhouse violence while always being a superhero movie. It’s a mashing of different tropes, genres and it bursts with creativity, while its characters are based in archetype, Turbo Kid is able to stand as a unique film.
What draws you into the world of Turbo Kid is its fantastic production design. The work of the costume team, prop team and set dressers create a believable abandoned wasteland and the new strange cultures that have arisen in its wake. It’s this creative attention to detail that gives life to the film, you can tell its low-budget with its locations but there wasn’t a single costume or prop that didn’t grab my attention. It’s a visually inventive world that the filmmakers have created for Turbo Kid and that’s what gets the audience interested in the story.
The story of this film can be predictable at times, it has it moments of surprise but it follows a basic structure. This is the origin story of a superhero, we see all the familiar beats: boy before powers, boy meets girl, boy gets powers, boy fights villain. Turbo Kid injects its own forms of carnage into this story and that’s what makes it thrilling, both sides are ruthless in killing the other side. While delivering these messages of friendship and personal growth, Turbo Kid has no issue cutting a guy’s head clean off, he’s the superhero of the post apocalyptic age he has to get violent in order to survive.
The violence in this film is amazing, you have never seen bodily harm done this way in a film. People are losing limbs, exploding, and erupting blood, its such a bloody movie that it makes Paul Verhoeven films look PG in comparison. Just really inventive ways for human body destruction and blood spray, a real spectacle. This ultra violence may be shocking for the audience but it suits the world of Turbo Kid so well, every thing is to the extreme here, people have to adopt new identities in this world, reinvent themselves to survive. There are cowboys, warlords, chainsaw men, robots even some dinosaurs in this movie, everything you are watching is like an insane fever dream at times.
The acting in the film isn’t great, you do like the characters in the film but the performances are designed to have those grand monologue esque moments from the actors. The actors play more to the idea that is a B movie and it works in some places but there were points where I wanted to get emotionally invested but couldn’t. One of the running gags in the film is the female lead, Apple being continually shot or attacked by the villains for Turbo Kid’s emotional pain. I say it’s a running gag when it shouldn’t be, the story reliance on tropes can be frustrating at times and the limited performances can’t create shock every time, I cared the first time but every time after just seemed lazy.
They are an almost entirely unknown cast except for Michael Ironside as the villain Zeus, you can tell they all had fun making this film, no actor is bored or confused by what they are doing. That’s what make performances enjoyable, while they don’t engage me as much as like them to I can see the passion they have for the characters and the story. I really enjoyed the aesthetic of eighties film culture from the production design to its violence, I would have liked the that to have taken further with its cinematography. The look of the film is bland, it doesn’t excite the viewer or enhance what the film is trying to display. For a film that seemed to base itself in old B movies and science fiction it would have been beneficial to the visual feel of Turbo Kid if actually looked like it was made in the 1980’s.
It is impressive for what is, it’s a low-budget science fiction film which takes some risks, a lot of this might not have worked if the directors create a charm within the film. I’d say this film had a lot of potential that wasn’t realised, when I first heard it reminded me of the series Danger 5 and perhaps I was expecting a similar product. Turbo Kid is its own movie, its insanity can be traced back to previous works but there is stuff in this movie you have never seen before. It’s a weird film, hard to describe but I’m glad I watched it, you don’t see filmmakers take risks like this often and in spite of its faults Turbo Kid should be commended for its fearlessness in being different.