Movie Review: Turbo Kid (François Simard, Anouk Whissell)

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CAPSULE: ROAD WARRIOR on BMX bikes. From the viewpoint of a 1980s-style SF film we see a cinematic adventure in 1997 after the coming great apocalypse. The Kid on one of the bikes gets military super-weapons and makes himself a super-hero. Together he and his newfound friends (a girl and a tall cowboy) are pitted against the evil Zeus who has a monopoly on all the local pure water. This Canadian/New Zealand production has a bright spirit and a lot of fun as it looks at what a mess we might make of the world and at The Kid who is setting things right. There are film references, strange people, mutant rats, robots, and nearly everything that makes post-Holocaust living fun. The team of François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell both write and direct the film. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

When TURBO KID starts you are no longer in the present year. You are back in the early 1980s watching a cheap post-apocalypse sci-fi film set in 1997. The main character—the Kid (played by Munro Chambers)—rides around in the only vehicles that seem to have survived the apocalypse, those little BMX bicycles. Figure that one out. This is a world where pure water is more precious than gold. And the most powerful man, who is also the most evil, is Zeus. Zeus holds onto his power by putting people into a juicer—like machine that takes all the water out of its victims and purifies it for safe drinking. Michael Ironside plays Zeus. And he might well have played Zeus if this film really had been made in the 1980s. The only man big enough to stop Zeus is not a man at all but a kid. But he is not just any kid. He is The Kid. This is a Mad Max back when he was only PO’ed. Coming with The Kid is his new girlfriend Apple (played by Laurence Leboeuf—who names a girl “Laurence?”). Much like the film itself Apple is irrepressible. Sadly for Chambers, off-the-wall Leboeuf steals every scene she is in.

If you look for them there are film references to all sorts of pop media. Film references go from Indiana Jones to SOYLENT GREEN to THE ELEPHANT MAN. And it is fun to see so many clichés recycled. The film is a little gory in a comic way as limbs are hacked off in fights and ridiculous fake looking stage blood spurts like from a lawn hose. But none of the gore looks remotely real and it is all in what may be your taste in fun. The special effects are not there to fool anybody. TURBO KID is campy fun as a reminder of the films kids liked some three decades ago. It has the magic to turn “are you kidding?” into “that was fun.” This film is better than it has any right to be. I rate it a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

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About Mark Leeper

Mark Leeper has had a near life-long love of mathematics, science fiction, and cinema. Together with his wife Evelyn he founded a science fiction club at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Since 1978 they have published a weekly newsletter for their club for which Mark writes a weekly column and about sixty film reviews a year, all of which are available on the Internet.