In a post-apocalyptic future, The Kid (Munro Chambers) lives alone in his underground bunker, scavenging for relics from the old world and obsessing over comic books. But when he meets a girl named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), it's not long before The Kid has to face his fears and challenge the sadistic Zeus (Michael Ironside), who has declared himself leader of the "Wasteland" and taken control of the water supply. Armed with his ancient turbocharged weapon, he embarks on an incredible journey to rid the Wasteland of evil - and discovers the true meaning of justice and friendship.
Turbo Kid is the wonderfully colorful and bloody love letter to genre fans of the 1980’s. It will touch the heart of children who grew up watching He-Man, playing Nintendo, reading comic books and listening to anything synth. It’s a post-apocalyptic setting filled with all the delicious shlock from the 1980’s era - including its version of the dystopian future taking place in 1997. It also plays up the fantasy of what kids wanted to see from that decade with plenty of gory violence, despicable villains and heroic characters with imaginative weapons. What kid wouldn’t want to beat up bad guys with an energy-shooting glove while travelling around a wasteland on your bike?
All this may sound like Turbo Kid is a huge nostalgia fest, but it thankfully still has a heart and a story amid all its wildly satirical dressing. The protagonist of a plucky boy simply referred to as The Kid is the right mix of smart and dorky. He rides his bike across the land, documents his findings and returns with wasteland treasures to his bunker of a home. His collection includes familiar relics of cassette players and nailpolish he uses as paint. He treasures the torn and worn comic books of a hero known as Turbo Rider - almost as much as the limited resource of water he trades goods for in town.
His is a lonely life until the overly chipper Apple comes into it. She approaches every situation with a smile from beating down on wasteland baddies to being forced into a combat in a pit of death. The Kid teaches her the ways of the land in a manner that’s rather sweet considering he fashions her a weapon from a broken bat and a lawn gnome. With her off-green suit, pink hair and colorful accessories, she appears as a character ripped straight out of Jem and The Holograms. He also teams up with a cowboy with a robot arm that appears as the familiar wasteland wanderer.
Most of the characters and story elements are rather referential as well. The Kid happens upon an old facility which contains a powerful glove of a weapon, similar to that of the Nintendo Power Glove. Apple has a life meter that closely resembles that of the hearts in The Legend of Zelda. The evil wasteland warlord Zeus (Michael Ironside) appears as a classic eye-patch wearing villain controlling the water of the land. Zeus also has a Mad Max esque army to do his bidding. Purple mohawked women and skull-masked warriors comprise his military with plenty of unique weapons. The most iconic of the group is the brilliantly named Skeletron, armed with a glove that shoots out spinning buzzsaw blades.
The abundance of violence is deliciously absurd - ripped directly from the likes of Troma and Peter Jackson. Body parts fly with a cartoonishly campy tone the way heads comes off in clumps and torso separate so easily. Rarely do any of the many kills in this picture feel tiresome or simple. Just when it seems to be settling, the picture manages to surprise with a severed torso blinding somebody, a unicorn impaling someone or guts being torn out by bikes. I also admired the low budget that used to just the right absurdity. You can’t help but laugh when The Kid activates a secret underground base with those Plasma Balls that make your hair stand up with electricity.
Turbo Kid is the candy-coated, nostalgically-wondrous and a bloody fun picture that will provide endless joy to children of the 1980’s. It’s great camp, but still has a solid foundation that even those who never understood the weirdness of 80’s flicks can still enjoy its spirit. Whether seen as an homage or a satire, there’s a timeless love for its child-like imagination of R-rated shlock. It can best be described as eating ice cream for breakfast - something I always wanted as a child, but can now fully appreciate as an adult.