True story: I own almost every Italian-produced post-apocalyptic movie currently available on DVD or Blu-ray. I’m a certified sucker for movies set in bleak futuristic wastelands, where the water is scarce, the vehicles are janky, and the bad guys strongly resemble people who are either really into Mad Max cosplay or just returned from a Gwar concert. I love them all crazily, and I’m not ashamed to admit that fact to the entire world. In fact, I feel weirdly liberated.
That lengthy introduction should help explain my endless adoration for the 2015 film Turbo Kid, an ultra-gory and hyper-violent post-apocalyptic adventure that, at its heart, is a story about friendship. For a movie that goes out of its way to toss buckets of blood and limbs at the screen at any given moment, it’s surprisingly sweet and endearing. And while there’s a part of me that wants to strangle the filmmakers for giving us such a downtrodden ending, I do think that Turbo Kid ranks as one of the best movies of 2015.
Munro Chambers stars as The Kid, a loner who lives in relative peace among the wasteland’s miserable inhabitants. However, his world is turned upside down when he meets Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), a cyborg who wants nothing more than to be his friend. Despite their otherwise passive existence, they’re soon waging war against the maniacal Zeus (Michael Ironside) and his gang of sadistic minions. The Kid eventually learns of Zeus’ connection to his childhood, forcing him into a bloody confrontation to end the villain’s reign over the wasteland once and for all. And oh, what a deliriously bloody confrontation it is.
The selling point for a lot of folks will be Turbo Kid’s reckless sense of abandon in terms of on-screen violence. Limbs fly, blood spills, and people meet their makers in all sorts of inventively grisly ways. Fueled by a fantastic soundtrack by synthwave heroes Le Matos, the film gives even the hardest of hardcore gore hounds a dizzying amount of carnage. Once The Kid’s quest for revenge comes to a head, Turbo Kid’s penchant for unchecked bloodletting reaches a fever pitch, culminating in a finale that is as intense as it is satisfying. It’s a shame that directors Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell decided to end the story on a depressing note. Truth be told, it’s perhaps the only stain on an otherwise flawless film.
And while all the carnage and sadistic bursts of internal organs entertain those who have a thirst for the gorier side of cinema, Turbo Kid does have something more to offer than mere visceral thrills. The relationship between The Kid and Apple cements the movie as a tale about friendship, adding a surprising amount of heart to an otherwise blood-soaked feature. The story’s emotional pull caught me completely off guard, especially when things take a darker turn towards the middle of the film. Instead of simply waiting for more severed limbs and enormous sprays of blood, I wanted to learn more about The Kid and Apple as they navigated this barren landscape together. As some might say, relationship goals on fleek.
Speaking of Apple, Laurence Leboeuf’s portrayal of the wasteland’s most endearing character truly tugs at the proverbial heartstrings. She’s silly, sweet, and completely devoted to The Kid and his happiness. Everyone on board does a fantastic job with the material, including veteran character actor Michael Ironside, but there’s something truly remarkable about Leboeuf’s performance. It’s weirdly engaging, although some might argue that her character is annoying to the point of being wholly intolerable. I happen to think she’s absolutely adorable and would love to see an entire feature devoted to her adventures. Can we get an Apple-oriented Turbo Kid prequel? I’m sure there’s a legion of fans would who eat that up in a heartbeat.
Regarding the recently released Blu-ray set, the folks at Epic Pictures have packed a ton of content into the three-disc special edition currently available on the company’s website. In addition to getting the flick on Blu-ray, you’ll also receive a standard definition version on DVD. However, Turbo Kid deserves to be seen on Blu-ray, as the film’s vibrant colors really seem to pop in HD. Once you’ve worked your way through the movie once or twice, the highly informative commentary, which features all three directors, will gladly fill your brain with all sorts of trivia about the movie’s genesis and production. It’s an incredibly well-rounded package, one that will surely keep hardcore fans happy for many enjoyable hours.
Out of all the films desperately trying to cash in on the current wave of 80s nostalgia, Turbo Kid easily climbs to the top of this ever-growing pile. And while it’s not as zany or over-the-top as Kung Fury or even Samurai Cop 2, what it lacks in utter cinematic insanity it makes up for with an oddly heart-warming script, fantastic performances from its principal cast, and just the right amount of gory shenanigans. As someone who spends a little too much time re-watching 2019: After the Fall of New York, Eliminators of the Year 3000, and Escape from the Bronx, I can’t recommend Turbo Kid enough. Your mileage may vary, but if you look past the goofiness and violence, you’ll find a tale about two lost souls who find each other in a world where blood, gore, and BMXs are the order of the day. In short: It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.