This mash-up of 80s special effects extravaganzas with outrageous gore and bloodshed is an achievement in both weirdness and charm, from the deliberately hokey staging to the presence of 80s action man Michael Ironside in the cast.
It’s set in a world straight out of 80s VHS action, the post-apocalyptic future (set in 1997, as if the movie itself was made in the 80s) where big hair and hairbands are fixtures as staunch as the inventive weapons and BMX bikes.
Lone scavenger The Kid (Munro Chambers) makes a living scouring the wasteland for provisions every day while he hunkers down in the lower levels of an abandoned power plant by night, keeping his head down amid the gang warfare and dog eat dog mentality that surrounds him. His only respite from it all is Turbo Man, a hero from comic books he reads in his spare time.
But when he meets an unexpected partner, Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), it turns his world upside down. Perennially perky, smiling and optimistic, Apple seems to think life is nothing but fun and happiness, sticking to The Kid like glue until her guileless devotion to become his friend wins him over.
But it’s not long before they fall foul of the local despot Zeus (Ironside), a monster who runs the closest thing to a township where the nourishment of his citizens quite literally comes from the blood of whatever innocents he can ensnare.
When his scary minions capture Apple and drag her away, Turbo Kid joins forces with a tough guy who has his own score to settle with Zeus, Frederic (Aaron Jeffrey). Along the way, he finds a downed fighter, the dead pilot wearing a suit that offers advanced weaponry not unlike that of his comic book hero, and Turbo Kid is born.
The story is far less interesting than the aesthetic and the bloodletting. It has the cheesy rock soundtrack and the creative style of one of the army of Mad Max rip offs that dotted the straight-to-video landscape of the era, but the gleeful lopping off of heads and limbs while blood showers out like water from a hydrant is straight out of the hyper-real horror world of early Peter Jackson.
There are more Easter Eggs to 80s movies and gaming than you could possibly see on a single viewing, and elements of the movie itself like the story and soundtrack contain far more meta-analysis on the period and style it’s homaging.
But even without the add-ons and framework, it’s hilarious good fun and the characters endear you to their plight just enough to carry you the rest of the way.