As a child growing up in the 80's, low budget post-apocalyptic films were a staple of weekend television and HBO. Some of them were trash, some were trashy, some were absolute jewels of action entertainment. A few even had heart, thought, and soul behind them.
For most people, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is the pinnacle of the genre, taking a modest budget and making something depthful, savage, and entertaining out of it. For a time, it spawned many imitators, it's own sequels, and became an iconic standard by which most of those followers would be measured... decades later, Turbo Kid emerges from the Wasteland to fight for a place among the champions of the Thunderdome... does it measure up?
Oh yes. Yes it does. Turbo Kid is both a clever skillful homage and laugh out loud send-up of the 80's post-apocalyptic madness. It's funny - occasionally hilarious - brutally gory (in an over-the-top Troma or Peter Jackson way), well acted, and surprisingly heartfelt. It has everything you could want in a 80's B-style post-apocalyptic adventure... and a Gnome Stick!!! It's main conceit (and one that some viewers may not be able to accept) is that much of the civilization and resulting action revolves around BMX bicycles as the primary mode of transport. No nitro engines, no rusted hulking desert vehicles or flamethrower guitars - bikes. Kid's bikes. Yes, it's both absurd and oddly sensible in a world long past the point of decay, but if you can accept that, the rest of the movie is pure wasteland wonder. The humor is pervasive, but often played straight, and is always respectful of the genre. This is not a wry, snarky mockery of the genre and time period it's exploring. It's a love-letter - a blood soaked, flying buzz-saw, nuclear fallout, rainbow unicorn love-letter
Acting is solid from all the main players, including genre icon Michael Ironside playing the kind of role he's been playing since before the bombs fell and the world moved on. He's great. So is the rest of the cast including Laurence Leboeuf, as the lead female protagonist. Her presence in the film is one of the things that most entertains and elevates everything happening around her. Some of the acting is intentionally over the top, cheesy, or energetic - sometimes deadly serious and dramatic. It's well directed, with actors very well cast in their roles. Visuals are polished and consistent with the look and feel of the movies it honors. The wasteland is strewn with decaying signs of the apocalypse, but the cinematography is professional and often poignant. Audio is great and the synth music soundtrack is a complete triumph. Even if you don't feel or love the film, the music is worthy of any synth rock put out in the 80's, with a few emotional nods to Blade Runner's Vangelis score as well as many great action themes.
If you're looking for a post apocalyptic film that's fun, sometimes silly, sometimes wistful, surprisingly epic - and wears it's influences on it's spiked football padded shoulders proudly - you WILL enjoy Turbo Kid.