It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of movies from the 80s. Someone far more familiar with the medium than I could write a whole book on how weird and wild the movies of that era were, especially the ones aimed at kids. Looking back you have this great mix of super surfacey action films, dark sci-fi and kid adventure movies plus so much more. Many might look back and snicker at the movies of that era, but not everyone. In fact, I watched two recent movies that could fit right in with some of my favorites, which is why I’m talking about Big Game and Turbo Kid together and hope you watch them back to back!
Writer-director Jalmari Helander fully won me over with his wonderful Christmas-themed horror film Rare Exports so I couldn’t add his follow-up Big Game to the top of my Netflix queue faster when I saw it on there. This film also stars Onni Tommila as a boy on the verge of manhood who must head out into the wild and bring back a kill like all the other men in his Finnish village. While he’s out there with his poor archery skills, President Samuel L. Jackson’s Air Force One crashes, but he escapes in a pod that Onni comes across. As the two join forces they come to realize that a Secret Service traitor and a bunch of terrorists are now after both of them. From there, the two run on in an effort to stay alive.
In addition to Jackson, the movie also boasts an appearance from Ray Stevenson in the field. Meanwhile, a small room in a bunker somewhere came stocked with the likes of Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman and Jim Broadbent! That’s a helluva nice bump in personnel for a second feature!
Can you think of a more 80s-sounding plot than “a kid in the woods stumbles upon the president and they go on the run from bad guys hunting them?” Instead of making the film LOOK like it came from the 80s, though, this one looks gorgeous thanks to breathtaking scenery (though a few bits of awkward CGI did take me out for a moment or two). I appreciate that Helander clearly took inspiration from the same movies I love, but put that through the lens of modern techniques. I’m still a big supporter of his and hope this post gets a few more people to watch Big Game (and Rare Exports if you haven’t checked that one out yet either).
On the other hand, you’ve also got Turbo Kid, which seems like it was more designed to look like an 80s film (many of described it as Road Warrior on BMX bikes, which fits pretty well). Writers and directors François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell clearly loved everything from the George Miller movies to BMX Bandits and it comes across on screen. They also love the idea of kids taking on the identity of their heroes, delightfully evil villains and mass amounts of (mostly) practical blood.
For more of a plot summary, this film takes place in a version of 1997 where water is less than scarce and people just try to get by. The Kid (Munro Chambers) does exactly that until he meets Apple (Laurence Laboeuf) and winds up on the wrong side of local warlord Zeus (Michael Ironside) and his blade-wielding minion Skeletron (Edwin Wright). The Kid’s a big fan of a comic book hero called Turbo Man and eventually takes on the identity himself after finding his gear out in the wasteland.
Turbo Kid‘s a lot more in your face when it comes to its influences. I must admit, I found it a bit off-putting at first. The movie almost has this “look how 80s we’re being!” vibe at times, but about 20 or 30 minutes in, that wasn’t bothering me anymore and I was fully invested in the journey at hand. Of course, it helps that this movie is bonkers-violent and bloody. There’s one part where a body gets cut and half and part of it lands on another guy. Not long after the OTHER part lands on top of that part making this awesomely weird, fleshy, blood splattered totem pole.