When most people think of Canadian film, you probably don’t think of intestines plopping on the ground, a geyser of blood spraying every which way, or a circular saw blade embedded in someone’s skull. While Canada has a reputation for general good heartedness here in the States, Canadian independent filmmakers have a reputation for crafting bloody, cinematic thrill rides that prove as funny as they are gory. Thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign, another gem from our neighbors to the north is being released by Epic Pictures in select theaters today: Turbo Kid.  Combining elements of 80’s post-apocalyptic action films, 90’s videogames, and Canadian teen dramas, Turbo Kid keeps you glued to your seat; your narrow, bright red, BMX bike seat.

Turbo Kid is the creation of Anouk Whissell, François Simard, and Yoann-Karl Whissell, who are collectively known as RKSS (short for Roadkill Superstar). The trio has created a slew of short films, but struck gold with their short film T is for Turbo (check it out below). While their Indiegogo campaign was enough for a feature-length film, most of the money went into special effects and fake blood (there’s a lot of it). That means that most of the film’s acclaim when it premiered at Sundance came from the quality of the script and directing. That’s not to say that RKSS didn’t manage to find some terrific actors willing to work for the little money that was available.

The young, titular star of Turbo Kid is Munro Chambers; best known to Canadian audiences as Eli Goldsworthy on Degrassi and Wilder from The Latest Buzz. Playing his leading lady – with bright eyes and a grin that stretches from ear to ear – is French Canadian actress Laurence Lebœuf. Playing the Kid’s cowboy accomplice is Aaron Jeffery; a New Zealand – Australian actor best known down under for his role on McLeod’s Daughters, and known in America for his role as Wolverine’s real father in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The most recognizable of the cast, Michael Ironside, portrays Turbo Kid’s villain; you’d recognize him from films like Top Gun, Total Recall, Free Willy, or Starship Troopers.

The tale of Turbo Kid begins with a boy known only as The Kid (Chambers), who has raised himself in the futuristic wasteland of 1997. He survives by collecting knick knacks from humanity’s past and selling them to the remaining survivors. One such find is a comic book featuring Turbo Rider; a futuristic warrior who dispenses justice from a motorbike. A sweet, simple girl named Apple (Lebœuf) ends The Kid’s solitary life she begins following him around with the help of a tracking bracelet. She offers to show him around the zones he’s been too timid to visit, and soon grows attached to the endearing doll. Soon, the pair runs afoul of vicious villain Zeus (Ironside) and his violent BMX biker gang, which includes an iron-masked behemoth sporting a buzzsaw launcher. Apple is taken, but while escaping The Kid finds a skeleton wearing a suit similar to Turbo Rider’s, complete with a powerful Turbo Glove. After putting it on, The Kid summons the courage to rescue his damsel in distress, but finds that it’s just the beginning of his troubles. 

Turbo Kid is sometimes goofy, sometimes violently cringe-worthy, but it has a bigger heart than many Hollywood blockbusters. The whole film might seem like a cliche on the surface, but every trope contributes to the divine simplicity of the film. Sometimes a knight in shining armor is just a knight, but he’s the most endearing, badass knight you’ve ever seen. Sometimes a damsel is just a damsel, but the most heartwarming, innocent damsel outside of a Disney movie. Although this is their first feature film, RKSS has struck upon a winning recipe made up of nostalgia, action, cheesiness, B-movie grittiness, and a dash of romance.

While RKSS’s struggle to release such fun, nostalgic, gruesome film is over, their campaigning continues. The filmmakers now have a new Indiegogo campaign to create all the cheesy 80’s merchandise you can imagine, including action figures, comic books, and a VHS copy of the movie. You can check to see if Turbo Kid is playing near you right here, but first check out the original short film and feature film trailer below.