MTV.com Review of “TURBO”

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Say what you will about the “Twilight” explosion of the last year – and everybody seems to have an opinion on whether the phenomenon is awesome or annoying – but even the haters should have a hard time complaining about how many of the franchise’s stars are using their newfound power to help young filmmakers. Jackson Rathbone has been hard at work on flicks like “Girlfriend,” Robert Pattinson has been able to bring a wider audience to quirky indies like “Little Ashes” and “How to Be,” and now comes the latest boost from Justin Chon.“Check out this short film i did with a friend from USC,” Justin Tweeted Wednesday night, posting a link to a vimeo page with an impressive 20-minute-long film called “Turbo.” Also on the page is the trailer, both of which were posted by the film’s director Jarrett Lee Conaway.

In the flick, Chon plays Hugo Park, a teenage fast-food slinger in a futuristic world much like ours – but with far more advanced gaming. The video game of the day is “Super Turbo Arena 2,” a sleek “Street Fighter”-like battle simulation. But instead of controllers or a mouse, the players stand in front of a sleek screen, wear sunglasses and move around on top of a “Dance Dance Revolution”-like floor that reflects their every step on screen. Each participant plays as a highly-stylized badass fighter – and Hugo has modeled his own after his wheelchair-bound older brother with hopes of winning enough money to “fix his back.”

Battling a braggart named Shamus (David Lehre) and a hottie who goes by the name Ruse (Alice Hunter), Hugo works his way through the competition one battle at a time. Finally, Hugo and Shamus square off in a final battle where they have to play as themselves, with the host telling them: “You can’t hide behind your avatars any longer.”

Described on the site as being in the tradition of “The Karate Kid” and “Tron,” the flick is an impressive mix of the two. Conaway is a young director with limited funds, so it’s really saying something that his short film is better-looking (and smarter) than recent, similarly-themed duds like “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” and “Dragonball Evolution.” Although set in the non-specific future, and highly stylized at times, “Turbo” hits a lot of gaming themes spot-on – right down to its fighters battling in arenas on beaches and in the desert.

You can bet that next time we track down Justin, we’ll be sure to ask him about the cool little flick – and whether he and Conaway would ever turn it into a full-length endeavor. But in the meantime, be sure to go check it out and let us know what you think down below.

”Turbo” the movie? Are you feeling it?

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