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The Independent Critic

Jarrett Lee Conaway
Jarrett Lee Conaway, Erika Cervantes
Alice Hunter, Vai Au-Harehoe, Michael Battle, Justin Chon, Jocko Sims
Running Time
23 Mins.

 "Turbo" Review 

Given the frequently modest budgets available for short films, it might be easy to chalk up "Turbo," a 23-minute sci-fi short from Jarrett Lee Conaway as being a touch extravagantly budgeted.

Think again.

Admittedly, Conaway was working with a $100,000 budget- nothing to sneeze at, considering many short filmmakers work with budgets under $10,000. However, "Turbo" isn't just any short as it almost plays like an audition tape for the studios screaming out "See what I look like now? Imagine what this film would look like with a decent budget."

For $100,000, Conaway has constructed an imaginative and creatively satisfying short film that he reports to be in the tradition of such films as "The Karate Kid" and "Tron." "Turbo" tells the story of Hugo Park (Justin Chon), a misspent youth whose primary outlet is a 4D video game called "Super Turbo Arena." When Pharaoh King (Jocko Sims) announces a competition to determine who will join his pro team, the battle is on.

Even without seeing Conaway's description of "Turbo" as being in the same arena as "Tron," "Tron" was immediately the film that flashed into my mind in the first few moments of "Turbo." Conaway has constructed a film far superior to any of Uwe Boll's videogame-based films, and on less than a 1/10 the budget.

If this is Conaway's calling card for Hollywood studios, one can only hope they're paying attention. A two year labor of love for Conaway, an acknowledged hardcore gamer himself, "Turbo" is also his MFA Thesis Film at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.