Lupin the Third

Reviewed by: sukting

October 06, 2014

Rating: three

How long
2 hours 

The movie is based on the iconic manga by Monkey Punch.  Lupin and friends infiltrate a highly secured fortress-like safe named "Ark of Navarone" to claim the "Crimson Heart of Cleopatra”. Are they able to get it? The treasure is thought to allow its owner to control the world.
Story/Introduction on characters
Dawson (Nick Tate), who is wheelchair bound, is the head of the thieves gang 'The Works'. He believes that the rich should not hide their wealth at home to be shared with them. Thus, he gets a new young gang to get a gold medal in Singapore – they are Arsene Lupin III (Shun Oguri), Fujiko Mine (Meisa Kuroki), Pierre (Kim Joon) and Jiro (Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi) .

Singaporeans will crack up when watching it – it is a fiction Hougang museum which has it. The guys are rash without Lupin around and luckily Fujiko alerts them of the rays. She is about to get it when suddenly, there is an explosion. The medal falls into Lupin's hands as he waits for it on a motorcycle below while the rest have to fend themselves from the cops.

Fujiko is so mad that she causes the cops to get electrocuted in water. In the meantime, the clumsy Jiro also needs Pierre's help to escape. On his way back, he is stopped by Michael Lee (Yan Cheng Xu, you will be surprised that he is bearded). They are separated by fire. He calls Lupin using his phone (many will be fascinated by the design – transparent with blue florescent light and the photos of people on his contact list are visible.) Lupin's earpiece could have burned his ear if not for him throwing it away on time.

He gives the medal to Michael upon seeing him calling Fujiko. Koichi Zenigata(Tadanobu Asano) has wanted to arrest Dawson for a long time. He discusses with the Hong Kong police….but why is it in Japanese language which I doubt most of them understand?! He informs them about the thieves meeting venue so they are going to ambush them once and for all.

Lupin reaches Dawson's home to see Fujiko talking to Michael. He gets jealous and Michael mentions that Lupin gets hopeless whenever it comes to Fujiko. Lupin offers to dance with Fujiko but Pierre gets the honour. All have a dinner with Dawson, his bodyguard, Daisuke Jigen (Tetsuji Tamayama) and other seniors. Dawson announces his retirement and the new head will be the one having the medal.

As much as he wishes Lupin to have it, it surprises all that Fujiko has it. Dawson describes that once Michael and Lupin combine forces, they become invincible. He says that Lupin has inherited his wits from his grandfather but his carefree nature might not be suitable as a leader. As a welcome ceremony to the new successor, he brings them to the vault. They are shown the necklace of Cleopatra. It is without the crimson heart – a red jewel in the centre of it. Dawson hopes to have the complete set.

Suddenly, Michael's men Royal (Thanayong), Maria (Yuka Nakayama) and Sabre (Kazutaka Yoshino) charge in. Michael accuses Dawson of killing Edward Lam. Dawson is about to explain when he gets killed by Royal. Michael is also stunned as he does not expect it. Jiro is also killed by in the process and Pierre is saddened to lose a good buddy. Lupin, Fujiko and Jigen vow to seek Michael out as he gets the necklace. They are sure that he has to sell it through an auction as normal buyers will not dare to touch the precious.

Jigen follows Lupin for the following year and keeps alerting Lupin not to trust Fujiko's sources but he will not listen. He shakes his head and one day, Lupin is delighted to be invited to her home. He reaches there through her balcony to give her a surprise with a bottle of expensive wine. They spar with one another but he stops midway as Zenigata and his men come in. This is the surprise that she gives him.

Zenigata shares his latest information. A Thailand rich man, Pramuv (Nirut Sirijanya) is holding an audition soon. Pramuv's wealth comes from unknown sources – Zenigata suspects that it is from smuggling. He will be the buyer and now Michael's new identity is Georgio Zhang. (What a weird name!) Although Zenigata gets handcuffed back, he is sure that Lupin will help him to steal the necklace. 

Michael meets up with Pramuv's secretary Miss Vee (Rhatha Phongam) to fix their date. Miss Vee is having a swim in the pool when Zenigata alerts her about Lupin. She brushes it off but is wary as Zenigata is suspicious of Pramuv. Unknown to both, Maria has taken photos of them to send to Michael.

Lupin goes to the temple with Jigen to seek the help of a swordsman, Ishikawa Goemon (Gou Ayano). He is enraged when Jigen exclaims that a bullet is still faster than a sword. Both spar and are equally fast. Lupin brings along Goemon's favourite rice balls and offers a higher price as it involves more danger now. The Thai chief police, Naron (Vithaya Pansringarm) jumps when knowing Zenigata is so reckless to approach Pramuv without evidence.      
Fujiko is having a bath when Maria charges in. (No idea why Maria must lie on her bed to look hot, though as Fujiko is not a man.) Lupin is hiding at the balcony to watch how Maria gets badly beaten and learns that Michael wants to meet Fujiko.

Lupin tails her and learns that Michael has thought of her to be his long lost younger sister. He describes Edward as a senior from the works. He is like a father to Fujiko and him, coaxing her to sleep. Michael wants to place the complete necklace on her neck. Lupin appears after knowing it and same as before, Fujiko refuses to leave with him.

Lupin decides to steal the necklace to get the others to get ready. They are tailed by Royal and Sabre. Lupin deserts his car, leaving Goemon and Jigen to drive it. He gets onto Royal's truck to fight with him. Later, it switches to Goemon to destroy the truck with the sword to stop it from going after them.

Lupin sits beside Fujiko in the auction venue. The two men are locked up in an enclosed transparent chamber for the deal. Michael writes the cheque and gets the jewel while Pramuv gets the necklace. Michael warns Pramuv not to write on the cheque as it is going to explode. To his dismay, his device does not work. Pramuv reveals that he is also from the works and he is the one who steal the ruby when the three men are in the dessert.

He has tried to kill Dawson but Edward takes the bullet for him. It is too late as the deal is sealed. Michael gets so distressed that he tears the cheque. Lupin aborts the mission and wants to make it big to declare war openly. (Stupid decision that all might regret later.) Zenigata is mad that nothing can be done as he has no arrest documents and gets drunk with Naron.  
Lupin is at their secret hideout when Michael comes. Jigen points his gun at Michael and Lupin quickly shoots the gun to the ground. To his embarrassment, Jigen has taken out the bullets. They decide to combine forces to work together. Pierre buys the most expensive software and hires an expert, Savor (Kazutaka Yoshii) to help them. (I thought Pierre is already IT savvy – why do they still need extra help?)

The rest are curious where the money comes from – Fujiko replies that she foots the bill with the money she picks from the ground. All realize that it is from Pramuv's cheque. They have a headache to see how complicated it is to get in. They only have a matter of seconds to stop the rays from working in order to get in. Thanks to Goemon who has sleepless nights to look for the loophole. 

The gang has a picnic at the rooftop. They bury their past and cheers to Dawson quietly. Goemon does not join them as he prefers Japanese rice wine. Lupin and Michael toast to each other while Fujiko comments on Jigen's cooking again. 

Zenigata and Naron appear at the vault, demanding for a check. Miss V and Pramuv allow them in.  Zenigata puts in a thumbdrive and it Is  Lupin's animated look shown on the screen. (but to fans, they were appalled that  Lupin's face changed to match Shun Oguri's. They questioned if they were allowed to do that.) The viruses are sent to the police while all computers are shut down. The two are actually Michael and lupin in disguise. Miss V is unable to solve the crisis so Pramuv dispatches his men. 

Jigen has only two bullets left and Royal tries to provoke him by throwing a gun on the ground to lure him to pick him. Jigen sees a dead man opposite him holding a machine gun. His accurate shot causes the angle to change and the auto gun hits bullets onto Royal. As for Fujiko who is busy trying to open the door with other devices, she is harassed by Maria. They spar but Fujiko gets impatient to shoot her to save time. Maria is startled to get shot to ask as she does not believe that has happened. (That scene is surely priceless.)  

Naron quickly wakes Zenigata to rush to the scene. Goemon kills Sabre with his sword – Sabre is simply no match in the speed. Michael and Lupin finally get to the vault door. Pierre and Savor try to work together to decode the key to get into the vault. Savor takes a few tries before getting the password to duplicate the key on the spot. (I don't really like the idea of an outsider to save the day.)

Still, the complete necklace is locked in the safe. Lupin remembers how his grandfather mentions to him about how the women and safes are alike to be tender to. He opens the safe but both men are locked. Lupin has the remaining explosives left from the last action. He places it down and asks Michael if he has a better solution. Michael suddenly knocks him out to place him in the safe.

He triggers the button, remembering how nice Fujiko will look with the necklace. Lupin comes out, sad to know that Michael is dead. (To me, that is pure stupidity, why can't the two remain in the safe and just to trigger the device from the inside?!) Lupin is caught by Miss V and Pramuv's men. So are the rest surrounded. However, Naron and Zenigata come to their rescue. They have the documents this time.  

Zenigata is delighted to arrest Pramuv and Miss V. He quickly opens the suitcase to check the necklace. He wonders why the ruby is so big. He gets mad when it suddenly springs and there is a note saying good job. That is a replica indeed. Lupin gives the necklace to Fujiko to ask her if she is truly Michael's sister or she only leads him on to keep him alive.

Fujiko evades the question to reply that she is only interested in the necklace. The same thing happens again, the police comes with Zenigata and she gets away again. Goemon laughs and disappears suddenly like a samurai. Jigen blames Lupin for trusting her wrongly again as they get in their car. 

Interesting facts
The film was shot in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore & Philippines. Fans are thrilled as there are three characters in 3 versions of boys over flowers here. To play Lupin III, Shun Oguri went through 10 months of action training and lost 8 kg. Lupin was very thin and he had to project the correct tone. He rejected twice before accepting it. He was very stressed as it was a popular character.

The director told him he was the only suitable candidate and would stick to the original instead of making changes. To fussy fans, Shun Oguri does not look entirely like Lupin. Lupin was oval-faced while Shun Oguri is square-faced. Still, they gave thumbsup to him for scenes where Shun Oguri makes the trademark smirk of Lupin. Shun got the anime DVDs on his birthdays since young so he watched them as reference.   

Shun and Cheng are rivals in the movie but off-screen. All are friendly to each other. To him, Cheng Xu is a good-looking big star. Although he is older than Shun, he does not feel that way. Thanks to this movie, Cheng's EP was well-received. The whole group drank almost daily. Kim tried to speak Japanese and was able to communicate at the end of filming. He treated him like a cute younger brother.  

Like Lupin, he liked women but he was unable to sacrifice entirely for a woman – unless the person is his wife, Yu Yamada. Both of them have a new born daughter lately. Lupin is likeable to all as he often does things unexpectedly. He likes his green jacket as he looks evil but is still a human. The hero makes him into a hero but he doesn't feel like it.

While shooting, Monkey Punch made a visit and the cast practically went crazy. This was the best memory for them. Gou Ayano gained 10 kg to play the character of Ishikawa Goemon. I do like the way he sways his sword to cause the different bamboos to be split into halves in the forest. 

They shot in Thailand for 2 months and it was tough but Shun admitted that his action scenes had improved. The Korean action team designed many difficult stunts and he fought non-stop. He fell many times as they did not use wires or props. He practiced dancing with Meisa for a longtime in Japan but there were still changes. He was glad that he managed to carry her over his shoulder.   

The anime was done in the 60s and was considered a national work. The red jacket was Lupin's trademark. The fans' original choice of Fujiko was Norika Fujiwara through websites but the director's original choice was Sawajiri Erika but it became Meisa – Shun's rumoured girlfriend in the past.  

Most favourite character
Lupin, he is intelligent and plans his move well – except on the part to blow the matter big to go through so much trouble to get the necklace back.    
Most hated character
Michael, he is so silly not to ask Dawson the truth. He makes too many mistakes without asking. 

Lupin the 3rd has a great costume designer. I am marveled by the clothes they wear. Everyone does the part well. It is beautiful to watch them parade on the big screen. Oguri Shun's performance is top notch to nail the role especially well. However, many fighting scenes are shot in the dark. I can't make out who is fighting against who.

If the story can't attract you, the cast will. There are many scenes of Maria, Fujiko and Miss V. They are very hot for the male fans. For female fans, Michael,  Lupin, Pierre and Jigen - either one must attract you somehow. They are all okay in their English and do not sound awkward as others in other movies. I recommend this film as it is entertaining. The drama is cartoonish but the action scenes and special effects are passable. The dialogues still save the day after all.

Sukting's ratings:
On acting : **1/2 (Scale of 5)
On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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