Written by: Ron Cotton on February 24th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, August 3rd, 197
Director: Takashi Tsuboshima
Cast: Yuki Meguro, Kunie Tanaka, Shirô Itô, Arihiro Fujimura, Maria Anzai, Hideko Ezaki, Takashi Ezaki
DVD released: February 21st, 2006
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Discotek
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Lupin the Third (Yuki Meguro), the master thief falls madly head over heals in love with a female convict Fujiko Mine (Hideko Ezaki). Released, Fujiko goes back to her cat- burglaring ways, where her needs knows no bounds. Lupin’s passion for Fujiko overwhelms the boundaries of his safety and he is soon wanted by both Zenigata (Shiro Ito) and the Maccherone Gang. As numerous enemies train for Lupin, Jigen desperately pleads with Lupin to reclaim his forefather’s empire. Will Lupin turn his lemons into lemonade?
What makes Lupin the Third difficult to watch is that the bulk doesn’t follow the linear path of a hero with one narrow goal that is oh-so expected from todays modern films. Instead, Lupin the Third is more of a series of scenes bringing eye candy to the masses with an ending that some would call lacking. The black-lytexed Poppies who disrobe their nun costumes and proceed to sing about Lupin doesn’t really much sense in the grand scheme of the film. Scenes like these, which feel like intermissions or montages appear throughout the film without the expected cues. This is a complete change of pace for most viewers while few will find this a refreshing departure.
Kunie Tanaka, who acted as Daisuke Jigen is perhaps the most faithful character adaptation from the series, while Hideko Ezaki’s role as Fujiko Mine was the most admirable and was the driving force of Lupin (Yuki Meguro).While Yuki Meguro didn’t have the expected look of Lupin, he did have a charm and a flare of his own. Zenigata (Shiro Ito) lacks his trench, and instead vents and groans about Lupin with strong physical comedy. This other side of Zenigata works with Strange Psychokinetic Strategy. On a sad note, there’s no Goemon Ishikawa in this incarnation of Lupin.
Toho’s live action take of Lupin the Third was to familiarize the audience of the much undiscussed back story. In turn, this changed the overall motivations and dynamics of the lead characters. Nonetheless, Lupin the Third is an integral part and filmed in the spirit of the whole Lupin franchise. Both the expected and the unexpected are wrapped up in this film. The characteristic open foot stance found in Lupin anime is shot at least three times throughout this live-action adaptation. For a detective story with guns, it has very little bloodshed siding more on the comedic side of things. To hardcore Lupin fans, this is quite a different tale.
Expect cartoon physics to take effect! Jumps that seem endless with “fast” fight scenes being precursors of the Matrix’s bullet time was humorous. At times, the goofy dialog and the physical antics draw a laugh or two. Unfortunately, these small morsels kept me asking for more and left me a bit on the empty side.
The video transfer appears faithful in color. The lightened edges gives Lupin the Third the appearance as if it was processed with sharpening filters. Also, the image appears to have heavy grain. Besides these minor setbacks, the transfer is undoubtedly from a very clean print with no defects. No sign of any digital breakup during play. The audio has been upgraded from Mono to Stereo, a nice addition with little fault. As expected from most 35mm films from the 70s, the color space and focus is a dramatic backdrop. The attention and direction of space in the wide screen frame is something to be applauded from that era of films. The sets and the attention built to create this masterpiece is profound. Beyond the look of this nostalgic film, the charm comes from the bravado that an actor can attempt anything without it being uncouth or outside his scope.
The DVD cover designed by Savage Eye appears to be a production photo that has been photoshoped for this newer scheme enclosed in a transparent keep case. The menus were sparse but easily to navigate. The trailer for Lupin the Third contained many of the key moments thus, this feature is to be avoided at all costs! Not to say that it combined every great moment, it contained enough to spoil the first viewing of this film. The photo gallery was a nice touch.
The liner notes are quite extensive and encompassing for a Lupin release unfolding and divided into separate sections. Early History of Lupin the Third details the creation initially envisioned by Kazuhiko Katou (Monkey Punch) and ends with the culmination of all the Lupin releases. The Characters of Lupin the Third explains in a nutshell the who’s who of the Lupin series. The Lyrics for Koi no Chance sung by the Poppies. Ending with Notes about Strange Psychokinetic Strategy outlining little known facts in the film. All and all, Reed Nelson leaves no stone unturned making his liner notes yet another reason to purchase Lupin the Third. My only regret is that Reed Nelson should have included his own audio commentary because of his expertise in everything Lupin.
Lupin isn’t what’s expected by most, yet triumphs most adapted live action and for most Lupin collectors anything Region 1 is adored. Overall, this is a mixed blessing and is a unique release. On the other hand, Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy isn’t the cream of the crop. Don’t take things too seriously and one watch should quench your fill.