Lupin The Third is the second live-action adaptation of the manga of the same name by Monkey Punch. The first one was released way back 1974.
For me who grew up watching and loving almost all Hana Yori Dango versions, seeing Taiwan’s Dao Ming Si and Japan’s Rui Hanazawa on the big screen was quite a surreal experience. In addition, there’s Korea’s F4 representative Kim Joon. Though he isn’t always a memorable actor, he delivered his English and Japanese lines with understandable enunciation. Some people wouldn’t have probably realized he’s Korean until he said,”daebak”.
For those who aren’t into the all-star pretty flower boys, the film has more eye candies to offer. Tetsuji Tamayama as Jigen is a real ikemen but I like him better without facial hair.
There’s a long haired Ayano Go for the jidai geki fanatics.
For the male crowd, a seductive Meisa Kuroki appears with the whole “fighting in leather pants then accidentally setting off the fire sprinkler for a mandatory wet look” sexy action cliché.
Playing Inspector Zenigata is none other than the iconic Tadanobu Asano.
GOOD ACTOR/BAD WRITING
This movie isn’t exactly a good adaptation but Oguri Shun prevented it from getting worse. He has stepped into the shoes of minor and major manga characters in the past and this time, he transformed once again as the modern faced, sideburns-free Arsene Lupin III. He has totally captured all of Lupin’s well known attributes: extremely charming but quite childish, sometimes obnoxious, sometimes crude.
He’s the ringleader of an elite group of thieves that includes the gorgeous Mine Fujiko, master sniper Jigen, swordsman Goemon, brainy hacker Pierre and the conflicted anti-hero Michael who all have joined forces to retrieve the precious “Crimson Heart of Cleopatra”.
Having an all-star cast, however, cannot save the film’s numerous plot holes and nauseating action scenes.
It wasn’t too long ago when South Korea produced an Ocean’s Eleven-ish movie with a no-brainer title, Thieves. With an expert ensemble for an impossible mission to break through an establishment of the highest security, Lupin’s plot is just all too familiar. It’s too generic and isn’t exactly sure of what it wants to be and where it needs to go. It couldn’t even decide on which language to use. I get that it wants to appeal to a wider international demographics but the English script made it uncomfortable for its actors to express emotions since they’re too focused on delivering their lines. Even the changes in locations didn’t seem too relevant at all. They could’ve filmed everything in Japan and it wouldn’t make any difference.
Lupin has a lot of qualities that could’ve been highlighted in the film. He has plenty of skills that could have been used for a deeper plot and better action sequences: like his ability to disguise himself, his fluency in many languages, his dislike for killing, his escape expertise, and brilliance for deductions and strategies almost on par with Detective Conan. I’m afraid the movie’s focus shifted on Michael Lee when it should have been more Lupin-centric.
Lupin The Third is directed by Kitamura Ryuhei, the director of Azumi and Godzilla: Final Wars. By now, live-action makers should have been able to take some notes on how to make action sequences from the 2012 Rurouni Kenshin movie. This film sticks with the shaky cam technique for a more realistic appeal but they’re also dimly lit and poorly edited so in the end, the action scenes ended up literally painful to watch.
On the comic side, there were jokes that fell flat but the actors’ charms make up for it. Scene stealer Ayano Go’s deadpan lines were a hit and I found myself laughing with the rest of the audience whenever he appears.
The movie also includes a cute cameo..
On a scale of 1 to Dragon Ball Evolution, I’d say Lupin III Live action sits comfortably in the middle (as long as you don’t take the movie too seriously). It’s a lackluster adaptation but not as horrible as most reviews made it out to be (especially if you’ve seen worse).