Lupin the 3rd: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Discotek
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 82
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Lupin the 3rd: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy

By Chris Beveridge     February 20, 2006
Release Date: February 28, 2006

What They Say
This Strange Psychokinetic Strategy sends Lupin, sexy cat-burglar Fujiko, quick-draw gunman Jigen and their relentless pursuer Inspector Zenigata on a chase through jewel-filled safes, Tokyo streets, and even Lupin's childhood.

The Maccherone organization is out to get a priceless national treasure. But when they see third-generation cat-burglar Lupin as an obstacle, countless assassins are send to kill him on sight an kidnap his girl Fujiko! Can Lupin get the loot before the Maccherone gang, rescue Fujiko, and stay alive at the same time?

The Review!
Back before Lupin had spread out to be as massively popular as it became, an attempt at a live action version of the original manga hit the silver screen.

As no English language adaptation has been done for this in the past, we only get the Japanese language track for this release. The stereo mix is pretty solid for its time and is, other than being a bit low in a few areas, a very clean and serviceable mix that captures what it was like to see this back when it was made. It's not huge on directionality and the music has a very full feeling to it but it's not something that's intended to be much more than that. We had no problems with this track at all and had no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 1974, the transfer for this film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source materials for this are in fantastic condition and if it wasn't for the costumes and quirky visual effects that are so emblematic of filmmaking in Japan and elsewhere at the time you'd be hard pressed to really notice much of a difference from a number of current films coming out of there. The print is really just clean and pristine throughout with hardly anything being really noteworthy in terms of dust or damage to it. Nothing struck me during the initial viewing and in skimming through it on a smaller and closer monitor afterwards it's only much more striking in how good this looks. Odds are this is better looking than it was in many theaters during its run.

I couldn't track down what the original theatrical posters were like but the cover here is decent and catches the spirit of the film with the lead trio all dolled up with their signature items and looking snappy for the times. The logo isn't one we've seen on other Lupin releases and the banner along the top doesn't distract much either. The cover won't be memorable by any stretch of the imagination but it's not one that makes you wonder what they were thinking. The back cover provides only a pair of shots from the film while giving over most of its space to the summary of the plot. The discs features and basic production information are very easy to read and the layout is easy to use overall. The reverse side cover is rather basic with Lupin striking a pose on one panel with the chapter listings underneath. One very good inclusion in the packaging that has made Discotek releases better to date is the insert that covers the history of Lupin at the time, talks about the characters and music as well as some of the in-jokes and other cultural items that may slip the viewer by.

The menu is done up in a 2.35:1 layout and has images from the film moving in across it set to the music from the film. It's not too exciting but it serves well as it gives you a taste of what's to come. More importantly, the navigation is quick and easy to access with the basics and it's problem free. With the languages and subtitles as they are, our presets weren't an issue since the discs default settings matched ours.

The only included extra is the original theatrical trailer for the film and a series of stills in a photo gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having been a huge Lupin fan for years, ever since I first saw a brief animated chase scene, the last five years or so have been a fantastic time for people like me. We've gotten a lot of the manga, we've seen a good chunk of the second TV season and we've had a slew of the movies and specials come out with even more on the way for all of it. The one thing that's really eluded for so long has been the single live action movie that was attempted back in 1974.

The theatrical version of the very popular franchise is an interesting piece. As many movies do they take the elements they want from the source and change everything else so in that regard this movie doesn't escape what so many others go through. For example, Goemon is nowhere to be found and Jigen actually worked for Lupin the Second. Zenigata never seems to wear his trenchcoat and he's got a pair of assistants that he's able to beat up on a regular basis. Yet, even with several key things seemingly missing it still retains a lot of the spirit of the original manga series while bringing in a number of things that were popular at the time and elsewhere in the world in terms of visual style.

The films revolves around Lupin, thief extraordinaire, who looks at Japan as his and spends it all over, from high class hotels to the lowest of slums. In his minds eye it's all his so he has to find places in all of it to truly call home. He lives from day to day to whatever catches his eye and the latest that's caught his eye is a young woman in a prisoner truck named Fujiko Mine. Promising to break her out of prison so that she'll date him, he engineers a simplistic plan to do just that and the two escape. She's intent to take advantage of him though and heads off for her own adventures and leaving Lupin holding the bag as the police want him more now. While on the run, Lupin finds himself meeting Daisuke Jigen, the sole survivor of the Lupin the Second empire. Jigen is trying to find Lupin so that he can pass on the thirty billion yen note he has in order to restart the empire.

Lupin wants none of it though and is more interested in just finding Fujiko (though he does have time for other women along the way) and bedding her. She keeps turning up like a bad penny and works Lupin into doing jobs for her, such as a jewel heist worth 560 billion yen. Lupin keeps refusing Jigen's pleas and even tosses away the thirty billion note since he doesn't really care. But Jigen keeps coming back to help Lupin in the hopes that he'll really decide to give up this carefree rogues life and become a proper criminal. Lupin, Fujiko and Jigen end up in some loosely tied together adventures and capers that keep bringing them up against either the police or the Maccherone crime organization that's fearful of a new Lupin empire as well as wanting a priceless artifact that everyone seems to get wind of near the end of the film.

Like a lot of Japanese films that I've seen in the last year from the early to mid seventies, Lupin plays out in a similar manner where there's no real solid unified plot until the final act of the movie that attempts to tie things together. Everything before it is just simply wild wacky fun that tries to duplicate the Lupin manga in some ways. Some of it works and some of it doesn't depending on whether you really put this film in context with the time of its release. One thing that doesn't play well today is the entire "Benny Hill" chase sequence material where they all run around at a sped up film speed with silly music. This gets used a number of times to provide some extra spice to the chase sequences. I used to laugh at this twenty years ago when I first saw Benny Hill but it's not something I can find all that funny anymore.

One of the things that did have me laughing out loud as something that was simply priceless in this film is the entire sequence where Lupin finds himself up against a group of women in black spandex called the Poppies. The vocals, the music, the action… oh so priceless. Whether you enjoy this sequence or not will determine whether you enjoy this film or not I think.

A lot of things it does get right though. Hideko Ezaki is perfect for this interpretation of Fujiko and it also appears to be her only film role at that. She has the right mix of spunky, sultry and truly sexy as she deals with the overly horny Lupin that's trying to get into her panties. Yuki Meguro takes a bit of getting used to as Lupin though since his laid back style and general appearance doesn’t mesh as well as the manga or anime image we all have. Fujiko is able to get away with I think simply because her animated image has changed so often over the years and her manga version went through a number of costumes and hair styles as well. Kunie Tanaka completely nails the look of Jigen though but the script doesn't give us the rough and tumble independent Jigen we know but rather someone whose more interested in seeing Lupin succeed and the empire return. It's interesting to see the careers of these people as other than Ezaki, all of them are still working in one form or another with recent productions.

In Summary:
A live action movie is either a serious piece or a film full of nothing but kitsch. Either one can work I think based on what we've seen the anime versions do over the years though the serious ones need to have some good sex appeal and snarky comedy with it. The kitschy version we get here works in its own way as well and is an interesting and mildly amusing romp through a franchise that was still pretty much in its early stages and much more open to interpretation. I've loved the Lupin gang of characters for near on twenty years now so getting to see something as unique as this is a real treat and it's just a hell of a lot of fun to watch if you go into it with the right attitude and even more so if you're familiar with the kinds of films being made around the world at the time. By today's standards it's a joke but in context to its time it's a fun little comedy with some sex appeal and amusing kinds of action and adventure.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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jnager 3/13/2012 9:06:49 PM

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