Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy

The third generation gentleman’s thief has returned in his first big screen, live action adventure as Monkey Punch’s Lupin III finds himself dealing with a sexy burglar, an ace gunman willing to serve him, and an inspector wanting to toss him in jail. Arsène Lupin III (Yuki Meguro; Shogun) happens to notice a beautiful woman in a paddywagon on her way to prison. Fujiko Mine (Hideko Ezaki) has her eyes set on robbing a jewelry show and this gentleman thief may be the perfect rube to help her. Add the entire Maccherone crime family wanting to stop this third-generation thief from reviving the Lupin Empire and you have just a hint of the zany plot in Discotek Media’s Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy.

DVD: Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy
Release Date: 2/28/2006
Release Studio: Discotek Media

MSRP: $24.95
Audio: Japanese 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English
Episodes: Movie
Runtime: 82mins
Extras: Lupin the 3rd trailer, Photo Gallery, Fold-out notes.

Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product.

Lupin begins his day as any thief would: he steals a car and heads out for an adventure. Fujiko Mine has found herself caught by the police and is being taken to prison when a certain driver notices her beautiful but sad face. After he catches up to the paddywagon and climbs on top, Lupin begins to sweet talk the sexy prisoner and promises to break her out that night. As darkness sets in around the prison, the gentleman thief breaks Fujiko out with a romp while the guards run all over the place. Once the pair are safely away, Lupin can’t help but want to get to know Fujiko (who has lost her pants in the commotion) much, much better. However, Fujiko isn’t that easy of a girl and knocks Lupin out with a tree branch. Inspector Koichi Zenigata (Shiro Ito; Princess from the Moon) and the police arrest Lupin on suspicion of being involved with Fujiko Mine’s getaway.

Daisuke Jigen (Kunie Tanaka; All About Our House, Jigoku) is the last remaining member of the Lupin empire built by Arsène Lupin II years ago. Thanks to Maccherone’s betrayal, the international Lupin crime organization was brought down and Maccherone’s empire started to rise. Jigen, however, thinks he may have found a possible heir to Lupin II after recognizing a man in a picture with a tattoo Lupin II had placed on all his children. The priest of an orphanage begins to tell the story of a young Lupin III and the trouble he would cause daily as a child. After hearing the tales of a naughty half-Japanese, half-French child who would steal panties, break windows, and cause other mischief, Jigen is convinced that the person he saw is the true heir to the empire he still wishes to serve. Jigen heads to the city to search for Lupin.

Zenigata throws the book at Lupin, but nothing sticks to this thief as guards can’t identify the man who helped Fujiko and there is no proof that Lupin assisted her. Well, there is the fact that he’s wearing boxers and Fujiko’s prisoner shirt, but he dismisses these as having been robbed by the woman in question. As Zenigata and his two bumbling fools make a mess of the case, Lupin decides to walk out the front door and bumps into Jigen. Jigen is sure that this man is Lupin and follows him around the corner with his gun drawn. Lupin may be skilled at stripping guns off of people, but Jigen has a lot of guns. Lupin offers that he doesn’t want an empire but rather a democracy, and Jigen takes the news hard. Just as the conversation gets going, Inspector Zenigata interrupts and Lupin is on the run again while Jigen tries to hold the police back.

Lupin manages to find his love again and swears he’ll give her anything she wants. Of course, Fujiko wants a fortune in jewels. To be specific, a world jewelry show is in town and she needs Lupin’s help to break into the convention hall where the jewelry will be on display. In typical Lupin fashion, Fujiko plays her would-be suitor while Jigen gets stuck doing some of the grunt work. They manage to break into the convention hall, but their troubles are only just beginning.

Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy (Rupan sansei: Nenrikichan Sakusen) is the same campy romp of fun and sight gags that made the Batman TV series popular (or Austin Powers, for those needing a more modern reference) and worth every second of laughs offered. A few of the gags will require some background knowledge of either Japanese culture or the Lupin manga by Monkey Punch, but a multiple-page foldout insert contains plenty of notes that will fill in the back story and answer almost any questions you may have. When it comes to manga-to-live-action-film projects, you could not ask for a better re-imagining of Lupin’s whacky hijinks for the silverscreen. Sure, characters do some goofy things—like Lupin freezing in the air while Fujiko opens a door—but it just fits the campy atmosphere so well that the film wouldn’t work without it. Yuki Meguro plays Lupin perfectly as the horny guy trying to live a carefree life and get some tail. Kunie Tanaka is equally fitting for Daisuke’s loyalty to Lupin and penchant for guns. I laughed pretty hard when he opened his jacket to reveal the countless number of guns he carries on his body. Hideko Ezaki can’t match Fujiko’s famous rack, but her slim body and seductive voice make for a great peformance. Being an older film (1974), I am really surprised at how well the silly material has held up for over thirty years.

Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy is a lot of laughs from start to finish with a fun plot and lots of adventure snuck into the film. Lupin may have ditched his usual attire for a white disco suit and the storyline may not always play faithful to the original source material, but it doesn’t matter when the film works this well as an adaptation. The video looks great with the new Toho master used and the subtitles contain no errors. The DVD extras, aside from the foldout insert of notes, are the original theatrical trailer and a large photo gallery of set stills and promotional pieces. Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy is worth the time, effort, and price to grab a copy and enjoy this classic film. While Hollywood may never get around to making their live action adaptation, it would be hard to beat this fantastic film.