Friday, 3 October 2014

Lupin III (2014)

Madcap, frenetic, and cheekily good-humoured, Lupin III is a great introduction to a manga classic

A genius thief teams up with other career criminals from all over the world to steal the greatest treasures known to mankind. Why Arsene Lupin III and his pals do it doesn’t seem to be important although their aged mentor claims they only steal from the rich and powerful—which makes them either anarchists or revolutionaries even though Lupin III is very much a gentleman thief who shares with James Bond a taste for convoluted plots, gadgets, high living, and femmes fatale.

While this live action feature adaptation isn’t the first (see the slapstick Strange Psychokinetic Strategy), it serves as a general introduction to of Lupin III, his collaborators and rogues gallery that the franchise has accrued over the years. In a series of heists and setpieces in this film set in Singapore, Thailand, and Japan, Lupin III alternately teams up with and outwits the marksman Jigen, the swordsman Goemon, the love interest and femme fatale Fujiko Mine, and the inspector Zenigata (here played by a scenery-chewing Asano) to liberate ill-gotten treasures from their owners.

The pacing is so madcap, it scarcely matters why this alliance of thieves keep changing by the minute (even though it makes sense and is rather clever in a way that is reminiscent of say, Pirates of the Caribbean) or why there’s more fighting at times than sleuthing and thieving (aside from the film featuring a great number of Thai action stars and a stuntwork team). What entertains is the chemistry between the cast and how they play their roles both as faces and heels, and how the cast manage to keep up the zaniness from the manga even in life action.

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