For over fifty years Monkey Punch’s beloved character Arsene Lupin III, aka Lupin the Third, has delighted fans of all ages. Regardless of whether it is the Manga books, numerous television series or films, such as Hayao Miyazaki’s debut feature The Castle of Cagliostro, the endearing charm of the iconic “gentleman thief” has never waivered. Much of this has to do with the characters fun mixture of James Bond meets Indiana Jones style adventures with a slapstick comedic sensibility.
The winning blend of action and comedy can be found in Lupin III: The First, the first in the franchise to be rendered in CGI. Set in the 1960s, director Takashi Yamazaki’s latest film finds Lupin, the grandson of Arsène Lupin of the Maurice Leblanc’s series of novels, and his crew attempting to unlock the secrets of the Bresson Diary. A journal from World War II, the diary is believed to hold the location of a powerful treasure. Of course, Lupin is not the only one interested in obtaining the diary. Members of the Third Reich are intent on using the mysterious power to resurrect their army and complete Hitler’s vision of world domination.
Determined to reach the treasure before the Nazis, Lupin teams up with Laetitia, a young archelogy student and reluctant thief, who has personal ties to the diary, to decipher the journal’s many clues. As if navigating dangerous ancient tombs and Nazis were not enough, Lupin must also keep one step ahead of Interpol Inspector Zenigata who has made it his life’s mission to put the gentleman thief behind bars once and for all.
Those familiar with adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and National Treasure will know what to expect from Lupin III: The First plot wise. Lupin and his friends jump from one elaborate trap to the next while using every trick and weapon in their arsenal. While the narrative may be familiar, the film thrives thanks in part to the sheer sense of fun it evokes. Newcomers and hardcore fans alike will enjoy the mix of humor and adventure that fills every corner of the film. Furthermore, the crisp CGI rendering not only modernizes the characters for a new generation, but also make the action sequences really pop.
The Blu-ray, which hits stores tomorrow courtesy of GKIDS and Shout! Factory, has both a “CG Model Gallery” and an “Animation Breakdown” featurette that provides some additional insight into the CGI work on the film. There is also an “English Cast Reunion” via Zoom where the voice actors share some thoughts on how they approached their roles. While there are several other bonus features to dive into, it is the film itself that offers the greatest replay value. Offering the right amount of action and humour, Lupin III: The First is a pure delight.
Bonus Features: English Cast Reunion, CG Model Gallery, Animation Breakdown, Yellow Carpet Premiere, Theatrical Trailers and Promos, Interviews with Director and Japanese Cast.