Movie review: Lupin III – Dragon of Doom
Many stories were lost with the Titanic, including that of Arsène Lupin who – according to Dragon of Doom – died trying to steal a mysterious and powerful golden statuette. Now his grandson has been hired by a Hong Kong crime boss to complete the mission by diving down to the recently discovered ship. Little does Lupin III know that capturing the dragon is only the beginning of an adventure that will eventually pit him against his oldest and most loyal friends.
I’m not a big Lupin head – even though I’ve cosplayed as him a couple of times. I’ve only seen Castle of Cagliostro and a handful of episodes of the show, so I didn’t have many expectations for Dragon of Doom. My only concern, actually, was that since this movie is so recent – 1994 – they were going to do one of those “re-inventions” of the character, where they try to find deeper emotional motivations and backstory explanations. I’m looking at you, Dr. Who.
Thankfully, Dragon keeps it simple. It’s a thrilling heist movie with twists and turns you don’t always expect. The characters are true to themselves, fitting into their traditional roles with aplomb. The only disappointment is Zenigata, the bumbling Interpol inspector on a life-long mission to capture Lupin, who is used solely as comic relief. If he was a real threat to stop Lupin, he could have added another layer of tension to the film. Thankfully, there are enough challenges for Lupin to deal with that the movie moves along briskly and is tonnes of fun.
Another reason to watch Dragon is because it holds a special place in the Lupin universe – it is the last performance of Lupin’s classic voice actor Yasuo Yamada, who died less than a year after the film’s release. In my limited experience of his work, this is a fitting testament to his legacy.
Highly recommended for fans and newbies.