Lupin the 3rd: Island of Assassins
Personally, Iím someone where the more Lupin, the better. I'm more then happy knowing that they have over a hundred episodes, and movies and TV specials that number in the double digits. So whenever I see a new release coming out, I make sure to put some money away so that I can pick it right up. Island of Assassins was one of those Lupin films released, and itís right in line with the rest of the series, but there's still one thing about it that got to me.
There is a great story below the surface that involves Lupin going after someone who seems to be a very old enemy from the past who took something very special of his. The idea of Lupin going after something from his past lends itself well to this movie, which other Lupin works typically don't touch upon. It's also a much darker story then you're use to, taking a more serious approach than previous films.
The story on the surface involves a group of assassins know as the Tarantulas. They are an elite group of assassins that have existed throughout time, changing history and dealing with powerful political figures. As usual, this movie starts off with an intense action scene that always gets things started off right and which ties in with the story.
Lupin and Zenigata arrive at the same party hosted by the Tarantulas. While there, the Tarantulas take out some very prominent guests. Zenigata even falls victim to one, as he gets shot while chasing Lupin. Lupin notices the tattoo on the shooterís hand, and that the weapon that he used to do it was one very dear to Lupin in his past.
This causes Lupin to find out who this group is and go after them. His main reason for going after the group is to go after the person who shot Zenigata, but not because of what he did to Zenigata. Lupin finds the island that the infamous Tarantulas call home, and he travels there with Jigen. While there, Lupin finds out that a massive amount of gold also calls the island home. The gold is the payments that the Tarantulas receive for their services, mainly from government officials. Of course, there is also a very attractive female member that Lupin becomes quite interested in.
Lupin ends up getting caught by the Tarantulas, and he has a tattoo put on him that all of the members have. The tattoo certainly ends up being for more than just show, as it holds a secret to the organization. From here on, Lupin must find a way to escape the island and to help out the beautiful girl. It also turns out that more than just Lupin wants to escape; many of the Tarantulas are tired of killing.
Now this sounds like a great story and a lot of fun, which it is. Island of Assassins manages to pack in a lot of quality action scenes, witty dialogue, a great story, and of course, all of the usual Lupin fun. Even with all of this, it still manages to lose me a bit with the ending. I would have rated it higher, but Island of Assassins left me with an unsatisfying taste in my mouth. Whether it is how Lupin actually "wrapped" up the problem, or the fact that it seems like the writers forget to solve the BIGGEST problem facing Lupin at his current time, either way, Island of Assassins didn't completely bring this great package all together in the end.
Some other things that might bother a few, and one that I know bothered me was Lupin not caring that Zenigata got shot, and that he could be dead. During all of the episodes and movies, you know that Lupin really cares about Zenigata, and Zenigata deep down even cares about Lupin, but Lupin couldn't care less about how he might be dead in this movie. Although this wasn't a problem for me, Island of Assassins is Lupin heavy. I know with this being a Lupin film, that shouldn't be surprising, but this movie seems to focus even more on Lupin then usual. I'm a huge fan of the entire cast, and I like to see more of a balance, especially with Goemon, who seemed to get ripped off in this film.
The animation is really nice throughout, with the great-looking actions scenes that you've come to expect from Lupin films, and nice-looking backgrounds that are highlighted in the amazing cityscapes. It seems like the budget might have been stepped up for Island of Assassins. The character designs are even slightly improved from your typical Lupin film.
As usual, one of the highlights of Lupin the 3rd is the voice acting. As usual, you have some great dub work here. The music isn't anything special in this movie, and it doesn't really stand out in any way, positive or negative. The sound, however, is very nice in the 5.1 format. It really helped to highlight the action scenes.
This release offers a few decent extras, which include an image gallery and character profiles. Nothing to praise here, but at least they show some effort and give you something.
Overall, Island of Assassins is an enjoyable, amusing, action-packed movie with a good story, but it still managed to leave me scratching my head a little when the credits rolled. I'd say that fans of Lupin will want to pick this one up right away, if they haven't already, and action fans will have a lot to see. Just don't expect to leave saying it was one of the all-time greats.