It’s a crazy world we live in; Zenigata is helping Lupin steal a nuclear sub. ICPO wants Lupin brought in dead or alive. And Jigen has a secret past with a Russian nuclear scientist. What awaits our gang on their Voyage to Danger?
For my primary viewing, I listened to the Japanese audio track. The action is primarily concentrated in the center channel. Dialogue, sound effects, and music were all sharp and balanced very well. The English dub dialogue is quite different from the literal translation used for the Japanese language subtitles. Most notably, two of the character names are changed; the Japanese track uses Karen Korosky and Jean Claude while the English dub uses Karen Korinsky and John Klause. The English voice acting was on par with what I have listened to in previous releases.
Presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, the video holds up very well. There are some visible nicks in the film most noticeable in the first few minutes. The colors were well balanced and captured the feel of the scene. The submarine and underwater sequences were suitably dark but provided plenty of detail. Surface shots were bright fitting in well with the tropical locations.
Subtitles were displayed using a white font; they were large enough to be readable yet small enough to not take away from too much of the action. Two angles are present on the disc; the first angle is used for the English language track. This angle displays on-screen English credits during the opening sequence; however, these credits once again omit to credit the Japanese voice actors. The second angle is used for the Japanese language track and leaves the opening sequence free of subtitles.
As with previous Lupin releases from Funimation, the only insert inside the case is one page that contains the front cover shot on one side with a listing of other titles on the opposite side.
However, Funimation has put together a great front cover; a burning building is in the background. Jigen, Lupin, and Karen stand in front of a gunsight that is targeting the building; the title is underneath them. The image and the title work together well and create an eye-catching cover.
The back cover contains the usual summary of features, plot synopsis, and shots from the film. The packaging also ties in nicely to the fact that Jigen is a central figure in this outing; he is prominently featured on both the front and back cover. It is a nice and subtle touch that can be admired after one’s initial viewing. The spine art also matches the style of the previous release, Dragon of Doom. It appears that Funimation might be going for a more uniform look to the spines for the remainder of their releases.
There is one last amusing note; the DVD comes with a “15+” warning on the back cover. However, a sticker on the plastic wrapper states “13+”.
Funimation continues to improve their menus with each release. The most notable improvement is in the language menu. When you enter the language menu, you are presented with two choices: English or Japanese. After selecting your preferred language, you are brought to a second screen that allows you to turn subtitle on or off.
However, the subtitle screen does not indicate what sort of subtitles one is choosing. If the viewer is familiar with previous Lupin titles from Funimation, they will know that choosing “English” and then turning subtitles on will provide them with what is essentially a closed-captioning track for the English dialogue. This still might be slightly confusing to someone that is picking up their first Lupin title from Funimation. One hopes that Funimation will make the final step in their next release and have the subtitle menu indicate which type of subtitles the viewer is choosing.
The menus provide nice background music and have no transition animation when making a choice. It provides a quick, smooth interface to get you right into the action.
Trailers and profiles are once again the only extras on this disc. Sadly, the profiles suffer from two errors. First, they misspelled the character name Keith as “Kieth” in the menu item. Second, they reversed the character pictures for Brad and Keith. One wonders how these two errors were overlooked. One hopes that at least one Lupin disc from Funimation will contain profiles for the Japanese voice actors as well. I would be satisfied with a simple picture and a short list of their other work.
Content: (possible spoilers)
After another heist, Lupin and Jigen are surrounded in a building by the local police. A lone car pulls up, and Zenigata steps out ordering the police to leave. He enters the building alone and asks Lupin to drink with him. Today is a sad day for Zenigata as ICPO has served him with papers that remove him from the Lupin case. Zenigata feels humiliated for not having caught Lupin after all these years, but the worst humiliation will be when his replacement catches Lupin. Jigen asks who is replacing Zenigata; Zengiata replies “Keith”.
ICPO wants Lupin and his gang taken down for good, and they have called in Keith Hayden, a former and highly lethal ICPO agent. Their orders to Keith are simple; bring Lupin and his gang back… dead or alive. Lupin and Jigen are driving a sleeping Zenigata around trying to figure out what to do next when Jigen notices that Zenigata’s papers have new orders. Zenigata is now assigned to track down a large scale, weapons dealing organization known as “Shot Shell”. Given their business, Shot Shell is sure to have tons of cash, and Lupin decides that he will help Zenigata find Shot Shell and then help himself to the cash. Zenigata hears this decision and decides to throw in and help Lupin take down Shot Shell so he can be reassigned to the task of arresting Lupin.
To do this, Lupin gathers the gang together and decides to steal the Ivanov, the latest Russian sub. Shot Shell will certainly contact them to buy such a prize. But they are going to need someone to show them how to pilot the sub. Someone else has the same idea and tries to kidnap Karen Korosky, the Russian nuclear scientist who developed the Ivanov. Naturally, Lupin foils their plan and takes Karen to the sub himself.
Can Lupin find Shot Shell and relieve them of their financial burden before Keith relieves Lupin of his life? And what secret past do Karen and Jigen share?
What follows is ninety minutes of solid yet fairly predictable plot development. The action and plot could easily be made into the latest Bond film and gives the film a less light-hearted feeling than other Lupin titles. There are some comedic elements and scenes but nothing beyond a stray joke here or there.
The best part of the film is the sub-plot involving Jigen and Karen. We gain insight into Jigen’s personality and attitude towards life from how Jigen handles his deadly past with Karen. Since the plot revolves around the theft of a submarine, they are not many opportunities for exciting chase sequences. However, the pacing of the dialogue and setup for the few action sequences are done well, and the film manages to avoid a sense of slow-down.
The incidental music is the usual fare for Lupin films. The ending theme song is one of the most forgettable ones I have heard, but it feels like a Bond theme and fits the tone of the film. Overall, this is an enjoyable film; it is a change of pace from the usual Lupin hijinks and provides the viewer with a “Hollywood action film” level of entertainment.
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 20th, 2003
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Mitsubishi 27″ TV, Pioneer DVL-919, S-Video cable, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers