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Rupan Sansei: Babiron no Ogon Densetsu

Lupin III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon
Lupin III: The Gold of Babylon

Japan 1985
produced by
Tetsuo Katayama, Kazusishi Sano, Hidehiko Takei, Yutaka Fujioka (executive) for Toho, Nippon Television Network (= NTV), Tokyo Movie Shinsha, Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation
directed by Seijun Suzuki, Shigetsugu Yoshida
screenplay by Monkey Punch, Yoshio Urasawa, Atsushi Yamatoya, based on a manga by Monkey Punch, music by Yuji Ono

anime
Lupin III

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In New York (of all places), stone tablets leading to the tower of Babylon, which is supposed to house an immense gold treasure, are found, and of course masterthief Lupin III wants to get his hands on the treasure, thus always on the run from Interpol inspector Zenigata, who has teamed up with five beauty queens for this adventure, Lupin steals the tablets from gagnster boss Marciano ... and it's off to Iraq with his trusted sidekicks Gigen and Goemon and his girlfriend Fujiko.

Once in Iraq, Lupin and company have to realize someone has beaten them to the location the tower is thought to be - which is also a good thing though, so it's already partly excavated. Eventually, Lupin makes it into what is thought to be part of the tower, masters all kind of booby traps, and gets his hands on a giant golden winged lion, which he somehow manages to save from the place that immediately after he has found the thing starts caving in, and from here on it's a chase through the desert, running from Marciano's men and Zenigata and his beauty queens, who have borrowed tanks from the Kuwaiti army. Lupin and company manage to evade all their pursuers, but then Fujiko steals the lion from the others and tries to make a getaway on a yacht - when she and the lion are picked up by Marciano's battleship.

Lupin figures the lion can't be all that's left of Babylon's vast treasure, that the tower itself has to be the treasure, and that it for some weird reason will be found in New York (where the stone tablets were found) of course. And it all has to do with Halley's comet as well ...

Back in New York, Lupin finds part of the treasure, frees Fujiko ... and then the comet passes, and somehow, a golden tower rises from the underground and flies toward the comet which is of course a spaceship on a mission to steal Babylon's gold. However, Lupin finds a way to cut the gold tower free from the comet/spaceship, upon which the tower disintegrates - but at least Lupin has the satisfaction that nobody has taken his loot ...

 

Seijun Suzuki doing an anime - now that sounds like something. However, if you expect Suzuki's trademark absurdity, you will find yourself a bit disappointed - but that said, with this film, Suzuki was forced to work in the context of a series (for the TV incarnation of which he had also directed several episodes), but on the plus side, the series as such did allow many surreal ideas and did go intentionally stupid every once in a while as it is.

So what you can expect from the film is an amazing number of chases which time and again quote the best Looney Tune cartoons from the 1940's, serial-style storytelling, a light-footed approach to the material at hand, jokes that range from the intentionally silly to the surreal and to the ingenious, and lots of fun. And in my book at least, this sounds like great entertainment.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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written by
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