Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar Anime Review
Lupin III: "The $1 Money Wars"
US Release By
What's In It
- Gentleman Thieves
- Gruff Gunmen
- Ultra-Cool Samurai
- Bumbling INTERPOL Agents
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 0 (none)
In his latest adventure, Lupin and his gang of international thieves on are on the trail of a ring sought after by some of the richest people in the world. Although it appears worthless, the ring holds to the key to locating a brooch possessed by some the world's most famous and brutal dictators, from Napoleon to Hitler. Supposedly the brooch contains a secret power that aided them in their conquests, and to this day it is still sought out by people looking to make their mark on history--people like World Bank president Cynthia Fullerton. With an army of mercenaries led by an ex-KGB assassin named Nabikov at her disposal, Lupin and his companions have their work cut out for them in a race against time to try and get the brooch first.
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Missed By A Dollar tries to sell itself as a worthy Lupin III epic adventure, but it falls well short, and it's not hard to see why--the story is awful. It has no originality, no plot twists, no creativity, and basically no entertainment value at all. It's so bad that even the film's excellent animation and soundtrack, along with an occasionally amusing action scene, can't come close to salvaging it. Other issues include weak villains, bland supporting characters, and tedious action scenes, though the action is still the high point.
Overall, missed by a dollar is boring, plain and simple. Whatever the director set out to achieve in this film, Missed by a Dollar misses the mark by a very wide margin.
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Okay, you gotta give me a little credit on the plot description. I took quite possibly the lamest, most half-assed attempt at a story in the Lupin franchise and actually tried to make it seem as if it was a worthy epic Lupin adventure film. The movie tries to do the same, but it falls well short, and it's not hard to see why. Simply put, this story is awful. It has no originality, no plot twists, no creativity, and basically no entertainment value at all. It's so bad that even the film's excellent animation and soundtrack, along with an occasionally amusing action scene, can't come close to salvaging it.
Let me give you an honest description of what the story is really about. Lupin, Cynthia, and their companions are after some un-named ring so they can use it to find some un-named brooch because supposedly it grants people special powers. I'm not kidding, that's really it. And they don't even bother to expand on that concept. Who made the brooch? Where did it come from? What powers does it actually grant? No explanation at all. It's implied that it grants the user great luck, but it's hard to be sure, especially seeing as Lupin already has plenty of that. It also fails to explain why most of the dictators who had the ring ended up getting overthrown and/or killed in the end. I guess I gotta give points for consistency--rather than merely glossing over parts of the story, this film goes the distance and explains almost nothing at all.
So what could possibly make a really boring and uncreative plot even worse? How about some really boring locations? While most Lupin films take place in some of the world's most famous and historically significant places, this one has New York and an un-named island where Lupin carries out his operations in an auction house, a major bank's corporate HQ (admittedly this one is a okay), a hotel, a hospital, and a warehouse, not counting a few car chase scenes. I think it's safe to say when one thinks of most of them, the word "epic" does not come to mind. And if that wasn't bad enough, they had to top it off by having Lupin outwitting his opponents with the same ruse in almost every confrontation: His ability to disguise himself as anyone he wants at any time in any setting. I'm serious; other than shooting people and driving cars, that's basically all he does here. Occasionally we get to see some of his other high tech gadgets, but for the most part it's just disguises and shooting.
Now for the good. There were two things I really liked about this film. One is the excellent animation. The vehicles, buildings, and weapons are all very well drawn and highly detailed. As someone who has handled and used a fair share of guns in real life, I was pleased to see guns so detailed I could actually recognize the specific make and model, complete with the caliber engravings on the barrels just like in real life. Especially Lupin's classic Walther P-38. Another thing I liked was that Lupin's teammates, Jigen, Fujiko, and Goemon all have major roles in the story. They don't just randomly show up when Lupin needs them or tag along for the ride. They're major participants in the show the whole way through.
Sadly, the other characters in the film don't get treated anywhere near as well. Once again, Inspector Zenigata is relegated to minor comic relief status, as all he does is make a few pathetic attempts to catch Lupin, which fail miserably. I've had to say this in just about every Lupin review, and I'm really getting tired of it. So far I've only seen two Lupin films where he gets an important role in the plot (Castle of Cagliostro and Secret of the Twilight Gemini), and they're the best Lupin movies I've seen by far. I don't think that's a coincidence. The final extra character is a night club singer named Sandy who is Lupin's sort of love interest for some reason. Who is she? How did she get involved with him? Why does he care about her so much? Don't bother, at this point it's clear getting any sort of explanation about anything is simply too much to ask.
Neither one of the main villains is particularly interesting either. Cynthia is just a typical anime greedy corporate boss who loves to screw up the world for the sake of profit. She is also woefully incompetent for a bank president, getting easily manipulated and falling for every one of Lupin's tricks. As for Nabikov, he's just a typical evil psycho killer. Not much to say about him either.
As for the action scenes, they barely make the cut above mediocre. Some of the chase scenes are mildly exciting, but the shootouts and fairly bland and un-suspenseful. The best scene in the film by far is when Lupin's team breaks into World Bank headquarters. That's very stylish, high tech, and creative, reminding me a lot of the CIA break-in scene in the Mission Impossible movie. But, unfortunately, it takes place at the beginning of the film, and none of the other events come close to being as entertaining. Then there are some parts that are downright stupid, such as a scene where Lupin thwarts an assassin by flipping a coin between the hammer and the frame of her revolver, jamming the gun by preventing the hammer from striking the firing pin. It was a cool trick, but why can't she just take the coin out with her fingers? It would have taken roughly three seconds at most to do so, but instead she just stands there and watches Lupin casually walk away.
Overall, missed by a dollar is boring, plain and simple. With a terrible story, bland support characters, and tedious action scenes, it seems like the whole thing just never gets off the ground. Whatever the director set out to achieve in this film, Missed by a Dollar misses the mark by a very wide margin.
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Obviously similar to just about every other Lupin III movie, at least to some degree, though many are better; as a fairly straightforward caper plot, an easy recommendation would be Secret of Twilight Gemini.
Notes and Trivia
Missed By A Dollar is the Y2K entry in a long-running (and still ongoing) series of annual made-for-TV specials in the Lupin III franchise.
This is one of the few Lupin III films in which a character refers to events in a prior movie. While in a drunken stupor, Inspector Zenigata tells other people in a bar about his previous attempt to catch Lupin using his "Lupin catcher." This event occured in the film "Dragon of Doom." A very fitting reference since both films are similar in terms of quality (or lack of it).
US DVD Review
Funimation's DVD contains character bios and previews, along with chapter selection, but that's about it.
Notes on the objectionable content for parents.
Violence: 2 - Some bloody death scene, but not particularly graphic
Nudity: 1 - No actual nudity in this one, a rarity for a Lupin film--just some skimpy outfits for Fujiko (what else is new?).
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Some flirting, little more.
Language: 0 - Nothing