Lupin III: The First (2019)

Film and Plot Synopsis

When Professor Bresson, touted to be this century’s most established archaeologist passes away, he leaves behind the Bresson Diary, rumored to hold clues to the treasures of a lost civilization. When elusive Lupin III, grandson of the famous French thief, learns of this, he decides to snatch the sought-after diary to claim the lost treasures for himself and to redeem his grandfather’s name, who allegedly was not able to solve the Bresson diary… Befriending a young girl named Laetitia, who seems to also be after the diary, Lupin must outwit Professor Lambert and his shadowy secret society to solve the great mystery of Bresson Diary to prove to the world that he is the greatest thief in the world!

‘Lupin III: The First’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Lupin III: The First (2019)Our film begins in Nazi-occupied France. We meet an old archaeologist named Professor Bresson (Kazuaki Ito/Marc Thompson) as he gives his ornately-locked diary to his family. He also hands over a separate amulet that contains a key for its lock. The diary is a guide to a mythical treasure called the Eclipse, which the Nazi think tank, Ahnenerbe, is after.

The arriving Nazis immediately kills Bresson as his family escapes. However, Ahnenerbe’s Professor Lambert (Kōtarō Yoshida/David Brimmer) chases after them. That ensuing chase results in a huge crash which kills Bresson’s family except for his infant granddaughter. Lambert suffers a broken ankle, but manages to steal the amulet out of the baby’s hands. He leaves her in the car with her dead parents and drives off. The diary, which the family tossed out the car’s window during the chase, sits lost in the forest.

Fast forward some years, and we’re now in Paris circa 1960. The diary is the main attraction for a memorial exhibition in Bresson’s honor. Arsène Lupin III (Kanichi Kurita/Tony Oliver) sneaks in to steal the book his famous grandfather unsuccessfully attempted to steal years ago. However, a young woman named Laetitia (Suzu Hirose/Laurie Hymes), disguised as a security guard, takes it first. Lupin follows her to a rooftop to steal it back, but professional burglar, Fujiko Mine (Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff) steals it from them instead.

Lupin can not take chase as Inspector Zenigata (Kōichi Yamadera/Doug Erholtz) of Interpol arrives with his army of men to arrest Lupin. Minutes later, Lupin’s partners in crime, Daisuke Jigen (Kiyoshi Kobayashi/Richard Epcar) and Goemon Ishikawa XIII (Daisuke Namikawa/Lex Lang) spring him from the police van as Zenigata and his men take him to prison.

Now free, Lupin tracks down Laetitia at her home using a homing device he placed on her shoe while talking to her on the rooftop. He learns she’s no thief, but a prospective archeology student whose grandfather ordered her to steal the book. She even has a thesis she wrote for an application to Boston University, which she’d do anything to get admitted into (and the reason she took the book).

Lupin spots a diagram for the diary’s amulet that Lambert stole from that baby years ago in her apartment. It’s identical to one he owns; the one Lupin’s grandfather presumedly stole and gave to him. Laetitia goes to the bathroom to contact her adoptive grandfather who we learn is actually an aged Lambert. He orders her to deliver Lupin and the amulet to him in order to fulfill her part of a deal he has with her; one where he will send her to Boston University to study archeology if she helps him find and unlock that diary.

Meanwhile, Fujiko delivers the diary to the Ahnenerbe agents, and we learn that Lambert is among them. The group’s leader, Gerard (Tatsuya Fujiwara/Paul Guyet), finds a tracking device on the case containing the diary. Sensing a double cross, he orders his men to detain Fujiko.

As this goes on, Laetitia brings Lupin to Lambert’s hideout which is a customized transport plane in the middle of an unnamed ocean. The two covertly retrieve the book along with the second amulet. With all the parts he needs to open the lock, Lupin figures out the secret eight-lettered word to turn off its boobytrap and open the diary.

The two learn that the Eclipse is not a treasure, but a super powerful device from a highly advanced but lost civilization hidden among the ruins of Teotihuacan, Mexico. However, Lupin knows that Laetitia has led him into a trap that Lambert set for him so that the two could open the diary. Gerard’s there with Lambert and guns; lots of guns. Lupin surrenders to them, and they take him to the cargo hold in chains.

Fujiko’s tied up there too, and she uses Lupin’s arrival as a diversion to flirt with a guard, knock him out, and escape on her own in a small plane. Lupin then frees himself and sneaks back into the plane where he eavesdrops on Gerard and Lambert. He learns the men want the Eclipse so they can give it to Adolf Hitler (Mitsuru Takakuwa/River Kanoff), who reportedly faked his death and escaped to Brazil during Berlin’s defeat. With his power restored, the men can then resurrect the Third Reich.

Laetitia, who was snooping on the two men as well, walks in on them to confront her grandfather. They inject her with a knockout serum before Gerard orders Lambert to kill the girl, but he can’t. So Gerard tosses her out of the plane without a parachute.

Lupin steals the diary and the amulets again, and then jumps out of the plane after her (without a parachute as well). Laetitia comes to as Lupin catches up to her. All seems lost for the two until Fujiko zooms in on her plane to save them. However, Lambert and his men have chased after them in their plane and they shoot Fujiko out of the sky. As it’s about to crash, Jigen and Goemon drive up in a car and save the three. However, the Nazis destroy the car as well.

Now stranded in the middle of the desert, Lupin calls Zenigata who immediately arrives with a small army to arrest him. However, Lupin’s gang steals his Interpol helicopter first. Zenigata manages to get back on board though, and when he learns of Gerard and Lambert’s plans, he agrees to use his resources to capture the new villains.

During a stopover on an oil rig, Lupin tells Laetitia that he believes she’s actually Bresson’s granddaughter and Lambert only adopted her to get his hands on the diary… and eventually the Eclipse. He also figures that his grandfather helped Bresson try to find the Eclipse and subsequently lock the diary in its special casing. He deduced this all based on the lupine flower crest (which is his family’s crest) on the diary’s cover.

Elsewhere, Gerard and Lambert find the Eclipse’s hiding place, but without the diary, they can not get past the first boobytrap. They take off in the plane to find Lupin’s last known whereabouts to take back that diary.

Lupin’s group watches them fly off before heading in themselves. They are able to make it through all three of the obstacles. However, as they approach the Eclipse, Gerard, Lambert, and some of their minions show up and capture the thieves. Their plane’s departure was just a ruse to get Laetitia and Lupin to solve the last puzzles for them.

With the diary in their possession again, Lambert and Gerard activate the Eclipse. It carries them and Laetitia up to the surface before they put it in their plane to fly it to Hitler. Lupin’s gang escapes their bindings and tries to stop the Nazis in the Interpol helicopter. They immobilize the plane, but Lambert uses the Eclipse to get it to fly again.

Back in the air, Lambert next uses the Eclipse to create a micro black hole that he thinks destroys the helicopter and Lupin’s team with it. His newfound power now makes him feel invincible. He burns the diary in front of Gerard, and starts to prepare the Eclipse to destroy Berlin so that he may be the one, true führer.

However, Gerard snaps. Only Hitler can be the one, true führer, and the two men argue. When Laetitia takes control of the Eclipse, Gerard shoots at her. Lambert jumps in the way and takes the bullet to the chest for her even though he just spurned the girl. On the radio, Gerard next receives news of Hitler’s location. He takes the Eclipse to him with Laetitia as his prisoner.

When Gerard arrives at the secret Ahnenerbe base, Hitler comes out in his wheelchair with some guards in tow. Gerard takes his führer to the Eclipse so the men may test it. Hitler orders one of his guards to take Laetitia to a holding cell. However once out of their site, she finds that the guard is Jigen in disguise, and that Lupin’s team (along with Interpol) arrived to the base first. Hitler is actually Lupin in disguise.

Back on the Eclipse, Lupin accidentally reveals himself when he gets out of the wheelchair. Gerard attacks him, but Lupin is still able to use the Eclipse to create one final micro black hole inside the Eclipse. It sucks Gerard into it where he immediately dies. Lupin escapes—barely—using one of the gravity devices he stole at the Teotihuacan ruins.

With the day saved and the sun setting, Fujiko speeds out of the Ahnenerbe base in a boat full of anything of value she could steal. Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon start to flee in a boat of their own as Zenigata comes to arrest them in his Interpol boat. Lupin tells Laetitia she can’t come with them as this life isn’t meant for her. He reveals that he stole her thesis in her apartment in Paris, and sent it in to Boston University with an application for admittance, which they accepted. He says he will see her again in five years before the three men speed off to escape Zenigata’s arrest yet again.

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Toho Company released Lupin III: The First on December 6, 2019. Takashi Yamazaki directed the film starring Kanichi Kurita, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, and Daisuke Namikawa.

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