The Lupin III Adventures: The Hemingway Papers (1990)

--review/summary by Paula O'Keefe 2005

A city is being bombed and blasted by helicopter fire; fires blaze everywhere; in the chaos Jigen faces down a gunman who says he's looking for a skilled mercenary, not just an assassin. They fire at each other and both shots are so accurate that the bullets strike each other point-on. You want another round?--asks Jigen. You've got the job, gasps the guy. Jigen grins.

Goemon is sitting on a sea cliff in meditation as flocks of crows swirl around him. An orange-robed monk approaches and notes that he's been there a long time; are you seeking deep spiritual enlightenment? he asks. Goemon says that he's burdened with worry; he has cut too many insignificant things; he can't separate his ego from himself and that's causing his suffering. The monk asks to see his sword, which he recognizes; it blazes with light as he raises it. It's Zantetsuken, he says, the devilish sword that can cut through anything. A falling crow feather slices itself in half by just sliding against the blade. --Hai, says Goemon quietly. The monk sheathes the blade. Just as life comes to its end, there is no perfection in this world, he says. Goemon's eyes widen: Are you saying there is something Zantetsuken cannot cut? Indeed, says the monk, and I think you need to challenge that something as your disciplinary training. Goemon retrieves the sword and takes off at a run. That something--what can it possibly be? --he asks himself as he leaps off the cliff.

A chopper delivers two men to the estate of arms dealer Marcess. They talk business. Fujiko is his secretary and lap pet, Lupin's mole; his mercenary hireling and bodyguard is a gold-fanged tough called Mash.

Lupin and an informer are discussing the legend of Hemingway's murder: both are posing as workmen cleaning the stained glass of the famous Gaudi church. It's said that papers were stolen by the murderer, namely the draft of a novel, never published, that tells the location of a lost treasure. The manuscript is kept in an unbreakable box, says the spy, and the key to that box is in the possession of a German aristocrat. Lupin is so involved in listening that he falls off the scaffolding and breaks a leg; we next see him riding a motorcycle in a leg cast. He's buzzed by a plane being flown by Mash, who grins at him, apparently aware that they're both headed for the German's estate. Mash gets there first and steals the key.

We catch up with Lupin on a helicopter passing by Colcata Island. He says he's getting off here, but the crew insists he can't; the island is totally off limits. Lupin takes a parachute and leaves anyway. He's immediately picked up by a patrol, suspicious that he's the assassin Sir Consano hired. They search him and find his gun/camera, he almost tricks them into thinking it a toy, but not quite. He takes to his heels; a jeep marked "Maria's Bar", driven by a pretty blonde, gives him a lift. Why are President Carlos' men chasing him if he's not with Consano? she asks. He helps her unload her goods and asks if there's a hotel in town, or maybe he can just stay at her bar? She chases him out; he sees Consano's gang roar past on motorbikes and is amazed to see Jigen among them (looking damn cool on his chopper =). He whistles; Jigen hears him and swerves out of the formation into a side alley, where he tells Lupin only that he'll explain everything later.

Consano and Carlos meet to bargain: each unveils his secret weapon: Consano's is Jigen and Carlos' is, of course, Goemon. Astonished to be facing each other, they can only think of one thing to do, which is to wrestle and knock each other out. Lupin, spying on the scene, collapses in giggles...

Zenigata is scolded for his high expenses and told he must drop his flights to economy class (despite the open adoration of his staff). Grumbling to himself on the sidewalk, he spots Fuji in her limo and gives chase, though not sure whether to ask her for a clue to Lupin's whereabouts or a loan =).

Marcess, the arms dealer, shows Fujiko his amazing art collection and proposes marriage. She demurs.

Lupin and Jigen shoot pool at Maria's Bar and chat. Goemon's sitting at the bar putting away a whole flask of sake' and not speaking to them. Jigen says he's here to kill someone who's "forgotten the code of honor", none other than Mash, and he's too busy for Lupin's project. Goemon likewise says he's in training and can't join Lupin. Lupin then plays his aces, showing them photos of Mash (who Jigen didn't know was with Marcess) and of the unbreakable golden box that contains the Hemingway manuscript (which Goemon has learned is the "Pandora's box" his blade can't cut). They both pounce. Lupin thinks he has them hooked and gleefully buys many rounds of booze (both bourbon and sake'), expecting to sit down and talk strategy: but no: revenge and training win, and they both walk out on him.

President Carlos realizes with horror that Consano has teamed up with "merchant of death" Marcess and acquired ten top-of-the-line new tanks, and that because of him Crazy Mash, high-class assassin feared even by the Mafia, is in on it as well. Jigen and Mash confront and acknowledge each other.

Maria loads her rifle, drives into the mountains and draws a bead on Consano from a high vantage point; caught by his guards, she swears she's just hunting wildfowl to add a new dish to her bar's menu, but they don't buy it and she requires rescue by Lupin. It's revealed that Marcess is helping Consano on condition that when he overthrows President Carlos he'll give Marcess the famous Carlos art collection.

Goemon comes into Maria's Bar for some sake. Lupin pounces on him, hoping he's changed his mind, but is brushed off. Jigen arrives, sees Lupin, then says "--thank God, Goemon's here too." His tone stops them both in their tracks. Jigen says that tonight he's going to have it out with Mash and the guy is totally unpredictable, so they should both have a good life. It's plain he's bidding them farewell in case he doesn't survive. ==They of course both instantly volunteer to come along as backup, but no, this is for him to do alone. He gets onto his motorbike and heads off; Goemon can't bear it and chases him on foot. Jigen wheels, turns back, calls out that his farewell gift to Goemon is the whereabouts of that box--which he reveals--and is gone.

At the ambush: Mash gets the drop on Jigen and talks about their past together. He's perfectly cool about having betrayed and killed all their comrades. He has Jigen cornered when Lupin arrives and together they get Mash under control. Lupin takes them to the tank base where they can have a formal shootout, but Marcess' new tanks intervene and Mash beats the tar out of Jigen. Ow.

Goemon follows Jigen's directions to the vault of the golden box, where he finds Lupin looking for it as well. Just as predicted, Zantetsuken cannot cut it and poor Goemon sits too stunned to move as the burglar alarms blare. Lupin is forced to get away without him.

Lupin sits in Maria's Bar bemoaning their failure: who would ever have imagined all three of them would strike out? He suggests settling down with her, but Consano's troops break in and arrest her, charging her with being a surviving member of the revolutionary cadre Sasori (Scorpion). Maria cues Lupin how to blow up the bar (a sequence of keys on the jukebox) and they escape in the chaos. She tells Lupin her story. Her brother was Sasori's leader; all but she were killed seven years ago. She hates not only Carlos and Consano but all the hordes of treasure seekers who have ruined the island searching for the Hemingway loot.

Carlos discusses how he plans to execute Goemon while Lupin and Fujiko (where'd she come from?) coolly steal the gold box. Marcess of course has the key to the box, which Mash stole for him back in paragraph four. Having been working for Marcess, Fuji can supply his fingerprints (taken off a dress of hers **koff**) and with those for his custom lock, and a disguise, Lupin also secures the key. Off they run in Fuji's Lamborghini with Mash's chopper in hot pursuit. While Fuji drives, Lupin opens the box and gets photos of the entire Hemingway manuscript, page by page, with his tie-pin camera. Alas, Marcess manages to get back the box and key, and then tries to deal with Consano, saying he'll take it all to Carlos otherwise. But Mash has made a new deal and is now working for Consano: he kills Marcess and Carlos launches an all-out attack.

Consano and Carlos dicker: they'll settle it by facing Jigen and Goemon off against each other again. They fight on a bridge slung over a many-stories-deep underground base. Goemon wins by cutting the bridge and riding it down to the lower levels, then running off, unconscious Jigen (knocked cold in the bridge's collapse) slung over his shoulder. Maria commandeers a building crane and gives them a lift out of the silo; meet up with L&F and all celebrate with wine and dinner at Maria's. Lupin reveals his photos of the manuscript (when/where he had a chance to get these developed I have no idea) and they prepare to track down the treasure.

Carlos and Consano open the box...they too prepare to follow the manuscript's directions to the loot.

The treasure is a cave of pure, glittering U-232. Lupin et al sensibly try to leave, but the baddies are there with cannons and open fire. After some exchanges of gunfire, the cannonfire opens a chasm and floods the valley. Troops are all swept away save one unit led by Mash. Jigen and Mash finally have their shootout and Mash dies in the uranium cave. Lupin and Maria have an emotional parting. Goemon nearly exhausts himself trying to bash the gold box open with Zantetsuken; he's on the verge of giving up, gives a last forlorn tap and the thing just falls in half. He's last seen looking the picture of contentment, sitting in the back of the plane as all leave the island with the conquered box hugged in his lap.

End credits.

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