I live near a Tsutaya so I took advantage of that and watched every Lupin movie in no particular order. Here is my personal list ranking the various films of this excellent franchises (titles may be abbreviated).
35. From Russia With Love
34. Napoleon’s Dictionary
33. Moeyo Zantestuken
32. The Last Job
31. The Lost Gold of Babylon
30. The Magician Lives
29. Stolen Lupin
28. Angel Tactics
27. The Italian Game
25-26. vs. Detective Conan (x2)
24. Ai no Da Capo
23. First Contact
22. Green vs. Red
21. Tokyo Crisis
20. Bye Bye Liberty
19. Harimao’s Treasure
18. Kiri no Elusive
17. Drop Dead! Nostradamus
16. Hemmingway Papers
15. Island of Assassins
14. Secret of the Twilight Gemini
13. Princess of the Breeze
12. Alcatraz Connection
11. Blood Seal – Eternal Mermaid
10. Sweet Lost Night
9. Ansatsu Shirei
8. Return the Treasure
7. Fuma Conspiracy
6. $1 Money Wars
5. Dead or Alive
3. Castle of Cagliostro
2. Chikemuri no Ishikawa Goemon
1. Jigen Daisuke no Bohyou
-The best cold opens in the series, in no particular order, are as follows. The simple, clean, cartoony heist at the beginning of Castle of Cagliostro, the more intricate infiltration scene in Return the Treasure, Dead or Alive with its “what movie is this, again?” quality for the first few minutes, Seven Days Rhapsody with the epilogue to the main story that stands on its own, and Mamo with the fairly minimalist depiction of a man walking up the steps to the gallows.
-Chikemuri’s best scene isn’t the cold open, but it’s within the first five minutes. The thugs beating up casino cheats makes for some great cathartic violence and sets the tone quite nicely for what the film was trying to do. It quickly lets you know you’re getting the hard-R you came for.
-The obvious best ending of any movie in the series can only be Jigen Daisuke no Bohyou’s. It’s basically celluloid gold from the final shootout onward. You have the rather beautiful bit of one-upsmanship between Lupin and Fujiko where they steal each other’s loot, followed by Lupin and Jigen doing the quintessential gentleman theif thing where they use the book they just spent 90 minutes of film getting their hands on to light some smokes. Then it cuts to revolver fires. Perfection.
-Some of the Dezaki Lupins are pretty good, but he’s responsible for 2 of the worst, and they absolutely ooze his low-animation/high-action style. Napoleon’s Dictionary is very, very unremarkable and it cheats by having two climaxes in a 90-minute movie. It’s super-lazy, to say the least, and it also skips a golden opportunity to be wacky races. From Russia With Love has a cruddy villain and while the characters remain fun in it, it’s just not appreciably good or creative.
-Lost Gold of Babylon is a plodding movie, but it does open to Manhattan Joke, so one has to give credit there.
-One of the only things that would have made Chikemuri no Ishikawa Goemon any better would be if, in the scene where the gang was vaping in a room with a big pile of stolen casino boat money, they then vaped *with* the big pile of casino boat money.
-Speaking of which, Lupin robs casinos a lot. A casino heist is the opening sequence of at least 3 movies I can remember, possibly more.
-Sweet Lost Night has a silly plot, but there’s lots of fun to be had in the set pieces. The whole first bit where Lupin goes full Memento that culminates in the Fiat riding a rolling boulder down a hill is the peak of it all.
-$1 Money Wars is the last film in the franchise to carry the cel aesthetic, and it’s a nice sendoff to that era. It sort of stretches the entire movie to land the $1 bookend scene but it does land it nicely.
-In contrast, First Contact, the next one chronologically, is a lazy, dull film and its only saving grace is that the whole thing is literally just a lie Lupin made up to impress a journalist.
-Italian Game is a pretty shameless recap episode, but watching it mainly gave me an excuse to rewatch parts of IV, so I can’t complain.
-Inspector Zenigata is the best character in the franchise, hands down. In Eternal Mermaid, he suplexes a hulk. Make the next IIIrd movie Zenigata Kouichi Locked in Irons, please and thank you.