Friday 10 July 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger

The Super Sentai Versus Series films are back for another year, and once again it’s triple the fun as (technically) three teams get together for a further instalment of crossover goodness. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger brings together the latest dinosaur team with the police and thieves dynamic of the previous series, checking in how things may have changed since its conclusion. Only recently hitting home video but released theatrically all the way back in February, the film was part of a “Super Sentai Movie Party” double bill alongside Mashin Sentai Kiramager Episode ZERO.

The last GanglerKleon joins the Ganglers

Kleon’s chance encounter with one of the last remaining Ganglers spells trouble for the Kyurangers as the criminal kaijin captures the Kishiryu in his bid for revenge. With six of the guardian dinosaurs locked within his safes and a newly created Minosaur at his side, Ganima Noshiagalda seems almost unstoppable.

With time running out, the Ryusoulgers work together with Noël to save their friends. However this mission also brings them into contact with the Global Special Police Organisation, as well the phantom thieves they butted heads with - the Lupinrangers!

Lupinrangers return!The Patrangers join the fight

There are surely many fans out there that were hoping that a Ryusoulger versus movie would be another dinosaur Sentai celebration in a similar vein to Kyoryuger vs Go-Busters. Given how popular the dinosaur Sentai are there certainly would have been scope, but unfortunately this is not the case here. However for fans of Lupinranger vs Patranger it’s hard to see this as a bad thing. The Go-Busters were completely shafted in their movie, so arguably themed team ups lend themselves much better to projects where it only has to feature those that feature within the actual team. 55 minutes isn’t a lot of time to cover three current teams and then include a further three veteran ones after all.

The sign of a really good crossover isn't just the ability to bring out the strengths in all the parties involved, but being able to make one appreciate a team even if you felt their series may have fallen a bit short. It's worth prefacing this review with a reminder that I wasn't particularly a fan of Ryusoulger or Lupinranger vs Patranger. I am however, a fan of Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger. With lead writer Junko Komura returning both the Lupinrangers and Patrangers were in the right hands to ensure their post-series outing was true to character, and alongside Naruhisa Arakawa both writers also show a good handling of the Ryusoulgers and how they should interact with their predecessors. It's a film that keeps things relatively simple, but knows that the main draw is the crossover element and capitalises on it at every chance it gets.

As we all know by now the word "versus" is often used extremely with these movies, so what's far more important than seeing the heroes ever come to blows is setting their initial meetings up in a way that makes sense. Lupinranger vs Patranger is an especially good series for this as it presents multiple ways for it to happen, and the film does a great job of making them all ticked off. Some of them are primarily played for laughs – Towa and Banba get arrested by the Patrangers felt like a given because that's an easy set-up for any police tokusatsu, but playing Tsukasa's secret love for cute things and Canalo's ongoing wife hunt into a misunderstood meet cute is simply brilliant. Similarly Noel works perfectly as a bridge between the two series much like how we worked as an arbiter between the Lupinrangers and Patrangers. Then at the core of it all you have the three red rangers – Koh struggling with the loss of Tyramigo, whilst Kairi and Keiichiro balance their duties with their struggles against each other. While some time has passed since the conclusion of the series, the difficulties between the two teams are very much there.

Koh and KairiGetting arrested

Life might be largely unchanged for the Patrangers, but with the Gangler threat gone the Lupinrangers have moved on to the next chapter in their lives. It's only really a glimpse – Kairi is still helping to track down the Lupin Collection, Toma has started a new café and Umika is working hard as an author. With no secret to hide any more their personalities have softened somewhat, but they still possess that aloof attitude to maintain them as loveable rogues. This is especially noticeable with Kairi, who's also matched by a more relaxed Keiichiro. But though the emphasis on development may be squarely on the teams of the preceding series (as it usually is for these films), the Ryusoulgers are hardly the helpless victims in this police procedural. True to their characters in the show itself, the Ryusoulgers never give up in their fight against Ganima despite the losing odds – and it's that persistence that helps bring all three teams together for the end. If there's one thing Ryusoulger did well it was highlight the team element of Super Sentai, and that spirit certainly carries on here.

Even the villain aspect is a perfect fusion of both shows. Altogether the film features both a Kishiryu-powered Gangler and a Gangler-powered Minosaur, and then having Kleon join the Ganglers as an honorary member is an inspired choice – perfectly playing into his place in Ryusoulger as this wildcard agent that just tends to go with the flow. Ganima kidnapping and weaponising the Kishiryu is the perfect progression of the Gangler's Lupin Collection use, both incorporating and advancing the safe gimmick that made the monsters stand out so well. The overall Gangler suit design was some of the strongest monster work Super Sentai has had in recent years and Ganima's chimera (and Zyuohger-esque) look is truly one last hurrah. His more humanoid design is also a nice contrast to his more kaiju-like Minosaur underling, covering the more traditional foe-of-the-week the Ryusoulgers face in their own series. It's also nice to see a stage show monster re-tooled for an onscreen appearance, especially for fans outside of Japan who rarely get to fully experience some of the cooler things the stage show productions have to offer.

A fateful meetingReds are better in threes

The final battle is another area where the film really plays to the strengths of all three teams, and more importantly keeps things interesting by using the crossover element to its full potential. The teams are split down into smaller groupings to keep things dynamic, and feature some great weapon-swapping moments that aren't featured nearly enough in these films. Moments like seeing Super Lupin Blue or Super Patren #2 have a similar impact, given that they didn't have the chance to happen in the series itself. A pyrotechnic-laden battle featuring multiple Sentai teams is something that's always going to come out tops when it comes to spectacle, but it's the clever moments like these that make certain ones stand out and remain memorable. Mecha fans might be disappointed to see the usually-obligatory battle completely omitted here, but the fact these films have begun to rely on them less certainly isn't a bad thing – after all if you aren't really pushing a specific toy, then why adhere to formula?

There is one element to the film that works to both its favour and disadvantage though. In order to tell as tight a story as possible it keeps the cast as small as it possibly can – so much so that as far as the heroes are concerned it's only really the teams themselves that are directly involved. Oto and Jim Carter make very brief appearances, but there's no Hilltop, Kogure, Naohisa, Ui or even the loved ones each respective Lupinranger fought to save. Kleon is the only returning villain from any of the three shows, which is especially curious when Lupinranger vs Patranger left things with its main villain very much alive (albeit in chains). While admittedly the film's tight story is largely due to it keeping its focus, it feels strange to forgo an element as significant as Dogranio in what will effectively be the last piece in the LuPat story. While the fact the series left him in captivity rather than simply killing him was both a great departure from the norm AND a fitting end for the series, having him pop up somewhere (maybe taunting the Patrangers as they visit him in prison to learn more about Ganima?) would have really brought proper closure to the series. It's nice to see how the heroes have grown and/or moved on in this epilogue of sorts, but for many the villains and supporting characters are just as important to these shows as the rangers themselves.

Swapping weaponsSuper Lupin Yellow

Though its release alongside Kiramager Episode ZERO negated the need for a cameo within the film itself, Toei instead had a different kind of fun with how they introduced the next Super Sentai team. The Kiramagers appear alongside the three starring teams during the end to join in with the Ryusoulger end theme dance, and are also joined by the stars of the long-running Pretty Cure franchise. It might only be a fun little extra that has no bearing on the film itself, but it’s always great to see these franchises come together as they don’t do it nearly enough. Given how wonderfully infectious “Que Bom! Ryusoulger” is, you can’t help but love it.

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger is another solid entry for the Versus Series - sticking to the strengths of both series and playing them off each other in ways that ensure all three teams get their time to shine. While it may lack some of the wider elements/supporting cast of both shows, the tight focus works to its advantage and prevents the film from ever meandering. Crossover films can often bring out the best in the even the weakest shows, with this one just another great example of why they should be considered so important to Super Sentai. No matter what your feelings on Ryusoulger or Lupinranger vs Patranger are, this film is well worth a check-in.


M said...

Who subbed the movie? Nice review by the way.

rogerph2015 said...

TripleS Fansubs is the one who subbed this movie. This is very unfortunate for the ZyuRanger, AbaRanger and Kyoryuger fans because the characters from the 1992, 2003 and 2013 Dinosaur Super Series didn't return for this movie. Although Toei did tried their best to negotiate with the said actors and actresses of ZyuRanger, AbaRanger and Kyoryuger, it came up empty-handed because the latter had refused to cooperate with Toei and the younger actors and actresses due to their retirement from the Japanese Entertainment Industry, schedule conflicts, having commitments and/or due to their busy lives. This is so frustrating! How did Keiichirou Asaka/Patren 1gou did reappear in that movie? I thought he was disappeared after his Serious Team was defeated by Yamato Kazakiri/Zyuoh Eagle of the Oddball Team in the Super Sentai Strongest Battle last year (2019). Does that mean that all of the Super Sentai Teams, who were Rita's victims in the S.S.S.B., will reappear in the 45th Anniversary of the Super Sentai Series this 2021 after Mashin Sentai Kiramager? After all, it was Rita's fault who made the Super Sentai Teams divided, fighting against each other and once defeated, they disappeared and were never heard from again...or are they? The Dinosaur Super Sentai Teams (ZyuRanger, AbaRangr and Kyoryuger) didn't appeared in the S.S.S.B. last year either. What was the fate of them? We'll find out soon! As for the Dinosaur, Thief/Criminal and Police Sentai team-up movie, it would've been grander if the 3 other Dinosaur Super Sentai Teams should've been showed up, but as for me, unfortunately, this is way worse than Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Vs. Go-Busters The Great Dinosaur Battle! Farewell, Our Eternal Friends! of 2014 because I wanna see those other teams so badly! Would've been nice to see Daizyujin, Abarenoh and Kyoryuzin in action, but they didn't appeared either. Geki/TyrannoRanger, Ryouga Hakua/AbaRed and Daigo "King" Kiryu/KyoryuRed! Where are you? My grade: 1/10

Oar said...

The text in the middle section of this page is really oddly formatted, by the way!

I just saw this special and it was a blast. Every little interaction was surprisingly fun to see. It might not have provided any closure for lupin vs pat's various plot threads, but it was nice to see them all for one last adventure, alongside the ryusoulgers who were pretty neat and funny in this too.

Alex said...

All fixed, thanks for letting me know!

Stephen Cassat said...

I gotta say this movie was awesome. During Ryusoulger, I felt that some parts were rushed, but I still enjoyed the show. Despite LuPat being a bit of a disappointment, they nailed them in this movie. Ryusoulger vs LuPat was a great film/. While I still think Abaranger is the strongest Dino Sentai in terms of quality, Ryusoulger is pretty close behind.