Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Fortune and glory, kid.

With "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," Steven Spielberg made an unyielding, uncontrollable, action adventure flick that never slows down for a second. It isn't a simple retread of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and that's what makes it so appealing.

1935. Shanghai. The film opens with a dazzling introduction - an elaborate musical number in a nightclub. Indiana Jones is there, negotiating a deal over some priceless artifacts with Chinese gangster Lao Che (Roy Chiao). As you might imagine, the deal goes sour and Dr. Jones is forced to jump out a high-rise window, taking a gorgeous nightclub singer (Kate Capshaw) along for the ride.

After falling through and bouncing off a series of canvas awnings, Indiana and his love interest land in a waiting car driven by Indy's sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan). Short Round steps on the gas and takes them to an airstrip, where they steal Lao Che's plane and make a daring escape.

This sets off a series of spectacular adventures: A flight over the Himalayas, a daring escape from a crashing plane, a sled ride from hell down a mountain side and a bout with some unforgiving river rapids. Upon besting the river and reaching dry land, our adventurers happen upon an Indian village where an elder begs Indiana to find and return the village's precious stone, which was snatched up along with all of the village's children.

The thing I love the most about "The Temple of Doom" is that it isn't a simple retread of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." It's actually a complete departure. The film is technically a prequel, and is in no way connected to the story of the Ark of the Covenant. While the artifact in question, those precious Sankara stones, isn't as compelling as Indy's other, more biblical relics, "Temple of Doom" more than makes up for it with breathtaking action sequences.

After leaving the village, our heroes set out on a journey through Indian jungle on elephants where they encounter vampire bats and all matter of creatures. Their destination is Pinkot Palace, where the village believes their children have been taken.

Turns out the palace holds a deep, dark secret. It seems the Thugee cult has taken up residence in the bowels of the palace and have transformed the place into a literal temple of doom - a place where hell resides. After infiltrating the impenetrable fortress, Indiana witnesses the village's children working on chain gangs, while a brainwashed maharajah keeps them in slavery by using the Sankara stones for sinister purposes - oh and don't forget voodoo, an always welcomed addition to any cult activity.

Child slavery is only the half of it - human sacrifices and other ancient rituals are performed. Those chosen for sacrifice have the distinct pleasure of being lowered into a subterranean volcano to burn alive, only before having their heart ripped out of their chest by the Thugee's leader, Mola Ram (Amrish Puri).

Deep in the darkest pits of the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones must somehow protect his friends, free the village children from slavery and defeat the Thugee cult, all the while trying to get the precious Sankara stones. It's one astounding action sequence after another as Indy and the gang ride a cavernous rollercoaster courtesy of an out-of-control mine cart.

General consensus places "Temple of Doom" at the bottom of the Indiana Jones trilogy, but I've got to be honest with you when I say I love it. It has its share of problems and annoyances, mainly Kate Capshaw's shrill-voiced Willie Scott character, but I still find it highly entertaining.

By Adam Frazier


Reviewed by: adam
4 Comment(s)
Shea said...
I liked this movie a lot better later in life. I always hated the stupid raft out of plane scene but always loved the opening chase for the diamond.

I think I liked the human sacrificing and the dark tones that this film took the most.

This is probably the one I have seen the least.

Raiders is my favorite.

I love hearing Ford talk about all the physical trials he put his body through on this one. I think he says this is the hardest he has ever been pushed in a movie before.
I was got done re-watching this last weekend, and I maintain it's the weakest of the then trilogy. By far. It has its moments, to be sure, but in the end is just so much campier than Raiders, and is clearly the cousin to Crystal Skull (think of the "humor" when Willie is making her way around their jungle camp being frightened by various critters or the groan-inducing dinner sequence with the parade of "icky ethnic" foods).

I, too, like the darker elements of the story, but they really make for a strange dichotomy when mixed with the slapstick humor and bickering that Willie brings, along with the kid appeal that Short Round brings. Really makes the film uneven and seems as though the filmmakers weren't sure of who their audience was. I'd rather they had picked one or the other.

3 stars in my book.
Shea said...
HERE HERE! Well put Fletch...
Adam said...
I guess I see Indiana Jones through a different set of eyes. I think this is a more defining film for the whole spirit of Indiana Jones. It's campy and fun and full of humor and action, and it also had the dark, mysterious nature to it that was kind of spooky.

I suppose the things everyone dislikes about it is exactly what I do like about it, which explains why I wasn't disappointed with Crystal Skull. I enjoy the campiness - to me that's what really defines Indy.

Also, it's basically a remake of "Gunga Din" - which I haven't seen, but would be very interested in checking out.