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