Indiana Jones returns to the big screen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This sequel is actually a prequel, Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936, and this is set in 1935. Indy is on the hunt for a mystical stone, not nearly as exciting as the Ark of the Covenant, but whatever advances the plot does the job. George Lucas wrote and produced the movie and Spielberg directed it. It’s not as good as Raiders, but it’s a satisfying sequel.
The movie starts with a musical number at Club Obi Wan in Shanghai. That’s quite a turnaround from the opening sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones shows up and is wrapping up an exciting adventure that involves a diamond and an antidote to some poison that Indy drinks. We are introduced to an obnoxious American showgirl named Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and Indy’s exploited Asian sidekick Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan). Jonathan Ke Quan is a Vietnamese actor who is playing a Chinese kid because Hollywood is racist and all Asians look alike. Indiana, Willie, and Short Round escape on a plane, but their plane is owned by the criminal they barely escaped from. They end up using a raft as a glorified parachute and find themselves in the main plotline.
After falling thousands and thousands of feet and sliding down a mountain in an inflatable raft, Indy and his pals find themselves in an Indian village. The villagers are in trouble and need Indy’s help. It seems that some assholes from Pankot Palace stole their sacred stone and kidnapped all the kids. The kids seem to be an afterthought, they really want their magic rock back.
Indiana agrees to help them because he’s Indiana Jones and the movie would suck if he didn’t do anything. So he heads to Pankot Palace with Willie and Short Round. They meet the young Maharajah, the king of Pankot Palace and they enjoy a lavish feast, complete with eyeball soup and chilled monkey brains for dessert.
Indy gets attacked by an assassin and decides that something is not quite right in the palace. He goes snooping around and finds a bunch of hidden passageways and tunnels that lead to the Temple of Doom.
Inside the Temple of Doom is a freaky cult of freaky fuckers that believe in child labor, human sacrifice, and ripping beating hearts out of people’s chests. Indy, Willie, and Short Round are all captured by the evil cult. Short Round gets to join all the child slaves, Willie gets to be a human sacrifice, and Indy gets to be converted into a brainwashed cult zombie.
Short Round manages to escape and snaps Indy out of his trance, and he frees Willie, and they celebrate by taking a roller coaster ride in a mine cart. After that fun ride, there’s some drama involving a rickety bridge with hungry crocodiles. Indy, Willie, and Short Round emerge triumphant and return to the village with their magic rock and all the kids. I’m glad the kids are ok, but I’m just so relieved that they got their stupid stone back. Priorities, you know?
This movie is a decent sequel, but it differs from the Indian Jones formula in a few ways. In Raiders of the Lost ark and in The Last Crusade, the story takes you all around the world, it’s a global trek. Temple of Doom constricts you and keeps you focused on one place, the titular Temple of Doom. The ending is very conclusive and is really happy. The other movies end but leave the story open, and they don’t end with a romantic kiss and a bunch of happy kids.
There are some truly memorable moments like the raft-parachute and the mine cart chase… both sequences were cut out of Raiders for timing reasons. The rope bridge sequence, the eyeball soup, beating hearts ripped from living victims, and Short Round… this movie had some great moments of its own.
This isn’t a great sequel. It lost some of the momentum from the first movie, but they get it back in the third. You can tell that they aren’t quite sure what Indiana Jones represents, but they get back on track for The Last Crusade (and ruin everything in Crystal Skulls). This movie has its moments and it’s still required viewing if you want to call yourself a movie buff.
Critically Rated at 12/17