US Release Date: 05-23-1984
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
- Harrison Ford, as
- Indiana Jones
- Kate Capshaw, as
- Willie Scott
- Amrish Puri, as
- Mola Ram
- Jonathan Ke Quan, as
- Short Round
- Roshan Seth, as
- Chattar Lal
- Philip Stone as
- Captain Blumburtt
Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom is easily the weakest installment in the Indiana Jones trilogy. It puts Jones on a holier than though pedestal and surrounds him with idiots. The plot is awkward, even when fast paced.
The movie starts out great. In fact, the first part of the movie is the best part of the movie. Harrison Ford walks into a Chinese nightclub dressed like Rick from Casablanca. He haggles with some Chinese gangsters and pandemonium ensues as everyone, including the second rate singer, Kate Capshaw, scurry around the room looking for an antidote and a diamond. They end up jumping out of a window into a car driven by a 12 year old named Short Round. They get into a plane and then bail out into an inflatable lifeboat and go down river. It is a great opening. However, the film goes down hill from there.
The group eventually comes to a village where all the children have been taken away as well as a sacred stone. Jones, along with the singer and Short Round, agree to retrieve the stone. If anything was made clear in Raiders of the Lost Ark, it was that Jones is a self-satisfying person and works best alone. College students are nothing more than a job to him, yet in Temple of Doom he hangs out with a kid and a ditzy blonde. Sure, they are there for comic relief but in Raiders, Jones himself took care of that.
The climax of the movie is bad. It takes place on a rope bridge across an unbelievably high chasm with an alligator filled river below. Can everybody see how this is going to end? Sure, Jones tells Short Round, in Chinese, to hold on to the railing. Short Round then translates 'Hold on lady we go for ride.' Jones cuts the bridge in half and bodies go flying to the ever-hungry carnivores below. The effects here are so fake it is almost an embarrassment to the movie series. But it gets worse. Then Jones plays tug of war with the bag holding the sacred stones. He starts ranting about an offended god. How about ranting about an offended audience. Ironically, Temple of Doom was the movie that prompted the then new PG-13 rating, but now is only enjoyable to those under that age.
There is also the scene that Spielberg claimed to later regret putting in the movie. The one where the still beating heart is pulled out of the man's chest. Spielberg also regretted all the guns in E.T. so he edited them out of the new version. Spielberg is so damn politically correct that I wonder if he can even sleep at night worrying about all the negative images he puts in his 'family' films? 'Kate, I can't sleep. I am worried that A.I. might offend future robots.'
Okay, this is Indiana Jones and the pace is great. Raiders was personal. It was Jones after a relic. It was a smooth adventure story. Temple of Doom is Jones getting a relic, saving a village as well as a bunch of children, romancing this two-bit blonde and channeling an ancient deity.
At least Spielberg and George Lucas returned to better form in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
This is the weakest in the series, but I think your most accurate line Eric, is "Temple of Doom was the movie that prompted the then new PG-13 rating, but now is only enjoyable to those under that age." The thing about this movie is that it is a kid's movie. Both the first and the third, while enjoyed by kids, were both more mature films. This one however, is quite clearly aimed at kids and it suffers for it, despite having a fast pace and some set pieces that still stand up fairly well today.
It had been over ten years since I'd seen this movie, and out of the trilogy, this is definitely the one I'd seen the least number of times. I always remembered Short Round being the most annoying thing about it, but I was wrong. He's not so horrible. His character only goes over the top when at the end he starts fighting grown men and winning when they're escaping from the mine.
No, the most annoying thing about this movie is Willie Scott, the singer as played by Kate Capshaw. Eric, you mention the lack of chemistry between Ford and Capshaw. Since she and Spielberg were starting the romance that would lead to their eventual marriage, maybe Ford felt weird showing passion toward her in front of his friend. Or, more likely perhaps, she's just a really bad actress.
Some character points about Jones have been fairly inconsistent throughout the series. For instance, at the end of this movie, Jones says about returning the Shankara stone to its people that he didn't keep it because, "...they'd just put it in a museum where it would be just another rock collecting dust." He also goes on about fortune and glory several times in this movie. Yet, in the third movie, his mantra is consistently, "That belongs in a museum!". Also, in the beginning of the first movie, Jones scoffs at the idea that the Ark of the Covenant might contain any special powers, saying, "I don't believe in magic, a lot of superstitious hocus pocus." Given the events of this movie (which take place before the events of the first), shouldn't he at least be open to the idea?
Despite all the problems with this movie, it is still an Indiana Jones movie. And Indiana Jones is still one of the greatest film characters of all time. Even in this installment, I get that chill that starts at my neck and runs all the way back down to my childhood, when I hear the strands of that theme music. It's just too bad that this time around, Lucas and Spielberg chose to dumb down the franchise. They forgot the rule about movie making that says, kids will watch and enjoy movies made for adults, but very seldom does it work the other way around.
Harrison Ford as the title character in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Sure this installment is more of a kid’s movie than Raiders of the Lost Ark but I think you are both a bit hard on it. It is a fun, fast-paced, colorful action adventure that pays homage to many films of the past. The element of real danger is missing and Kate Capshaw’s Willie Scott is annoying but I enjoyed the character of Short Round and his camaraderie with Jones, “Hey, lady! You call him Dr. Jones!”
It starts with Willie Scott singing Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” as Indiana makes like Rick in Casablanca at a nightclub called Club Obi Wan. From there the movie borrows in quick succession from Lost Horizon (the hijacked airplane that crashes in the mountains) to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (a village where all of the children have been stolen away to be slaves in some mines) to Gunga Din (an ancient evil religious cult that performs human sacrifices is revived).
The pace never lets up and though the action gets a bit cartoonish at times it never completely jumps the shark. Ford and Capshaw have no chemistry together. Although Ford tries his best, especially in the scene where he kisses her and tells her he has years of experience in the field studying female sexuality.
Some of the humor works. The disgusting meal that ends with chilled monkey brains is one example. But at other times the movie fails to be funny, especially in any of the scenes where Willie Scott complains about anything, which is nearly all of her scenes.
Short Round, on the other hand, manages to inject real emotion into the proceedings. Most notably in the scene where Indiana Jones is forced to drink some bloody potion that turns him into a mindless slave. Short Round tells him, “Indy, I love you.” Then he burns him with his torch and plaintively begs, “Wake up, Indy! You're my best friend! Wake up, Indy!”
Harrison Ford is once again perfect as Indiana Jones. At 41 he was still boyishly handsome with a lean physique. His cocksure grin, smart-ass remarks and ever present bull whip complete the picture. It is easy to believe that these events preceded the events in Raiders. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom may be the worst movie in the franchise but it still offers plenty of entertainment.
Photos © Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd. (1984)