Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Review
By Christopher Null
The second entry in the Indiana Jones series is definitively the "darkest" and worst (George Lucas notes in the DVD supplement material that he was in a bad mood due to his divorce proceedings). But like a bad Star Wars movie (yeah, I'm probably alone in this), Temple of Doom is still plenty of fun and stands up to repeat viewings.
Taking place a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, Doom is the first movie chronologically in the trilogy. That means no Nazis, and unfortunately that means the stakes are at an all-time low. Indy isn't out to save the world this time; he's just saving a small Indian village... and his own ass, of course. There's also no Jewish/Christian mythology to deal with, which makes for an interesting change of pace but lowers the stakes and the intrigue considerably. Instead we have some magic rocks, some enslaved and starving kids, and an ancient cult quietly sacrificing people in an underground pool of lava. Hell, if Indy hadn't stumbled upon the scene, no one would have ever been the wiser.
Anyway, Indy does stumble upon the scene, with two comrades in tow -- Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw, who would become best known as Steven Spielberg's wife), a Shanghai lounge singer, and Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan, who would later become a Goonie), a Chinese street urchin. They escape danger in Shanghai, bail out of a plane over India, wash up at the aforementioned village, and trek to a palace to aid the villagers' plight. Well, looking back this doesn't make a lot of sense (Spielberg and Lucas admit that most of the action sequences were leftover ideas from Raiders... and where'd that big stage come from for the musical opening number?), but roll with it and you'll have a pretty good good time. (The movie is also notable for spawning the PG-13 rating when it was deemed a little to tough for PG-ready kids.)
Quan has all the best lines ("No time for love!") and Capshaw is the most memorable Indy girl, if for no other reason than her extreme prissiness. The special effects are still relatively low-grade here, heavy on miniatures and pneumatic dummies used in the countless people-falling-to-death scenes in the movie. Even the title -- "the Temple of Doom!!!" -- is corny. No one calls that little pit in the basement a Temple of Doom.
Some excellent fight scenes redeem much of the film, and the Indiana Jones character is as unforgettable as ever. Don't dismiss Temple of Doom just because, you know, it's kinda stupid.
This ride's on me.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd May 1984
Box Office Worldwide: $333M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 10
Cast & Crew
Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Kate Capshaw as Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott, Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round, Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal, Philip Stone as Captain Blumburtt, Roy Chiao as Lao Che, David Yip as Wu Han, Ric Young as Kao Kan, Chua Kah Joo as Chen, Rex Ngui as Maitre d', Philip Tan as Chief Henchman, Dan Aykroyd as Earl Weber