Thursday Night Movie Club
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
star rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 23 May 1984

Director: Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford
Kate Capshaw
Jonathan Ke Quan
Amrish Puri
Roshan Seth
Philip Stone
Roy Chiao
David Yip
Ric Young
Chua Kah Joo
Rex Ngui
Philip Tan
Dan Aykroyd
Akio Mitamura
Michael Yama
Indiana Jones
Willie Scott
Short Round
Mola Ram
Chattar Lal
Captain Blumburtt
Lao Che
Wu Han
Kao Kan
Maitre d'
Chief Henchman
Chinese Pilot
Chinese Co-Pilot
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom poster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom poster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom poster
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomGeorge Lucas must not have had much confidence in the marketing abilities of the character he created, namely Indiana Jones. Imagine the follow-up to "Dr. No" being titled "James Bond in From Russia With Love." The lack of confidence shows in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a poor sequel to the fantastic Raiders of the Lost Ark. The thrill is gone. In its place is this much darker new adventure in the Indiana Jones saga.

Harrison Ford reprises his role as archeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones. The film starts with the confusing subtitle of "Hong Kong 1935", which makes this a "prequel" of sorts, taking place a year before "Raiders". The film does begin with a wonderful blend of action and comedy. Indiana Jones is in Hong Kong to sell a rare jade Buddah to an oriental gangster Lao Che (Roy Chiao). Jones rightfully suspects a double-cross and has alternate plans of his own. The exchange of the statuette for a diamond does not go smoothly. Lao poisons Jones' champagne. During the scuffle, the antidote and the diamond end up on the dance floor. Confusion reigns as an ice bucket is also dumped on the floor. This is fantastic filmmaking blending humor with action/suspense.

Harrison Ford, Jonathan Ke Quan, and Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomSinking the film from the onset are the appearances of Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan). Willie is an untalented brat of a woman. She is down on her luck and barely makes a living as a night club singer. Capshaw can't sing which is the whole point of the character. Alas, Capshaw also cannot act. Willie is the complete opposite to the fiercely independent Marion Ravenwood so wonderfully portrayed by Karen Allen. Willie certainly cannot tie her shoe and spit at the same time. Five minutes of listening to Willie's constant complaining and the audience will be looking at their watches in dread.

Jonathan Ke Quan may be an upcoming talent in films but who thought having a child portray a major role in an action film to be a good idea. Short Round is every bit annoying as he is cute. Since children play a critical part of the overall story, Lucas decided to include a child to help the audience feel the plight of the lost children. Whenever Short Round opens his yap, the audience will be looking at their watches thinking, "An hour and forty minutes more of this!" What did Indiana Jones do to deserve this punishment?

After leaping out of a crashing airplane, Jones, Willie and Short Round slide down a snow-covered mountain in an inflateable raft. After plummeting off a cliff, the three drop into a quiet stream that slowly turns into a raging waterfall. The stunt work is played for laughs. The poor C.G. work on this sequence keeps the audience's laughter in check. "Ha Ha. Wasn't that funny?" Sheesh! What's next?

The Temple of Doom in Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomThe three travelers find themselves in a desolate village in India. The village has been suffering through a drought after one of the fabled Adi Shankara Stones was taken from the village along with all of the children. With children being exploited, Indy has no choice but to head to the Pankot Palace and discover what is happening.

Whereas Raiders of the Lost Ark did not contain a single boring second, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is plagued with long, dull, boring segments. There aren't any archeological riddles for Indy to solve. Get in, get the kids, get the stones, get out. There are only a handful of truly exciting scenes: the opening, the ending and the scene in which Indy and Short Round are trapped in a room in which the ceiling slowly lowers. The gaps in the action scenes are filled with Willie Scott's incessant ranting, wailing, and shrieking. Someone put a cork in her already!

Amrish Puri as Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomThe evil-doers this time around is the Kl Thuggee religious cult led by the ruthless Mola Ram (Amris Puri). Mola Ram is using the children to search for the final two Shankara Stones. If he collects all five stones, he can rule the world. Puri is very good portraying evil and sorcery. He is dangerous. During a sacrifice, Mola Ram rips the still beating heart out of the chest of the sacrificial "volunteer".

The middle portion of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is very dark, bleak and rather gruesome for an action film. Screenwriter Willard Huyck has gone off the deep end sucking all of the fun and excitement out of the franchise. The only joke that works is also a parody of a scene from Raiders. In Raiders, Indy is about to get into a fight: Indy's bullwhip vs a man with a large sword. Indy simply pulls out his gun and shoots the man. This time, Indy reaches for his gun only to find his holster is empty.

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomSteven Spielberg doesn't seem to have his heart in his work for this outing. Spielberg's flair for dramatic camera work is not on display. Some of the scenes are just plain stupid: the afore-mentioned flight down the mountain and the ending coal car chase through the labyrinthian mines.

After the pure exhiliration, excitement, energy of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the follow-up prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is surprisingly boring, dull, lacking energy, and populated with two annoying characters the audience may be rooting to die. Maybe George Lucas will get real creative with Indiana Jones inevitable next outing by titling the film "Indiana Jones 3".