Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released on May 23, 1984. This film has the most controversy out of the franchise. Indy’s in India and is asked by a village to help find their missing mystical stone, as well as their missing children. He stumbles upon this cult and they get to use the mine car chase scene cut out of Raiders and we get some crocodiles.
Temple of Doom is again directed by Steven Spielberg, score by John Williams, but this time around we have Willard Huvck and Gloria Katz writing the script. The movie stars Harrison Ford in the title role, and we then get Kate Capshaw and Jonathan Ke Quan to round (see what I did there??) out the cast.
This is he second installment in the franchise, but it’s a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Raiders takes place in 1936 while Temple of Doom takes place in 1935. Casually watching this films it wouldn’t matter, but it’s nice to know.
With the success of the first movie a second one was inevitable. George Lucas didn’t want to have the Nazis be the bad guys again, so that’s why he decided to make a prequel, this is also the darker of the trilogy, which mirrors the Star Wars trilogy, and also the personal lives of both Spielberg and Lucas at the time as both were going through divorces. This led to themes such as cult practicing, child slavery, black magic and human sacrifice, which also gave way to controversy (due to its portrayal of Indian culture), mixed reviews and making way for the creation of the PG-13 rating.
We start out with a polarizing big song and dance number by Willie Scott in 1935 Shanghai, then Indy (in a homage to James Bond) narrowly escapes Lao Che and his thugs in a car driven by Short Round, only to get to the airport in a cargo plane own by Lao Che. We’re now over India, somewhere in the Himalayas, no fuel and no place to land, our trio jumps out of the plane via life raft and they wash up on to a desolate village.
Here the villagers believe that the Hindu god Shiva has sent they to retrieve the sacred Sivalinga stone that was stolen, along with all their children. To Pankot Palace they must go. They arrive at the palace and things seem on the up and up, they’re allowed to stay the night as guests and dine with the others, in what can only be described as the banquet from hell. Here we get some exposition as Indy tries to get some information regarding the Thuggee cult, this doesn’t sit well with the residence, so they send an assassin to kill him in his room. Having thwarted this attempt on his life, Indy goes in to Willie room look for booby traps or an assassin in the lurches. Instead, he finds a secret passage way and the trio goes storming the castle, well, the under-castle as it were.
They survive countless amounts of bugs and a booby trapped room, only to witness a human sacrifice taking place, led by the high priest Mola Ram, and… three Sankara stones!
They’re discovered and are taken in to captivity, Indy’s made to drink the “blood of Kali” which brainwashes him, Short Round is enslaved along with the other kids and made to dig, and Willie is dressed up to be their next sacrifice. Shorty breaks loose of his bonds and makes his way to Indy, only to find out that he’s been brainwashed. Shorty snaps Indy out and they break Willie free from the cage, now on the run they go through this elaborate mine car chase. After all that fun they emerge above ground and are cornered b Mola Ram’s henchmen.
Indy cuts the rope bridge sending most of the thugs to be eaten by crocodiles in the river below. Then faces off with Mola Ram as he recites the words to set the stones to glow and burn through his satchel, Mola Ram greedy for the stones grabs one and let’s go of his grip to the rope, big mistake, he falls to his doom.
The trio return to the village along with all the children and the stone. And they lived happily ever after.
The good; this is a prequel! And I didn’t even pick up on that till later in life. It’s very well done how disguised that fact it, it almost doesn’t matter.
The opening sequence is ripe with “easter eggs.” I mean wow, the song and dance number is a homage to the Busby Berkeley. Then we get these below;
A nod to James Bond, because Indiana Jones was conceived because Spielberg and Lucas wanted their next project to be something fun, like, “a James Bond film.”
Then a nice nod to Lucas, the opening scene takes place at Club Obi Wan.
And who arranges for their last minute flight? It’s Dan Aykroyd!
That’s all just the opening of the movie! How did they do that? It’s a film connoisseur’s opening, what movie today has accomplish such a feat?
I have to mention the mine cart chase scene is really outstanding, considering this thing was done without CG, bravo. This sequence utilized almost every known trick in the filmmakers’ handbag (ditty bag). From miniatures, to sets, to stop motion, it had it all. The walls were painted aluminum foil!
I always wondered why the Disneyland ride wasn’t done after this scene, it’s got theme park written all over it, the sound designers even used the sounds from Disneyland rollercoasters in the film, if you listen clearly… may hear the ghost of Big Thunder Railroad… (Big Thunder’s not a ghost…)
The bad; the film is the darkest of the trilogy, it almost never lets up. From the moment we get in to the cult’s lair it’s brutal. But if that’s what Spielberg and Lucas needed to do to get through the rough patch they were going through, by all means, take it out on Indy and Short Round, they get whipped a lot!
I’m not completely sold on the big song and dance number in the beginning… maybe it just runs a bit too long for me. It’s a nice way to do the opening credits though.
The banquet scene is a bit over the top for me, are any of those food real?
It feels uneven here because we get all of this humor out of the way to make way for all the heavy dark brutality coming up. Just seems like there should’ve been more of a balance between the two.
Overall, a great time to be had by all. It’s hard to think of a time when the PG-13 rating wasn’t around, even more to think that just cause you’re 13 you can handle more.
I’d pair a viewing of Temple of Doom with a bottle of Jones Soda, specifically the Pure Cane Crushed Melon soda.
Why specifically the Pure Cane Crushed Melon, when Jones has lots of other choices?
Well, pure cane juice is very popular in India, and the melon flavor is probably the closest to juice juice. Also, Jones… cause ya know… Docta. Jones doll! The carbonated melon flavor will carry you through the action adventure that is The Temple of Doom.
Jones Soda Co. is based out of Pioneer Square in Seattle, Washington. Founded by Pete van Stolk in 1986, Jones started off as a beverage distributor in Western Canada later that decade. On August of 2000 the company formally became known as Jones Soda Co., and in November 2006 the company announced that it would be using cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup in its products, which is breaks from the norm of the carbonated soft drink biz, where they all use high fructose corn syrup.
Temple of Doom holds its own, it’s smart enough to be a prequel before prequels were a thing. Great way to follow up Raiders, and what’s more, it doesn’t let you down.