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Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

What he said:

He

I probably knew this at one point, but did not remember until I started reading on up this movie after recently watching it, but this is supposed to be a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’m not sure why Lucas and Spielberg decided to do that, and you really can’t tell it is supposed to take place before Raiders, but that’s what it is billed as in the plot summary. It is said to have taken one year before Raiders.  

Another thing I wanted to note was that until the release of Crystal Skull in 2008, this was thought to be the one everyone hated. I have always heard that, but had trouble believing it, because it has solid ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. I never disliked the movie, but I’m only one man. When I looked around and saw a lot of other people enjoy it as well I had to wonder if what “they say’ was actually ever true at all.

The movie opens up with Indy (Harrison Ford) in Shanghai, where he is meeting up with a “businessman” named Lao Che (Roy Chiao). They are meeting at one of Lao’s nightclubs (which is named Obi wan by the way) to exchange some merchandise that Indy located for Lao. What a hell of a way to begin a movie by the way. That was fantastic. Every movie should begin with a number like that. There’s just something about it that really helps communication the situation Indy is in at the beginning of the movie. So anyway, Indy and Lao are about to make a deal, when Lao decides to pull a fast one and the shit hits the fan real quick. Indy is forced to take a hostage to protect himself.

 This hostage is a singer named Willie Scott and boy is this chick a handful. Willie (Kate Capshaw) is something of a gold-digger. She cares about singing, money, and fame. So, when she inadvertently gets drug into the situation with Indy, she turns into your classic damsel in distress; which makes for some really funny moments throughout the movie. Some people say Capshaw is annoying in this role. I completely disagree. First, she’s supposed to be. Willie is shallow, whiny, and vocal when she doesn’t get what she wants. Watching this “princess” get thrown into the middle of India – along with snakes, bugs, and killer bad guys – is absolutely hilarious. I love Kate Capshaw in this role. She is freakin’ hilarious as Willie Scott. I can’t even comprehend how someone doesn’t like her in this role. She is supposed to be loud and whiny. She delivered on that and it is entertaining as hell. Fish out of water doesn’t even begin to describe out how of her element Willie is in India.

Temple of Doom

Oh, and speaking of India, I haven’t even explained how they end up there. So, Indy and Wilie flee the club, along with Indy’s sidekick, Short Round. Short Round is an 11-year old who has somehow fallen in with Indy and his adventures. Indy kind of looks after him, but also really relies on him too. He’s the Robin to Indy’s Batman. The three of them end up on a plane that ends up crashing in India and that is where their real adventure begins.

Before I continue, I have to stop to comment on Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quen). This character is epic. Too often, child sidekicks aren’t nearly as funny as they are supposed to be, but man this kid is hilarious. Quan, who also plays Data in The Goonies, delivers exactly the kind of amusing and spunky performance this character needed. I love Data and I love The Goonies (review here), but this performance is excellent. Short Round kicks ass and is as funny to boot. I want a Short Round of my own. Anyone know where I can find one? This kid is awesome. He is what every kid watching this movie wants to be. I can actually picture myself as a kid looking up to Short Round. He’s funny, kicks bad guy butt, and is best buds with Indiana Jones for Pete’s sake. It doesn’t’ get much better than that.

They end up in a small village where a local Shaman tells about a cult that has been abducting their children. Indy agrees to help them. They go to Pankot Palace and inquire about these rumors, but the palace dismisses them as nothing more than fables. Well it turns out there’s a bunch of bad guys, led by the evil Mola Ram, living underneath the palace. The next thing they know, they are fighting for their lives against Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) and his followers. Mola Ram scared the crap out of my as a kid by the way.

The Indiana Jones movies are always playing on Spike every few weeks or so. I usually have them on in the background while I’m doing something else, but hadn’t actually seen any of them all the way through in years. So when we actually caught this from the beginning, we decided to watch it, and boy am I glad we did. This movie is awesome. I simply do not understand the hate it supposedly got upon its release. This is a classic adventure film. It has laughs, action, and romance; the three ingredients a movie needs in order to fit my description of an adventure movie. I would have to see the rest of them all the way through to give an accurate opinion, but I might have to agree with the She and make this my favorite. This is a fun movie from start-to-finish. Indy gets in some awesome fist fights, the movie is absolutely hilarious, and there’s a scary/gross factor which is immensely entertaining. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were a hell of a team back in the day.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on June 25, 2013.

Temple of Doom

What She said:

She

I have heard a lot of people say that they didn’t like this second installment in the classic Indiana Jones series of films.  After the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg 1981 hit, Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’m told Temple of Doom came as somewhat of a shock—much darker and moodier than the previous movie.  I call this the second installment, but Temple of Doom is actually meant to be a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I honestly had never noticed growing up, but then again I was just a kid the first time I saw this movie.

Temple of Doom was always my favorite.  It has so much fun grossout stuff that a kid would like.  First of all, I should fully explain that we had this movie on VHS when I was a youngin’.  It was the only Indiana Jones movie that we owned.  And it should be noted that in classic form my parents managed to miss the very beginning of the film when they taped it off HBO, and so growing up I didn’t even realize the first 20 minutes of Temple of Doom existed.  That’s ok though.  I was much more fixated on moments like the Palace dinner scene, the scene where they walk through tunnels with the bugs, and, naturally, the part where the bad guy rips the other dude’s heart out.  I had a shocking tolerance for the disgusting as a youth.

As an adult, I revisit this film with fondness.  The story, while a little elusive in the beginning, picks up steam and is compelling.  More than anything else, it is the action as well as the dynamic on screen banter between Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw that make this film memorable.  They’re great together.

But let me go back and give you the basic premise.  As mentioned, Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The film opens in 1935 with Indy in a Shanghai nightclub.  There’s some sort of transaction going down, and things go terribly wrong.  Indy barely escapes the clutches of crime boss Lao Che, and picks up a pretty American singer, Willie Scott, along the way.  As you watch the film, keep an eye out for the name of the nightclub as Indy flees.  I noticed it for the first time with my most recent viewing of this film and was highly amused.  Anyway, we’re also introduced to Indy’s little sidekick, Short Round.  The whole crew board a private plane to get the heck out of Dodge, at which point Indy utters the fateful words, “Nice try Lao Che.”  Lao Che responds by cackling as he watches Indy fly away in a plane he owns and intends to intentionally crash, killing Indy and friends. 

Temple of Doom

So, as anticipated, things go wrong on the plane and Indy, Willie, and Short Round, must get out of another bind.  They end up stranded in the Himalayas, and come across a small village.  There, they meet an elder that tells Indy that the town’s sacred stone has been stolen.  In addition to this, all of the village’s children have also been abducted.   With the promise of “fortune and glory” in sight, Indy cannot resist but try to retrieve the sacred Sankara stone.  It’s apparently one of five that have diamonds inside them that glow.  Their travels take them to Pankot Palace, an ornate place where a young Maharajah lives.   The crew is treated to a free stay, and everyone in the Palace pulls out all the stops, including a meal that Indy, Willie, and Short Round will never forget.  That night, Indy is attacked, and the group discover secret tunnels in the building.  They witness a fabled cult carrying out their rituals under the Palace, and also realize that this is where the lost children and the stone have been brought.  Indy, Willie, and Short Round must put on their brave faces and save the day.

There’s so much fun stuff in this movie.  I’ve already told you about my favorite parts, but the film is absolutely filled with them.  Indy really has strong relationships with the other main characters in this movie, and that makes for a very authentic adventure.  I’m not sure what I like more, the back and forth between Indy and Willy, Indy and Short Round, or Willy and Short Round.  They’re all pretty classic.

I know I’m partisan, but I find the dialogue in this film to be particularly well written.  I’m sure there are some holes in the actual plot, but I’ve never noticed them and can quickly overlook any lapses for the sake of enjoying everything else this film has to offer.  Indeed, Temple of Doom is quite dark.  There are themes of murderous sacrificial cults and child slavery depicted, so perhaps for some it could be a lot to handle, but I honestly find the film to be so much of a fictional fantasy that I don’t take it that seriously.  Even as a kid, I didn’t really find myself having nightmares or anything. 

The movie is filled with action and tense situations, and the special effects, for the most part, stand the test of time.  I think this is fortunately because back in the early ‘80s when this film was made, there wasn’t any CGI.  A lot was done with models and stunt teams, and so things still look fairly authentic. 

I love this movie—always have and probably always will, and so I highly recommend it.  You can watch this as part of the Indiana Jones series, or it can serve as a standalone film.  I’ve probably seen this movie 10 times more than any of the others, and it works fine that way.

Thumbs emphatically up.

 

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