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Indiana Jones is back! Within a Chinese bar,
A deal involving artifacts is going well so far,
But soon he drinks a poison, and sheer chaos then ensues
As he retrieves the antidote, since he’s too good to lose.
By accident, he grabs a girl named Willie, who can sing,
And young Short Round drives them away, with bad guys following.
They think they’ve flown to safety, but events change in a flash
As villains parachute away and leave their plane to crash.
Among the Himalayas, our three heroes have one hope:
They use a blown-up raft to then toboggan down a slope.
They soon locate a village with no children and no joy,
And Indy swears to find some stones and every girl and boy.
Marching through the jungle, Willie constantly complains,
But something else scares off their guides till not a one remains.
They find an ancient palace of a quite young Indian prince,
And everyone seems civilized, though dinner makes them wince.
But when night falls, a man jumps Indiana from behind,
And they discover passageways they were not meant to find.
Once done with bugs and booby traps, they see the head adult
Perform a violent ritual to serve the Thugee cult.
They see the stolen sacred stones and plan to take them back,
But all of them are captured in a sudden sneak attack.
While Shorty is imprisoned with the other captured youth,
Our hero’s forced to drink some blood that makes him act uncouth.
He helps prepare poor Willie for the coming sacrifice,
Behaving like he is bewitched and just no longer nice,
But Shorty knocks him out of it, and Indy saves the day,
Then freeing Willie and the kids, who quickly run away.
The trio’s chased in mining carts as all the tunnels flood,
But Mola Ram, the evil priest, still has a taste for blood.
Emerging on a canyon wall, they cross a rope bridge, where
The three are cornered by the priest, his thugs, and evil glare.
When Indiana takes a risk to cut the bridge in two,
He takes out most of Mola’s minions, leaving just a few.
While climbing up the broken bridge, the priest opposes Jones,
Who feeds him to the crocodiles but keeps one of the stones.
The British come a little late but save them from the cult,
And long-lost kids return back home, where parents all exult.
The elders thank our hero for their stone with magic strong,
And Jones and Willie share a kiss (but it won’t last for long).

Here we have the second Indiana Jones, both the second one released and the second one on my list. Temple of Doom is one of those films that is a strange mix of ingenious inspiration and unfortunate creative choices. On the one hand, there are sequences of sheer brilliance, such as the opening scene with the gong, the mine cart chase, the spiked-ceiling booby trap, and the rope bridge standoff, all scenes that blow away most action movies and have been frequently imitated.

On the other hand, Lucas and Spielberg threw in many violent and annoying elements that detract from the film’s overall watchability. Did anyone want to see a guy get impaled by a flaming shish kebab or someone’s heart be ripped out? Is that inflatable raft scene really plausible? Kate Capshaw is lovely (Spielberg thought so too), but she’s helpless and irritating with all her whining and I-broke-a-nail prissiness. The bugs Willie must endure are a bit much but nothing compared with that bizarre dinner table. Chilled monkey brains, anyone?

Thus, it has much to criticize, while retaining much of the entertainment value of Raiders. Harrison Ford remains the quintessential action hero, yet he’s even turned into a villain, caging Willie and striking Short Round, although he is being mind-controlled at the time. Young Jonathan Ke Huy Quan is surprisingly likable as Short Round, much more so than other eager young sidekicks, like, ahem, Francis in Swiss Family Robinson. It makes me wonder what happened to his character since he never appears elsewhere, as well as Willie for that matter. Oh, that’s right, she married Spielberg instead.

Overall, Temple of Doom is an unnecessarily violent film (it helped establish the PG-13 rating) that is still quite worthy of the Indiana Jones name. Until Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it was considered the worst of the Jones films, but it has enough merits to still exceed many lesser adventure movies. It may be a bit bumpy, but it’s one heck of a ride.

Best lines (during the booby trap scene): (Willie, after seeing two corpses) “There are two dead people in here!” (Indy, in the shrinking room) “There’s gonna be two dead people in here! Hurry!” (and Indy, a little later) “Willie, we are going to DIE!” (the way he says it is priceless)

Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 9
Visual effects: 9
Originality: 8
Watchability: 8
Other (violence, language): -4
TOTAL: 42 out of 60

Next: #191 – Joyeux Noel

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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