After the first Indiana Jones movie (Raiders of the Lost Ark) was released to financial and critical praise in 1981, of course it was up to Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas to create a sequel. Because they both love money. In what may seem like a rather bold move, they actually decided not to make a sequel, but a prequel instead. A lot of people who watch the Indiana Jones Trilogy as a whole usually actually watch them in the wrong order seeing as they think that Temple of Doom was a sequel, but in reality it takes place a whole year before Raiders Of The Lost Ark. This movie is also somewhat cast aside as being poor in quality compared to Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Last Crusade. Is the hate warranted? Let’s find out.
The movie starts in a somewhat confusing manner. Indiana Jones is seeing some singer known as Willie Scott (Who becomes the sort-of Bond girl of this movie) while also doing some rotten deal in Shanghai. Here lies my first quarrel of the film. Unlike the clear plot lines of Raiders and Last Crusade, Temple of Doom is written in a somewhat confusing manner, much like an older Bond title. The movie has a lot of Indiana Jones sitting down to debate and discuss with characters that we know very little about for reasons that are quickly skimmed. That being said, the plot becomes clearer and easier to follow as we go forward into the movie.
After a gun fight, Indiana Jones (who has taken singer Willie Scott hostage) makes a run for it with the help of his young partner who is only known as Short Round. Short Round is really what keeps this movie together as a whole. Ke Huy Quan (Most famous for his role in The Goonies) does the tough exterior but soft interior role very well and is actually the most likable character in the whole movie. The character of Willie Scott is completely unlikable and Indy takes on an unlikable persona himself. In Raiders, Indy could be seen as charming, however in this movie he just seems aggressive and forward. After an escape and a plane crash, Indiana Jones and the gang find themselves in a remote village with an ancient Temple nearby.
According to the town elder, mystical stones had been stolen from the village by what appeared to be raging satanists to be used in a horrifying ritual. Having heard of the stones before, Indiana Jones, Short Round and Willie head out to get the stones back from the ancient temple. Here we see a scene that is entertaining but bothers me in a way. Willie (Who is being such a princessy lil bitch) is complaining about the conditions of having to sleep in the outdoors when a snake crawls onto her. She quickly throws the snake off and Indy recoils in horror. Now as we all know, Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes. This was a fact used cleverly in the first movie, however in the second movie, we get that little glimpse of his fear and it’s never really brought up again. Why introduce it as foreshadowing if you’re not gonna make anything of it?
At this point in the movie, there is a 30 minute lull where nothing really happens. Indy, Willie and Shorty arrive at the palace, they are greeted with hospitality and assigned rooms. There’s a bit about Willie being uncomfortable about the exotic foods in this area that they just hammer to death in a most displeasing manner. There’s also a bluntly sexual encounter between Indy and Willie where they both basically say they want to fuck, but both are too stubborn to be the first to engage. Good bit.
After this sequence,they accidentally find the Temple that lies beneath the palace through a secret passage. It’s here where we see the characters we saw earlier doing some pretty satanic ritual shit that includes sacrificing. Now here’s the silliest part of the movie that most people often complain about, and to be honest, I have to agree. A man has his heart ripped out of his chest and yet he remains alive. Okay, that had to have been a typo in the script, right? Shortly after, the man is incinerated and he dies.
Here is where everything pays off. There is an exciting climax filled with chases, floods, fighting, brain wash and rescue. The most notably excellent part here is when Short Round is beating the shit out of a little kid at the same time that Indy is beating the shit out of a satanic enemy. Really good quality film making right there. So of course, at last minute the villagers come and save Indy, Willie and Short Round. They recover the stone, everyone lives happily ever after and all that jazz.
So overall, this movie is a lot of fun (despite some confusing script writing) but the fact that this was a prequel rather than a sequel raises a lot of questions. Early in the movie, it is established that Short Rounds parents were killed and that’s why Indy took him in as a sort-of sidekick. Well this movie only took place a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, so what the fuck happened to that kid? Did Indy put him up for adoption? Did he die on some frivolous pursuit? What the living shit?
Another thing about Temple of Doom is that it didn’t do as good of a job building up to the climax as the first movie did. The first movie was riddled with archaeological puzzles and myths, where in this movie, Indy seems to simply get lucky a lot.
Is Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom as excellent as Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Last Crusade? Not by a long shot, but as a stand alone movie from the 1980s, it’s a lot of fun and has some really excellent action scenes. A lot people skip right over this one and watch the other two, but to that I say NAY. Temple of Doom certainly has it’s rightful place in the franchise.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5 / 10