My good friend Todd from Forgotten Films and co host of Walt Sent Me Podcast has a cool blogathon that is all about movies from the year 1984. Why have one about 84? Well a lot of great movies that came out that year, that’s why. “Ghostbusters“, “A Nightmare on Elm Street“, “Gremlins“, and my choice “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom“are just a few of the awesome titles that came out that year.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke-Quan
Writers: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, George Lucas
Director: Steven Spielberg
A lot of movie fans consider this to be one of the more weaker entries in the Indiana Jones series. Although I still think “Crystal Skull” takes the the cake on that one, but to be fair I should re watch that one too. “Temple of Doom” however has the daunting challenge to follow up one of the most successful adventure movies of all time. We want to see Indiana do some of the same stuff that he did before in “Raiders of The Lost Ark“, but we don’t want it to be a carbon copy of that one. So what do we do? How do you open a movie when the opening of the first one was just so iconic. Should we try for something more amazing and have Indy escape from something more dangerous then a runaway boulder. Of course not, because there is no better way to open an action adventure then with a musical number.
After we see the paramount logo we are subjected to a Japanese(or maybe was it Chinese I apologize greatly if I got the exact region wrong) cover of “Anything Goes” by Cole Porter. This wasn’t just used in the background. It’s the whole credit sequence and for a movie that is mostly marketed towards teenage boys. I gotta say that is a ballsy move. It would be like having April O Neal sing a cover of “All That Jazz” to open the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“movie. The title alone suggests that indeed anything will go in this movie. Don’t expect what you think will be expected.
After the song we see Indiana is at this night club called Obi Wan(I kid you not) to meet with some gangsters to get back this one artifact. Jeeze Indiana haven’t you learned to stop dealing with shady people when trying to get back these treasures you seek. The gangsters somehow trick Indiana into drinking some poison and there is a fun fight sequence of him trying to get the antidote back. Indy tries to get the upper hand when he puts a gun to one of the gangster’s molls Willie Scott(Kate Capshaw). But that has no effect because Lao Che(The Gangster) could care less if he shoots her or not. Plus the girl seemed to be more interested in the artifact then she is with her own life. They both manage to escape from the club where Indiana’s partner Short Round(Jonathan Ke Quan) is waiting for them in a cab. This kid could be no more then 10 and yet is one of the best partners that Indiana has ever had. Next to his dad in the third movie. I think Short Round was awesome and I wish he was in more movies then just this one.(Yeah, That’s right, I said it) All three drive into an air field and board a plane to escape the gangsters. Unfortunately for them the plane just happens to be owned by Lao Che(I think that’s right).
The next scene aboard the plane is very cool to watch, but If I were to explain it. You would begin to find a lot of errors within the context of that moment. Like how the hell could anyone survive a drop that far, and twice for the matter. It reminded me of the same problems I had with the whole refrigerator sequence in the “Kingdom of Crystal Skull“. Yet despite the logical errors. It’s still a cool looking sequence and sometimes for an action movie that is all one could ever hope for. This movie was trying to copy(oops I mean pay homage) the many action serials of the 30’s and 40’s(which this is set in). Those shorts I’m sure had many moments that would have us scratching our heads in disbelief. But no matter, it was still fun.
After that, the three wary travelers make their way to a village where the people have suffered greatly All of their kids have been taking away and even had their magic stones stolen by this bureaucratic Government. Geeze what a bunch of assholes. The famed archeologist agrees to get back both the kids and the stones. Despite any objections he has from his Willie.(it’s my one and only dick joke, I swear)
While we are at it. Willie has got to be one of the worst companions that Indiana has ever known. How the hell could he replace the hotness that was Marion Ravenwood(Karen Allen) from “Raiders Of The Lost Ark“. Now that girl was cute , smart, and she could drink. My ideal dream woman. Willie just complains and whines all the time. She does nothing to add to the plot and ends up making more problems for both Indiana and Short Round in the end. I’m not blaming this all on Kate Capshaw herself. She does her best with the role that was giving and has some OK moments. She just wasn’t written that very well to begin with. Now in Indiana’s defense the reason why gets hooked up with this girl is because this story takes place before “Raiders” Yes,folks “Temple of Doom” is suppose to be a prequel, and for most of it I can buy that it is. Except for that one scene where he finds another guy wielding a big sword and it ends different. It gets a big laugh and that’s due to what you remember about the first one.
Another thing that separates this from all of the other movies in the series is the gory stuff. For a movie rated PG this does manage to have some moments that would give this movie now a PG-13 if not R rating now. Scenes like the dinner party and the dude getting his heart ripped out would have been completely removed today. Ahh the joys of the 80’s. The only decade where nudity and violence could still be in movies that you could watch with the family. It was because of this and “Gremlins” that the idea of a new rating was suggested. Yes Thank you parent focus groups for wrecking all of our fun.
“Temple of Doom” was the first Indiana Jones adventure I remember watching. I’m sure my parents did show me “Raiders” first, but I re watched this one more times when I was younger. I liked the fact that the action or story doesn’t slow down too much and that it keeps it’s momentum going strong throughout the whole thing. Today it still holds it’s own and it reminds me of a fun B -Movie action flick. Yes it is over the top and campy in a lot of places, but that’s what I love about it. It takes a few chances and tries something different with the main character. Most other franchise characters would play it completely safe and I’m glad that Spielberg and Lucas tried something new with him. I won’t deny that it does get a lot more darker then the other movies do, but it’s still a fun one to watch.
Check out the other movies in the 1984-A-Thon by visiting the site.