Skip to main content

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #233: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) is somewhat of a black sheep in the Jones franchise. Instead of going after the always-reliable Nazis, here Indy goes after an extremist Hindu religious sect who is into human sacrifices, brain washing, and slavery. As to be expected, quite a few people in India took offense. Then there are the scenes of human sacrifices, which led to the creation of the PG-13 rating in the United States because believe it or not some kids don’t react too well to seeing a man get his heart ripped out of his chest. That being said, this second entry in the franchise is still worthy of admiration thanks to some incredible sequences, notably a mine cart chase and a standoff on a rickety bridge with crocodiles waiting below.

My parents introduced me to Indiana Jones at a young age and I had a problem with a particular scene in every movie in the first three movies, whether the face melting scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark or the poor choice of cup at the end of The Last Crusade. For Temple of Doom I actually eased into the more bloody scenes. I must have been around five-years-old when it was playing on TV while we were living in Quebec, but I didn’t watch the whole thing because I was just too tired so I left right around the time all the really gory stuff took place. Yet I could still hear some very interesting sounds coming from the TV before falling asleep. A few years later we had moved to South America and my parents had bought the trilogy on VHS and I got to fill in the blanks as to what Indy was screaming about. Boy, am I glad I waited a while.

Nowadays of course I have no problem with watching Harrison Ford in his prime beating the snot out of heart-ripping Hindus, political correctness aside. As a James Bond fan this particular entry in the series also stands out as the opening sequence has Indiana Jones in a situation that would be very familiar to 007. Wearing a white tuxedo and sipping champagne, the world-trotting archaeologist is in 1935 Shanghai to make an exchange with a crime boss at his nightclub. Negotiations go south, a gunfight ensues, and Indy has to jump out of the building with the club’s lounge singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). Naturally, they land perfectly safe in the back of Indy’s car, whose driver is an eleven-year-old Chinese sidekick who goes by the name Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan).

The odd trio flee the city by plane, only to wake up and find out their pilots have decided to jump out and let them crash over the Himalayas. What to do when fuel is running out, there is no parachute, and that mountain ahead is getting pretty damn big? Why, jump out of the plane in an inflatable boat and hope for the best of course. This is the reason why young children wanted to see those movies in spite of the scary moments: they are so much fun.

In an instance of trouble finding him instead of him looking for an adventure, Indy survives the crash only to wind up in a village in India that is in dire need of assistance. Its elder claims an evil cult has stolen the village’s sacred stone and has kidnapped its children to dig for some other holy rocks hidden in the titular temple. There is a lot of folklore involved and an exposition scene in the jungle while the uptight Willie complains about the wildlife, but from a kid’s perspective all that matters is Indy is the good guy, the people at the temple are the bad guys intend on getting their hands on some mythical power and they are going to get punched, whipped, and even crushed by the good guy.

Indy’s “parents,” Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, took a gamble with the film’s dark material and I still find the brainwashing part of the movie a bit hooky today. However, once Indy is once against unleashed, this is loads of fun. From the car chase in Shanghai to the mine cart chase in the temple, the film remains true to the 1930s serials Spielberg and Lucas based their hero on.

One of my favourite scenes is when Indy is back to his old self again and he is standing in front of a guard about to beat a kid. As other kids push a light towards him, his face slowly comes out of the darkness and the next thing you see is the guard ent flying by Indy’s punches. Time to get to work Dr. Jones.


Popular posts from this blog

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #85: Blue Velvet

Exactly how do you describe a David Lynch movie? He is one of the few directors whose style is so distinctive that his last name has become an adjective. According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of Lynchian is: “having the same balance between the macabre and the mundane found in the works of filmmaker David Lynch.” To see a prime example of that adjective film lovers need look no further than Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), which does indeed begin in the mundane before slowly sinking in macabre violence.
My first introduction to the world of David Lynch was through his ground breaking, but unfortunately interrupted, early 1990s TV series Twin Peaks. This was one of the first television shows to grab viewers with a series-long mystery: who killed Laura Palmer? A mix of soap opera, police procedural, and the supernatural, it is a unique show that showed the darkness hidden in suburbia and remains influential to this day. Featuring Kyle MacLachlan as an FBI investigator with a love for …

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #90: When Harry Met Sally...

There is an age-old question regarding whether single men and women can be just friends. In real life the answer is obviously “yes,” but in movies and TV the answer always has to be that at some point two single characters will get attracted to each other and move beyond friendship. On TV I find this to be contrived and overused, but some movies can have a lot of fun with the concept, most notably Rob Reiner’s comedy classic When Harry Met Sally…(1989). It may not change your view on love and friendship, but it forever changed the meaning of the phrase “I’ll have what she’s having.”
On paper this film’s premise sounds like another rom-com, but seen by oneself during an evening of Netflix binging it does make you think about deep stuff like the long-term impact of your decisions on your life. A person you meet during a tense trip might turn up again sometime later down the road in the most unexpected ways. If there is one thing I believe in it is infinite possibilities, and Nora Ephron…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #83: Brazil

Dystopian movies from the 1980s are a funny thing since we now live in the future of those movies and if you look at the news for more than five minutes it will feel as though we are one bad day away from being into a dystopia. On the plus side, if it ends up looking like the dystopia portrayed in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) at least we will have lovely architecture to look at while the government is busy telling us how to think. This might not be a movie that will cheer you up, but the production design is amazing, the performances are great throughout, and you get to see Robert DeNiro play a maintenance man/freedom fighter.
I first saw Brazil as a Terry Gilliam double feature at the Universit√© de Sherbrooke’s movie club paired along with 12 Monkeys around ten years ago. Those two films are similar in that they both feature a rather dour future and, as with most Gilliam movies, incredibly intricate sets. However the dystopian future in Brazil is somewhat scarier than the disease-ra…