Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984): Breakdown by Rantbo
Indiana fights Chinese gangsters, becomes a zombie, whips some cult ass and saves a large group of malnourished children from manual labor.
Shanghai, 1935 and in a classic Bondian fashion, Indiana Jones is finishing up a un-filmed mission in China. And after a brilliant action-packed chase sequence, he’s off and falling into India for his first (chronologically and adult) cinematic adventure.
It is here that he agrees to aid a small peasant village in retrieving their lucky Sankara stone and rescue their children from a corrupt cult-infested palace. Along for the ride is a troublesome American singer (Steven Spielberg’s wife) and Indy’s faithful child sidekick, Short Round (Data from THE GOONIES).
TEMPLE OF DOOM was easily my favorite of the Indy flicks growing up. It’s dark tones, disturbing violence and creepy imagery really appealed to the Horror movie pallet I had as a child, and is partially responsible for my tastes switching to an Action centric diet in my late teens. I still love the film and unlike a lot of Indiana fans, regard it to be just as good as all the others.
The story is dark, but much like chocolate, it’s only richer because of it. The filmmakers took a chance on having an established globe-trotting hero stay in one place for the bulk of the adventure, but when the task at hand involves rescuing a bunch of enslaved children, I for one found it easy to understand and forgive this often brought about negative aspect. Not to mention how intricate and well designed the eerie temple sets were. And though the story is easily the most bleak of his filmed adventures, they still managed to pepper in a great blend of humor and heart to the tale. The relationship between Indy and Short Round is classic, for instance.
I, unlike most (I’ve dishearteningly found out), love Shorty. Sure, the character could be seen as a stereotype and nuisance, but I think Johnathan Ke Quan was a blast. With most child actors, I quickly wish upon them a quick and painful death. On screen and off. But, for some reason, Quan never bothered me. Maybe it was his Engrish accent and biting quips that made me laugh as a child. Or perhaps it was the backwards baseball cap and my love for THE GOONIES. I’m not sure. One thing’s for certain though, if it wasn’t for his character’s heroism, Indiana would still be a Thuggee zombie, so he deserves some respect. His performance was heartfelt, honest, funny and made it easy to believe that he could be close friends with Indy, despite their age and racial differences. So to all you Shorty haters, “Am-scray!” (that means ‘fuck off’ in 30s lingo).
DOOM’s Action is top notch and even after seeing this movie a dozen and a half times, I still get giddy when I think of Indy fighting off the slave-drivers, swinging from the cavern’s rafters, fighting in a speeding mine-cart and clinging to a cliff face. I can’t say enough good things about how well Spielberg shot and put this together. They just simply do not make ‘em like this, anymore. And by ‘they’ I mean the exact same people. Made back when Lucas still had the sense to stick to story and support. When Spielberg was still climbing to his eventual peak (JURASSIC PARK) of cinematic adventure and visual splendor. And when Ford seemed willing, able and pleased to be the character. Ah, the 80s…
Anyways, before I go on gushing too long, I’ll just say that TEMPLE OF DOOM is pure B-Action movie gold. A true blast of an adventure and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, shove a lit torch into their chest, as they are clearly under the spell of some bad juju.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Harrison ‘Built’ Ford ‘Tuff’ is Doctor Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones, Jr.
The intellectual’s Superman, Jones is teacher by day, globe-trotting archeologist and ass-kicker by the weekends and holidays. With the tucking in of his spectacles and the brandishing of a whip, mere man becomes legend. Indiana is the tattered waving flag of the long forgotten out-post. Braving storms, time and the apathy of his fellow man. He does what he must, not for glory (though that he does receive from the hearts and minds of those he touches), but purely for the good name of man and for future generations to grow and learn without oppression and tyranny. Brave, heroic, steadfast, strong and kind, Indiana Jones is THE American Adventuring Hero. Along his journeys he risks life and afterlife to save a cursed village and their children, exposes the Third Reich for their evil intentions and deeds and kicked ass for father and lord, without question or reward. In short, to know him, is to worship him.
A Short Document Of His Legend For This Installment:
-Kills a man with a shish-kabob.
-Beats up an Asian stunt team, while poisoned and dying.
-Jumps out of a plane with nothing but an inflatable river-raft, rockets down a snow-covered peak, flies off a several hundred foot cliff and survives without a scratch.
-We find out that the Sultan of Madagascar threatened to cut off his—misunderstanding, if he ever returned to his country. Player.
-Nothing shocks him—he’s a scientist.
-He’s an authority in primitive sexual practices, as he’s had “Years of fieldwork.”
-Gets whipped by a mongoloid, doesn’t cry out.
-Has a burning torch held to his chest. He does cry out on that one—he is human, after all.
-Stops a speeding-out-of-control mine cart with his feet.
-Severs the rope-binds of a cliff bridge–while standing in the middle of it. “He no nuts—he crazy!”
-Gets in a fist fight, while dangling a hundred feet above a gaggle of hungry crocodiles on his newly created rope-ladder.
-Whips his trophy around the waste and drags her in for some lovin’.
[THE BODY COUNT: 33]
Indiana delivers with his highest body count in the series, a very satisfying 20 dead bad guys. Another 9 kills go to Team Indy, via an impressive 3 kill punch by Kate Capshaw and some British soldiers who cap some Thuggee ass. The bad guys manage to take out one of Indiana’s buddies in the beginning and they sacrifice one of their own to appease their god, Kali. The remaining two are a couple of decomposing corpses Indy finds in a wall. Spooky.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
Indiana vs.The Slave Driver
After returning from the dark side, Indy is pissed and looking to take out his aggression on the big lug who’s been torturing children. It would have been a landslide victory for Jones, but the big bearded bastard was being aided by a cheating little bitch with a voodoo doll. But, Short Round steps up, once again (respeck), and balances the fight-scales, giving Indy an opportunity to slam the Thuggee fucker in the gut with a saw blade and beat him into a rock crusher. Squish.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Not too much. This takes place in the thirties, when men were men and women were their disposable pursuits. The film does however, open with a bunch of guys watching a musical number. Then, later on, Harrison Ford is brainwashed into being a sweaty, shirtless man-slave.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Setting on-screen woman back to 1935—allow me to introduce…
Wilhelmina ‘Willie’ Scott
“The biggest trouble with her is—the noise.”
I concur. Willie is a loud, annoying, complaining, shallow, shrewish bitch that refuses to shut up or stop screaming—ever. So, pretty much an accurate portrayal of a 1930’s American woman.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
The head Thuggee, Mola Ram, TEARS A GUY’S FUCKING HEART OUT! With his bare hand no less! AND he does it with such precision, his ‘patient’ lives after having it done. For awhile, anyways. “Kali ma, shakthi deh! “
“Mola Ram, prepare to meet Kali—IN HELL!”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Fortune and glory come second to helping out poor people. What a bunch of Om Namha Shivaye.
[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, chronologically speaking]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice