Temple of Doom, The (1984)

A fun, thrilling if sometimes disturbing ride, but it is not as substantial as ‘Raiders’ or ‘Crusade’.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Steven Spielberg
1984 | USA | Action/Adventure | 118 mins | 2.39:1 | English
PG (passed clean)

Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan
Plot: Indiana Jones is on the hunt for a mystical stone at the behest of a desperate village. On his mission, he stumbles upon an evil plot around the Temple of Doom.
Awards: Won 1 Oscar – Best Visual Effects.  Nom. for 1 Oscar – Best Original Score.
Distributor: Paramount

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Tight
Audience Type: Mainstream

Viewed: DVD
First Published: 20 Apr 2007
Spoilers: No

The sequel to the wildly popular Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Temple of Doom is a lesser film in many ways, though it does not seem to be as bad as some people might think.

Maybe the release of the quite awful The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), the fourth Indiana Jones film, kind of put things into perspective.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas, The Temple of Doom is a decent action-adventure picture that is consistently fun to watch, features some amazing action set-pieces, and offers two hours worth of entertainment, though not for the whole family.

The Temple of Doom inspired the creation of the PG13 rating category in the US because for a film that was supposedly marketed as a popcorn feature that could be enjoyed by both young and old, it was inadvertently dark and disturbing.  The second act takes place in a large underground chamber of sorts where humans are sacrificed to an evil god.

In one notoriously graphic scene, a human heart is ripped out by the film’s key villain, Mola Ram, to be offered in a ritual.  The loud chanting that accompanies the scene also proves to be quite unsettling.

“Indy!  Cover your heart!  Cover your heart!”

The story opens in Shanghai, but moves quickly to a rural region in India where Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) helps a desperate village to find a mystical stone stolen by a secret cult led by Mola Ram.  

He is followed by Willie, an American woman who shrieks and complains nearly every minute, and a resourceful and quick-thinking Chinese boy called Short Round.

They uncover not only the practices of evil rituals, but also hundreds of innocent children put under a curse, digging away without enough food and water to find the last two mystical stones that would give unlimited power to the cult.

Apart from the heart-ripping scene, there are others that are equally stomach-churning such as the scene of the exotic feast of live, slimy snakes, monkey brains, and eyeball soup, and another scene in which Indy and co. find themselves in a small, dark chamber infested with an assortment of bugs and creepy crawlies.

While the action sequences are not as epic as Raiders or The Last Crusade (1989), they remain thrilling nevertheless, especially the iconic chase sequence involving mining cars.

The Temple of Doom is a fun film to watch if you can bear to sit through some of the more unsettling scenes, though the film itself is a pale shadow when compared to its direct prequel and sequel.

Grade: B



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