This blockbuster prequel masquerading as a sequel to the mega-successful Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) was so gory and surprisingly violent, it led to the creation of the MPAA’s PG-13 rating.
And if you don’t think that was enough to send every red-blooded kid in America racing to the cinema to buy a ticket, you’ve obviously never been a kid.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was certainly bloodier than the first film, but that seemed to be part of the master plan – bigger, faster, louder – in every way a higher-octane version of the thrill-packed original. Indy even got a pair of new partners, along with a new quest for sacred treasure.
In the elaborately choreographed opening sequence set in a Shanghai nightclub in 1935, a group of dancers stage a production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. In the audience is Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), who’s negotiating with Chinese gangster Lao Che (Roy Chiao) for a priceless diamond.
One thing leads to another, and soon Indy is scrambling for a vial of antidote to the poison he’s just drunk while lead dancer/singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) grabs for the diamond in a club-wide riot. Indy grabs Willie and makes his escape to the Shanghai streets, where pint-sized kid sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) picks them up.
The threesome board the next plane out of Shanghai, which turns out to be owned by Lao Che himself.
The pilots bail from the sabotaged plane, leaving Indy and company with no parachutes. So like any good scientist, he improvises, riding an inflatable raft through air, land and finally water, coming to a rest in a small East Indian village.
The locals feed Indy, Short Round and the endlessly complaining Willie, but they humbly ask a favour in return.
The village children have been disappearing, and the villagers think they’re being held in a nearby palace.
Indy isn’t really one for pro bono work, but when he learns there’s an archaeological treasure involved – the legendary Sankara stones – he mounts up for another adventure, one that will take him through insect-plagued passageways, into a bizarre cult and through a harrowing mine cart chase before the high-wire finale.
Again packed with wall-to-wall stunts, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom delivered the promised action, and audiences responded by making it the biggest worldwide hit of the year.
The film was actually the least successful of the three Indiana Jones films (it’s all relative, of course). In 1989, the hero returned once more, with Sean Connery as his gruff father, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Ke Huy Quan
Stany De Silva