Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan
Tag line: "If adventure has a name... it must be Indiana Jones"
Trivia: This was Kate Capshaw's second theatrical film
Initially, I was not a fan of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Like its predecessor, Raiders of the Lost Ark, this film was born of the love its makers, namely Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, had for the Saturday afternoon serials that were popular in their youth. Yet where Raiders of the Lost Ark spun a tale every bit as exciting as its most electrifying action scene, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom struck me as a rousing adventure with very little meat on it bones, offering nothing but one empty thrill after another. Revisiting it now, I see this was precisely the point, and found myself enjoying the movie more than I ever had.
Set several years before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has Indiana (Harrison Ford) teaming up with not one, but two sidekicks: nightclub singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and a young Asian boy named Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan). When a plane crash leaves them stranded in India, the three are enlisted by the citizens of a small village to retrieve a sacred stone, which was stolen from its shrine by the followers of Mola Ram (Amrish Puri), High Priest of a religious cult known as the Thuggees, which still practices human sacrifice to appease its Gods. Can Indiana Jones complete this holy mission, or will evil win out in the end?
Where Raiders took a breath every now and again to further its story of Nazis in the desert and omnipotent artifacts, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is all about the adventure, peppered with a whole lot of whimsy (Kate Capshaw’s Willie is the comic relief in practically every scene). Following a showdown with some gangsters at a Shanghai nightclub, we join Indiana Jones and his companions as they leap from a doomed aircraft, escape a room with a collapsible ceiling, and race through an underground mine, usually one small step ahead of the bad guys.
None of its meant to be taken seriously, of course; the sight of our heroes jumping from the plane aboard an inflatable life raft told me that. But never mind. With elaborate set pieces and a story that alternates between impossible danger and amusing fantasy, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is, start to finish, a high-energy delight.