Temple of Doom Live Blog

Next up in my live blogging quest for fortune and glory is the unfairly maligned Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Temple of Doom was the last chapter of the Indy trilogy to get recorded off TV, so I was never as familiar with it as Raiders or The Last Crusade. When I was about 12 (I think), I was looking for good movies in the weekly TV listings and saw Temple of Doom on the schedule. I readied a blank VHS tape and set the VCR timer (those where the days). But when I turned the TV on at the appropriate time, I was surprised to see an elaborate dance number to Anything Goes. What the heck was this? I went back and double checked the listings, but when I came back, there was Harrison Ford in a white dinner jacket. I guess it was Indiana Jones after all. Well, sort of.

George Lucas mentions in the dvd extras that they thought it would be "fun" and "unexpected" to open the movie with a big dance number. I believe that was also his reasoning for including the big song & dance routine in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi. I don't think I need to say anything else about that.

Lao Che is definitely a worthy addition to the Indiana Jones rogues gallery. He certainly makes more of an impression than Chattar Lal. Who is Chattar Lal you ask? My point exactly. There should have a shocking twist revealed later in the movie that Lao Che was actually in league with Mola Ram and the Thuggee Cult.

Classic Indy Moment #9 - Anything goes at Club Obi Wan.

Diabolical laughter after you take a drink is never a good sign.

Let's see, scanning the restaurant...ah, flaming skewers, those’ll do nicely.

That sounded like a Wilhelm Scream as Indy goes crashing into the bandstand.

The antidote for the poison is the whole reason that Willie Scott gets dragged along for the rest of the movie. Note to the filmmakers, if you are going to create an annoying character, try to come up with a really good reason for them to be there (Cough Jar Jar Cough).

It is one of my life-long ambitions to laugh uncontrollably while firing a tommy gun. Coincidentally, it is also a life long ambition of mine to use a giant rolling gong as a shield before leaping out of a window.

"Hey Docta Jones, no time for love. We've got company!"

What car chase through the streets of Shanghai would be complete without a rickshaw gag? And was that a second Wilhelm Scream in there?

Honestly, why is Indy taking Willie on the plane? He already drank the antidote. She serves no further purpose!

Instead of emptying the fuel tank and chuckling sinisterly as they bail out, why don’t Lao Che's thugs just shoot Indy and co. and throw their bodies overboard? That seems much more simple.

The opening 20 minutes of Doom really maintains the frenetic spirit of Raiders. Just to recap, Indy has been poisoned, shot at, forced to leap out a several stories high window, chased through the streets of Shanghai, shot at some more, bailed out of a crashing plane in a raft, ridden said raft down a snowy mountain, off a cliff, and into white water rapids before eventually escaping harm's way.

The movie finally pauses to take a breath, but loses some momentum and starts to show some flashes of the grimness to come as the village shaman introduces the main plot (if you can call it that) involving the Sankara Stones.

Movie Glossary
Macguffin: A plot device that motivates the characters or advances the story, but the details of which are of little or no importance otherwise. Example: The Sankara Stones.

“Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.”

The journey across the jungle to Pankot is nothing more than an excuse for lots of gags involving Willie, with a dash of added explanation about the legend of the stones thrown in for good measure. I'm still not really sure what the stones actually do though.

Classic Indy Moment #10 - The gross-out feast at Pankot Palace. On the menu: snake surprise, cockroaches, eyeball soup, and of course, chilled monkey brains. There is actually some important exposition going on between Indy and Chattar Lal about the Thuggee Cult, but it is kind of hard to pay close attention while dry heaving.

Let the flirting between Indy and Willie begin over a bowl of fruit. Noctural activities. Mating customs. I wonder if Spielberg used some of these same lines to woo Kate Capshaw in real life.

Classic Indy Moment #12 - The Spike Room. This scene is a lot of fun, and seems to be one of the few parts of the movie that Spielberg hasn't disowned.

They are probably the least deadly, but for some reason, I think the bugs are worse than the snakes and rats. Willie having to reach into a small bug-filled hole to release the spikes is enough to make anyone squeamish.

At last we make it into the Temple of Doom. Enter Mola Ram.

“Kali ma....kali maaaaa.”

Classic Indy Moment #13 - The heart scene. Need I say more? Well actually I do have more to say. It’s probably a good thing I didn't see this movie when I was any younger because it most certainly would have given me nightmares. The chest pillaging antics of Temple of Doom somehow manage to top the shock of the face melting scene at the end of Raiders. Hello PG-13! Ah hahahahahaha!

Kristen just jumped about a foot out of the love sac when that "Thuggee thug" popped up from behind the rock to capture Willie and Short Round.

More exposition about the stones as Mola Ram interrogates Indy. Apparently having all five stones will help the Thuggee Cult become all powerful and rule the world. I don't think Mola Ram really knows what the stones do either, other than providing some nice ambient light while inside his oversized novelty skull.

I bet the Maharajah had been wondering if he was ever going to get the chance to put his leather jacket and fedora clad voodoo doll to good use.

As he is overtaken by the black sleep of Kali, Harrison Ford channels how it felt getting unfrozen from carbonite in Return of the Jedi.

"Borum. Borum. Borum subidum..."

Phew, that fire snapped Indy out of his trance. It's definitely for the best as Harrison Ford just isn't very convincing at being evil. That's more like it, he is much more at home beating up on bad guys with a big stick.

I need to remember to include a handy trap door under my throne that I can slip through while laughing maniacally if I ever get around to building my own Temple of Doom. You know, as a summer home.

"Indy, let’s get out of here."
"Right...ALL of us."

The movie begins to emerge from the darkness and gets back to being Indiana Jones as they set the slave children free. A little known fact (that is probably actually a well know fact)—the Slave Master that Indy battles on the conveyer belt is the same actor that played the burly Nazi soldier in Raiders.

In addition to causing Indy excruciating back pain, the Maharajah's Indy voodoo doll also has the power to prevent the Raiders March from kicking in on the soundtrack.

After giving it some serious thought, getting pulled into a stone crusher would definitely be a worse way to die than getting chopped up by a propellor. Much more drawn out.

Classic Indy Moment #14 - The mine car chase. Why has no one ever made a rollercoaster based on this scene? I'm pretty sure it be better than the E.T. ride, even if E.T. does call you by name at the end.

Classic Indy Moment #15 - Crossing the rope bridge, with what else but hungry (and frisky) crocodiles waiting below. This scene features many of the most memorable quotes from the movie:

“You are in a position unsuitable to give orders!”
"Drop them Dr. Jones. They will be found. You won’t! Hahahahaha!"
“Hang on lady, we going for a ride.”
"Mola Ram...prepare to meet Kali...in HELL!"
"Indy! Covah your heart!

Oops! Indy’s harness is clearly visible as Mola Ram falls and lands on him from above.

The betrayed Shiva causes the Sankara stones to light up and set Indy’s handbag on fire. As Mola Ram grabs one of them, he gets burned, loses his grip on the bridge, and falls to his death. So, does anyone know what the deal with these stones is?

Was that an unprecedented third Wilhelm Scream as Mola Ram gets chomped by the frisky crocs?

Indy manages to safely climb to the top of the cliff while saving the last Sankara Stone. We won’t see this much gratuitous giggling again until Frodo wakes up in bed at the end of Return of the King.

“Now you can see the magic of the rock you bring back.”
“Yes, I understand its power now.”

Glad someone does.


ScottBoomer said...

This movie is one of my all time favorites. I love Willie screaming and that little kid cracks me up.
You failed to mention the sword and gun gag in this one.
You mentioned it in "Raiders" where he just shoots the guy with the sword. In "Temple" he is faced with another man with a sword reaches for his gun only to find that it's not there.

robmba said...

I'm not sure the opening sequence of any movie can match Raiders.

Erika said...

They actually have made an Indy ride with the coal cart. I don't remember where it was, but I remember it because I was sitting on the end and I almost fell out as we went around a curve. They also had the rock rolling towards you from Raiders on that ride, and you dive right under it. Very fun, I just wish I remembered where it was at!

Dave said...

Well there is the Indy ride at Disneyland, but that is riding in a jeep, not a mine cart. Not sure if that is what you are thinking of or not.

Ben said...

I vividly remember our family renting this on VHS when I was pretty young and watching it as a family one Friday night over dinner. You can imagine how that went. I don't think we made it past the human sacrifice scene. I also remember my mom being furious that it was rated PG, and declaring that PG stands for "Pretty Gross" (thankyou mom!).

We later got a recorded version off of tv and it became the overlooked middle child Indiana Jones movie (hey, just like me!)—the only one we didn't own on VHS. But since it was recorded off tv, there was a huge portion at the end that was cut out (due to some poorly-timed commercial cutting on our part), starting right around the part where Indy tries to save the children and ending with the rope bridge scene. So needless to say, I was very excited to get the box set a few years ago, it was like seeing brand new Indy footage!

So Temple of Doom holds a place dear in my heart, mostly for having the guts to be so totally different from what you would have expected following Raiders of the Lost Ark, but especially because my mom didn't like me watching it.

Dave said...

I bet your mom was so grossed out at that ill-fated dinner time viewing of Temple of Doom that she couldn't even finish her chilled monkey brains.

Reema said...

The movie is offensive to Indians. I think Spielberg/Lucas should apologize for such portrayal.