"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" stars Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, and Amrish Puri. Released on May 23, 1984, the film has Indiana Jones and his companions stumbling upon a Thuggee cult while searching for a mystical stone.
The film is directed by Steven Spielberg, and it is the second installment in the Indiana Jones franchise as well as a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. After reviewing the first Indiana Jones film last week, I figured I would review the other ones as well, starting with this. Upon its original release 32 years ago, the sequel (or prequel, in this case) to the critically acclaimed 1981 adventure film received mixed reviews in terms of the violence, the tone, and the film's portrayal of India and Hinduism. However, as the years went by, its reception had been improved to a more positive note. Looking back at this "violent" prequel, does it still retain the adventurous side that made the first film such a thrilling experience? Most likely.
Harrison Ford reprised his role as the title character as he goes on another adventure involving the missing children from Mayapore and the sacred Sivalinga stone. Although some of his dialogue felt a bit flat, Ford still delivered an impressive performance and showed us why we love his character so much. Jones is joined by two new companions this time around, including nightclub singer Willie Scott (Capshaw) and his 11-year-old sidekick Short Round (Ke Quan). Short Round is definitely one of my favorite characters in the franchise because he is loyal, funny, and always willing to help Jones in his time of need. Ke Quan did a pretty good job at portraying this lovable character and the relationship between him and Jones was very well handled and likable. As for Capshaw as Willie, well…I prefer Marion Ravenwood from the first film better. Not that Capshaw's a bad actor or anything, but her character can be a whiny brat at times. Willie is one of those film characters that can either make you tear your hair apart because of her personality or make you laugh at the way she screams. For me, it's the latter. Her screams were so over the top that it makes it hard to take her seriously. The villain in this installment is Mola Ram, played by Amrish Puri, a Thuggee priest who performs dangerous rituals of human sacrifice (by ripping hearts off) to please the Hindu goddess Kali. He's pretty terrifying and he does play a role in the classic "good vs. evil" concept like in the first film, but he comes off as generic and cliched. The visual effects and set designs were very unique and clever. Although there were a couple of visuals that felt dated, like the green screen effect, it doesn't affect the film's experience as a whole. The action is a lot more brutal compared to the action in the first film. There's so much danger involved in this installment and Spielberg wasn't afraid to showcase this kind of intensity. One of my favorite action scenes in the film was the mine cart chase sequence. It was wonderfully directed, fun, and intense.
Aside from Capshaw's character and generic villain, the film's weakness is, of course, its amount of violence. Like the first film, Temple of Doom was released before the creation of the PG-13 rating. There were some sequences that can frighten young children, such as a man being burned alive during a human sacrifice. I have no problems with the film's tone, however, because it helps balance the fun and the danger without being too silly. Other than that, it's best that you keep your kids away from it until they're at least seven or eight years old.
Overall, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" may come off as a violent PG-rated film, but in terms of the performances, its amount of intensity and adventure, and its impressive visuals and set pieces, it's the type of sequel that still holds up to this day. Despite being a small step down from its predecessor, it's still worth a recommendation to those who enjoy Indiana Jones.