The Temple of Doom – A Movie Retrospective

May 23, 2016


Ah, 1984 was a good year. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was one of the movies released. It was so intense, that it helped usher in the new PG-13 rating. This PG-rated adventure had hearts being manually removed from chests and catching on fire. I still remember my dad raising his hand to shield my eyes. Wow! What a freaky movie, for being PG! Sometimes, some stuff slipped under the radar and showed up on a PG-rated movie that should have upgraded it to an R-rating, but this movie took PG to a whole new level. There were probably a number of other PG-rated movies that helped bring about PG-13, but this was the movie that really made it happen.

At the time of release, this movie was notable as a rare case of a “Prequel”, taking place a year prior to the previous movie. (This movie takes place in 1935, while Raiders takes place in 1936.)

The music is pretty good, just like the first movie.

The bad guys are wonderfully bad. The secret passage lined with thousands of insects are perfectly creepy. The kid actor is slightly less annoying than normal kid actors. The action scenes are fun.

In fact, I wish the Chinese Nightclub scene was longer. I found it to be a very fun, classic-Indiana-Jones adventure segment. The tommy gun and the gigantic gong were a lot of fun, and the whole scene of chaos was terrific.

The love interest was pretty much as annoying as the kid actor. There were actually a couple of kid actors in the film. The Indian kid had less screen time than the asian kid, but I found the Indian kid to be more enjoyable and watchable. The Indian kid even gets a good bad-guy moment (under a spell or other form of mind-control.)

Speaking of children, this movie showed child slavery, which was pretty heavy for a PG-rated movie. That will probably stick in the craw of parents more than the whole heart-ripping horror.

Even as a child, I could see the dubious effects. They were effective for the time, but I could still tell fake from reality. The “chest” from which the heart was pulled was obviously fake. It did not act or bleed like torn skin. At least it didn’t look like yellow paper or something equally low-rent. Additionally, the scene where Indiana cuts the track-change lever doesn’t seem to make sense. I had to force myself to believe it by saying to myself that the lever “bounced” back into position after being cut by the shovel. Of course the rocks that fall, leaving our heroes clinging to a cliff-face pull you right out of the movie. there really wasn’t anything else they could do to improve the effect. The rocks that fall just don’t “belong” to the color palette of the scene, so they stick out like grey thumbs. If they were painted brown to look like they were covered with the mud pouring out of the mineshaft to which they were attached, that would have helped immensely.

I did appreciate the call-back scene where Indy faces a pair of swordsmen, and tries to reach for his revolver, only to find an empty holster. That, and the classic Indy grin he gives to those swordsman when he realizes the depth of his predicament reminds you that you are indeed watching an Indiana Jones movie.

So all in all, it was a fun adventure movie. Three disembodied-hearts up!