This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Lord_Salmon’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"Nice try, Lao Che!"
- Indiana Jones's triumphant declaration, thinking he has evaded Lao Che.
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom is one of my favourite films. Of course, five stars to some may be an overtly high score for this Spielberg adventure story, but it is one of my guilty pleasure films which has a huge degree of delightful nostalgia. From start to finish, there is plenty to be enjoyed in Harrison Ford's second outing as the intrepid, resolute and fearless archaeologist Indiana Jones, who is pitted against a dastardly cult intent on harnessing the power of three powerful ancient stones.
The first sequence of this film is hugely enjoyable, with the glamorous setting of a luxury, eloquent and wealthily oriented Shanghai restaurant. We are first introduced to a fresh-looking Jones, a few years prior to his adventures against the Third Reich in the first film. This time around, he is dressed up in an expensive, tailored tuxedo donning a neatly cut head of hair and a vibrant scarlet rose on his lapel. We soon learn about a deal Jones had brokered with local crime lord Lao Che, offering him a priceless Chinese artifact for a stunning, equally valuable diamond.
Devious Che doesn't play ball, though, and spikes Indy's martini with some kind of poison, forcing Jones to reconsider his situation, instead bargaining for the antidote over the diamond. When Che's man shoots Jones's s own accomplice, the adventurer throws a flame doused kebab starlight through the henchman's chest, starting off a manic chain of events that sees him delivering punches, scrambling across the floor and hiding behind a huge gong. Soon, he escapes with a new female partner, Willie Scott and makes his getaway with young street urchin Short Round.
The gang make it to an airport, with Jones proclaiming his escape to a watching Che, not realising the vehicle is the gangster's own. They soon are left standed over the Indian countryside when the pilots ditch, fleeing on a flimsy life raft before encountering a group of mysterious villagars whose children have been kidnapped by a local cult.
For fortune and glory, Jones decides to rescue the children and the precious stones for the populace, heading off to the the great Palace to get some answers. He is initially greeted with politeness and formalities, but when he figures out what is really going on, the cult turn on him. Indy becomes a shirtless, derranged follower of creepy boss Mola Ram, but is saved by Short Round before beating the living daylights out of the thugs (squashing one in a roller), commandering a mincart and participating in an epic bridge over crocodile-infested water showdown.
The action is consistently brilliant, Harrison Ford is just perfect as the reputed, steadfast and always awesome Indiana Jones, with Kate Capshaw putting in a good show as petrified but resilient performer-turn-heroine Willie Scott. A Spielberg classic, with fine sets, a gripping narrative, and all the gun-slinging, whip-swinging, fedora-wearing tropes that make this franchise exuberant with excellence.