Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★½

While I've seen all three Indiana Jones movies, I realized recently that this was the only one that I've only seen once. I first saw the series when I marathoned the three VHS tapes over a weekend as a kid, but I didn't like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom one very much. I don't remember much, besides Kate Capshaw's character getting on my nerves and the scene where a dude gets his heart ripped out. But it's been 25 years since I first saw it, and it seems like its reputation has gotten improved for some reason. I've never seen it on DVD on blu-ray anyhow,

And yeah, I still don't like it.

The opening Shanghai fight sequence is great, and I'll admit that the last 30 minutes with the mine cart chase and fight o the bridge was a blast. The production value is great, in HD the matte paintings and rear projection work becomes a lot more obvious, but for the era it's top notch.

But this one just zips along way too fast at first, with no time to breath until the trio reaches the village. It's disorienting how the whole deal with Roy Chaio's character Lao Che is dropped and now it's now a totally different and unrelated adventure. Sure Raiders did the same thing, but the opening sequence with the idol was also a way to also introduce Indy's rival Belloq. And despite this film's reputation for being the "dark" one, there's a ton of awkward slapstick as well.

It wouldn't be a dealbreaker, except that Capshaw's Willie Scott torpedoes the whole thing. Spielberg and co wanted the female lead to be the polar opposite of Marion Ravenwood, and a diva singer totally out of her element makes sounds good on paper. But they forgot to make her more than a one-note character. The damsel-in-distress shtick is fine, but she's uninteresting and doesn't add anything to Indy or Short Round's character.

Precocious kid sidekick characters can be annoying, but Short
Round isn't too egregious IMHO. I think it helps that it's established that he's been working with Indiana Jones before, rather than a stowaway who tries to force himself into the adventure. Sure there’s a few annoying character tics(his insistence that that everyone needs to call Indy “Dr. Jones), but Ke Huy Quan has solid chemistry with Harrison Ford on screen.

But overall I don't think my opinion of this has changed much. There's some great action, but for me the series is best when it has strong characters and drama, so Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is always going to be my favorite.

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