🇵🇱 Steve G 🇵🇸’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's not very often these days that I review films without having watched them that same day, or the day before if I'm feeling particularly lazy, but it struck me that there are a fair few films that I still haven't reviewed that I could easily do out of the memory of having seen them many times.
Temple Of Doom had an extremely thankless task following on from Raiders Of The Lost Ark, of course, and even today it still garners its fair share of disappointed reviews. But I do like to champion under-appreciated sequels to outright classics - Jaws 2, Magnum Force, Predator 2, and even Airplane 2 are all films that I think have a large amount of merits to them and are films that just happened to be unfortunate enough to follow on from iconic and widely loved originals.
In fairness, Temple Of Doom probably has a lot more love for it than all the films that I have named above but I can see why people would not take to it. For a start, the film does not exactly help itself by following on a search for the Ark Of The Covenant and rollicking battles with Nazis with the search for a pebble with some lines chalked on it and a diminutive sidekick having a brawl with a kid wielding a bloody voodoo doll.
But back in the 1980s Steven Spielberg could take a pretty weak concept and plot base and still turn it into something very entertaining indeed. That is what he does here, and it's hardly as if he manages it without putting his foot in it on a couple of other occasions either. Ke Huy Quan is far more irritating here than he would go on to be in The Goonies and is a complete pain in the arse, and much the same could be said for Kate Capshaw - a real step backwards after the spunky role that Karen Allen was gifted and thrived with.
Mola Ram isn't much of a baddie either considering that Indy was having to wade his through all but the Fuhrer himself in the preceding film, but there are so many cracking action scenes here and moments of humour that I can quite easily forgive all that. The opening nightclub free-for-all is brilliantly chaotic and the action hardly lets up before Indy's plane is abandoned and they are left to escape via a suspiciously gravity friendly rubber life raft. Temple Of Doom is certainly at its very best when chaos ensues.
The end fight on the rope-bridge, both intact and subsequently knackered, is quite mad by the standards of action adventures like this while the fight in the mine before the escape via mine cart is also enjoyably manic. When the film slows down it unfortunately gives a chance to Capshaw to open her trap and start being annoying again and no amount of amusingly disgusting banquets can quite cure that problem.
The sacrifice scene is one that I didn't even get to see uncut until a couple of years ago, excised as it was from video releases over here as distributors understandably baulked at the film getting a 15 certificate and with no 12 certificate yet available. It's probably a bit unnecessarily strong for what is, really, a kids' action adventure, but I think people forget that the previous film pushed the envelope in several ways when it came to violence. That bar near the beginning especially springs to mind even before the melting faces and so on and so forth.
Spielberg deserves a lot of credit for pushing this kind of film into areas that adults could enjoy just as much as kids and even though it really isn't a patch on the original, or arguably on its sequel, it is still for me one of the very best films of its type of a decade that was swimming in great action capers.