Title: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Language: English, Hindi, Sinhalese, Cantonese
Genre: Action, Adventure
Director: Steven Spielberg
Music: John Williams
Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe
Jonathan Ke Quan
Finally catching up with the second installment of INDIANA JONES franchise from the very first time, over three decades, it surprisingly doesn’t feel dated, on the premise that if one can disregard its shameless exploitation and derision of the exotic Indian culture (cuisine) and religious belief, which has become a normalcy for the ever-avaricious industry.
After an efficient prologue in Shanghai 1935, where a deal routinely goes awry between Jones (Ford) and the local crime boss Lao Che (Chiao), he is dumped airborne (thanks to a ridiculously fanciful utilization of an inflatable raft) from a crashing plane to Northern India with his sidekick, a 11-year-old Chinese boy Short Round (Quan) and a saucy night club singer Wille Scott (Capshaw), whom he just met. Contrary to the present trend of globetrotting in the adventurous blockbusters, Spielberg sticks to a simple plan for the trio, which is to retrieve a sacred Sivalinga stone stolen from a destitute village, by the evil forces dwell in the nearby Pankot Palace, lead by the high priest Mola Ram (Puri), who possesses 3 of the five Sankara stones (the Silvalinga one included), conducts the human-sacrifice ritual to the goddess Kali (which is a huge blasphemy towards Hindus), also exploits child labor to mine for another two stones.
Spielberg expertly anchors a roller-coast journey for Indy and company, once the trio enter the secret channel inside Willie’s room, booby traps, mind-controlling potion and a man’s heart being ripped out the body while still remains alive, rather a grisly image for a PG picture, it is also a plot device doesn’t get further explanation in the thrilling cat-and-mouse chase, which unfortunately backfires when Scott is put in the same fate but her heart is wondrously exempt from such a gruesome treatment, thanks to the inattentive script-writing. Then come the famous chase scenes on a mine cart, still a thrilling ride even we have already seen a more grandiose upgrade in THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012). Finally, a face-off on a rope bridge with crocodiles waiting for their quarries to fall from the sky, all the set pieces mesh together adequately, so as a whole, it is a valid commodity produced with the cutting-edge technology in its era.
Ford is a charming chap in his utter prime, an omnipotent hero image with vast appeal, he can fight vigorously, banter casually, and seduce effortlessly. Capshaw, the future Ms. Spielberg, is typified as an impudent, priggish and whiny westerner dragged into a foreign country, waiting to be astonished by the exotica and scream from the top of her lungs, a cheesy eye candy serves as Indy’s love interest and a laughing stock, which prompts one wonder why in general, there is rarely any recommendable female characters among all Spielberg’s works? Jonathan Ke Quan , sports a fluent American English, but supposedly a Chinese boy from Shanghai, is literally the game-changer in the film, it is him who miraculously comes to Indy’s rescue not once but twice in the crunch (no matter how inane it is) and never retreat from the front-line (even though it is hard to buy his posturing kung fu dexterity), together with Ford, they clink a strong father-and-son rapport, he should be the bona-fide successor of Indy’s legacy and audacity, far more qualified than Shia LaBeouf in the dismal INDIANA JONES AND KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008), his real blood heir.