We continue the revisting of the Indiana Jones film series with the second film – 1984’s The Temple of Doom. In addition to being, in my opinion at least, the best of the series, this film also has a couple of firsts to its name – it was the first film to be rated PG-13 (once a badge of honour, now kind of a kiss of death given the “softening” of the rating in recent years) as well as the first film to be officially labelled a prequel.
Much like Raiders, this is a film that I’ve not seen in over a decade (hell, the last time I saw it was on a VHS tape), so lets see if it holds up as well as the first, shall we?
Set a year prior to the action of Raiders, Temple of Doom sees Indy (this time backed up by Short Round, a Chinese orphan; and Willie, a nightclub singer he meets in Shanghai) in the wilds of India crossing paths with a cult who want to rule the world, at the behest of a local village whose children the cult have kidnapped. Accidentally(?) stumbling on a blood ritual to the goddess Kali (hey, no-one ever said that these things were learning tools) lead by the sinister Mola Ram, who has taken the children to help him mine for the rest of a series of stones that he needs to give the power to rule the world, our heroes must escape not only with their lives, but the lives of the children.
I said at the start that this is my favourite film in the series, and it holds as true now as it did then. Filled with just as much action and adventure as Raiders, Temple of Doom manages to up the ante by adding some horrific elements to the mix as well, with the addition of the Thuggee cult (the scene where Ram pulls the heart from the chest of a hapless sacrifice, while not as scary as it was when I was a kid, is still pretty damn dark). Hell, even the addition of a Gumption Magee love interest, and worst of all, a wise cracking kid, can do nothing to dull the brilliance of the film – thankfully, they prove themselves useful and aren’t just there to get a chick and a kid into the mix.
While this film doesn’t introduce as many iconic elements as its predecessor, it does still give us a more than a few memorable scenes – in addition to Mola Ram and his aforementioned heart removal scene, you do get the awesomeness of the mine cart escape, which still holds up to this day. In fact, everything to do with the Thuggee temple is memorable, introduction to escape – Spielberg and his crew managed to make an amazing bunch of enemies for Indy to square off against, ones that even managed to top those in the first film.
Once again, this is a film that manages to hold up as well as anything could.