Franchises of All Time
The "Indiana Jones" Films
Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom (1984)
Indiana Jones Films
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) | Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) | Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Film Plot Summary
Set in the year 1935, the film opened in Shanghai, China, where famous blonde American nightclub singer Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott (Kate Capshaw) (Indy's romantic love interest) of Club Obi-Wan (homage to Star Wars) was singing an English/Chinese version of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" - a lavish, sultry, and bizarre production number bathed in reddish smoke, reminiscent of a Busby Berkeley choreography. Famous archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) was in the audience at the table of Chinese crime boss Lao Che (Roy Chiao), demanding payment (a large and precious diamond) for his services in obtaining Lao's royal ancestor - the "remains of Nurhachi, the first Emperor of Manchu Dynasty" - his cremated remains were in a jade urn.
The hood double-crossed him - he poisoned Indy's cocktail drink and then bargained to exchange a life-saving antidote for the diamond. An epic melee broke out in the nightclub involving revolvers, machine guns, a struggle to obtain the diamond and the antidote vial (both being kicked around on the floor), ice cubes, and black and white balloons everywhere. Willie (with the vial) and Indy escaped behind a giant rolling brass gong, and jumped from a window of the multi-storied building to an awaiting luxury car/taxi below. Driving the car was Indy's diminutive ten year-old Chinese sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) - the chase continued through Shanghai's narrow streets and back alleys as they were fired upon.
At the airport, the threesome boarded a Pan American Airways propellor plane, believing it was bound for Siam. However, it was actually Lao's air-freight plane piloted by his hoods. As they slept in the back of the plane during the flight, Lao's pilots dumped fuel from the plane and then parachuted to safety ("No one's flying the plane!" Willie screamed). The aircraft began to sputter and lose altitude, and then went into a tailspin. To save themselves, Indy transformed an inflatable emergency rubber raft into a parachute when they were forced to abandon the plane over the Himalayas to avoid crashing. They landed on a sloped, snowy mountaintop and used the float as a tobaggan to sled down the steep incline. The yellow dinghy plunged off a steep cliff into wild river rapids - where the raging river took them to the base of the Mayapore hills in East India.
They were guided by elderly shaman Sajnu (D.R. Nanayakkara) to the ominous, burned-out, desolate, cursed village of Mayapore filled with poor and starving villagers, where they were informed that at Pankot Palace ("with the power of the Dark Light"), there was a new maharaja: "It is that place kill my people...The evil start at Pankot, then like monsoon it moves darkness over all country...They came from palace and took Sivalinga from our village" - the village's strange, sacred, and precious mystical stone. A Shiva lingam (possibly one of the five lost Sankara stones "with magical properties") had been stolen from their shrine, and the village had been under a curse of famine and misery ever since. The village's wells dried up and the river turned to sand. The crops were swallowed by the earth and the animals laid down and turned to dust. A fire set in the fields was a diversion, allowing the evil Maharaja's men to steal the village's children. The shaman believed that the threesome were providentially sent there by the Hindu god Shiva to retrieve their sacred stone ("Bring back to us"). Indy wasn't convinced and only wanted to hurriedly get to Delhi to return to his university teaching in America, until he heard about the stolen children and witnessed the appearance of an escapee from the evil palace - a weakly boy named Ranjit. He surmised the stolen stone might be one of the five fabled Sankara stones, meaning "fortune and glory" and changed his mind: "We're going to Pankot Palace."
They traveled through the jungle and other tropical landscapes to Pankot Palace via elephants and with the assistance of local guides. Outside the palace perimeter, a ghastly, bloody Shiva shrine scared off the guides and elephants. Forced to walk to the palace, they were welcomed by Prime Minister Chattar Lal (Roshan Seth) and British Captain Phillip Blumburtt (Philip Stone) of the Indian Army, there on a "routine inspection tour." And then they met His Supreme Highness - the 13 year-old Maharaja of Pankot Zalim Singh (Raj Singh). During conversation at a grotesque banquet feast - of snake filled with live eels, giant fried tandoori beetles, eyeball soup, and chilled monkey brains for dessert, discussion centered around the historical existence of a bloodthirsty Kali Thuggee religious cult (practicing human sacrifice) in the area. The Prime Minister downplayed Indy's concerns the villagers voiced about the theft of a sacred rock ("They're just fears and folklore") and his assertion that the rise of a new Thuggee cult was responsible.
When retiring for the evening, there was a brief romantic scene of confrontational dialogue between Indy and Willie (involving "mating customs, love rituals, primitive sexual practices") before an assassin (Pat Roach) intruded and unsuccessfully attempted to strangle Indy. The hero searched around and discovered a fake wall, opened by pushing a statue of a bare-breasted goddess, that led to a secret dark passageway. He entered with Short Round to find lots of disgusting insects underfoot, and bones of corpses. Trapped in one of the chambers that was booby-trapped, sharp spikes from both the ceiling and floor began to converge on them. Willie heard their screams for help ("We're in trouble") and reluctantly came to help rescue them ("Bet I get all dirty again") - saving them from death by releasing a handle - and they all escaped the death-trap chamber through another opening.
After twisting through tunnels, they uncovered a subterranean Temple of Doom, and from a concealed distance, observed - in horror - a Thuggee religious cult ceremony to appease the Hindu goddess Kali. A large statue of the bloodthirsty goddess Kali held three glowing sacred stones in its altar (within the eye sockets and nose of a giant skull). One of the stones was the one which was taken from the village. The ritual was led by demonic high priest Mola Ram (Amrish Puri), who ripped the still beating heart out of a human sacrifice victim (Nizwar Karanj) and held it up in his right hand; the screaming victim remained alive and was lowered into a red-hot magma pit where he was incinerated, along with his flaming heart still in Mola Ram's hand. According to Indy, the rocks were glowing according to legend: "When the rocks are brought together, the diamonds inside them will glow."
When the temple was vacated by the worshippers, Indy decided to retrieve the three sacred Sankara stones from within the altar below the statue. He also spied upon an underground mine, where enslaved (kidnapped) children were employed as mine workers to dig for the remaining two stones. Indy and Short Round were captured by Thuggee guards and thrown in a caged-cell together. Afterwards, Indy was brought before Mola Ram - who described his evil cause: to use children as diggers in the mine to locate the other two sacred stones hidden in the catacombs - in order to release their power: "The Thuggees will be all powerful...Soon, Kali Ma will rule the world." While his mouth was forcibly held open, the blood of Kali was poured into Indy to put him under an evil spell and nightmarish crazed trance ("The black sleep of Kali Ma") - and he began to serve the High Priest (who also had placed the 13-year old Maharaja under the same spell).
Meanwhile, Short Round was forced to work in the mines with other children. At the temple pit before the Kali statue, Willie was bound and readied for sacrifice, with Indy in a trance chanting ("Kali Ma protects us. We are her children. We pledge our devotion to her with an offering of flesh - and blood") as he served Mola Ram in preparations for her death - to lower her in a metal cage into the hot magma pit. Short Round daringly cut off his own chains and was pursued through the mines to the temple's sacrificial pit, where he purposely burned Indy with a fiery torch thrust painfully into his side, causing him to "wake up" from the crippling "black sleep" spell - and save Willie at the last minute from being roasted alive. Indy, Willie and Short Round were able to take the three Sankara stones, free the enslaved mine-working children (who stormed the palace) and break the spell controlling the young maharaja (who was dispatched to get support from Captain Blumburtt's military forces).
During an exciting, rollercoaster-like mine-cart chase, the threesome attempted to make their way out of the underground chambers while hotly pursued by the Thuggees. Mola Ram's followers released a gigantic tidal wave of underground cistern water into the mine's passageways to flood them out. Propelled by the rushing water to an open tunnel exit, they emerged onto a small ledge on the side of a massive rock-cliff face. After scaling the crumbling wall to escape the water pouring out of it, their only means of survival was a rickety rope bridge above a crocodile-infested river gorge that was guarded by Ram's Thuggees. Trapped in the middle of the bridge, Indy cut it with a machete (as he told Mola Ram: "Prepare to meet Kali... in hell!"), leaving everyone dangling. Most of the villains fell to their deaths, as Indy fought against Mola Ram for possession of the three stones in his satchel. Indy invoked a chant (translated: "You betrayed Siva"), causing the stones to glow red hot in the bag. Two of the stones fell into the river, and the third burned Mola Ram's hand as he grabbed for it, but he was forced to let go and fell to his death into the river where he was consumed by the hungry crocodiles. Indy caught the cooled stone and was able to climb to safety. The Thuggees were subdued by the arrival of British Army riflemen.
In the film's epilogue, the group returned to the revitalized village of Mayapore, accompanied by the missing children, and restored the sacred, magical, powerful stone in its rightful place on the small altar. Willie told Indy: "No more adventures with you, Dr. Jones," to which he replied: "Sweetheart, after all the fun we've had together?" As she walked away, he roped her around her waist with his bullwhip, pulled her close to him, and attempted to kiss her - although they were doused with water from a baby elephant's trunk. The camera pulled back as they were joyously surrounded by village children after a more successful smooch.
Great Scene(s): the fight scene in the Shanghai nightclub, a thrilling ride down the Himalayan Mountains on a roaring river, the controversial scene in which Mola Ram grabbed a victim's still-beating heart from his chest before he was consumed in a burning lava pit, the rescue of Willie from a human sacrificial ritual as she was being lowered into the fiery pit, a mine-cart pursuit-chase in the abandoned underground mineshaft, and Indy's final climactic battle against Mola Ram for the three Sankara stones on a rickety rope bridge above a crocodile-infested river gorge.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
Not strictly a sequel but a prequel, since the action occurred in 1935, a year earlier than the previous film.
An inferior, darker, more violent, and relentlessly-active remake that paid homage to Gunga Din (1939). The opening logo of Paramount Pictures (a jagged mountain surrounded by clouds) turned into a large brass oriental gong.
This film inspired the creation of the MPAA's PG-13 rating.
Also, it was the film that introduced Spielberg to his future wife Kate Capshaw, sometimes viewed as a miscast character in the film.
With two Oscar nominations: Best Original Score and a win for Best Visual Effects.
With a production budget of approximately $28 million, the film grossed approximately $180 million (domestic) and $333 million (worldwide).
The main religious icon or artifact: the Sankara Stones, sacred Hindu stones.
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