Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
With Raiders nearly 400 million at the worldwide box office, it was a foregone conclusion there would be more adventures from Indiana Jones. Even at conception, George Lucas had bravely suggested he had James Bond beat with a hero that could go on to many adventures, and had in fact convinced Spielberg he had at least three in mind. He didn’t.
When it came time to figure out what to do for what was then known as ‘Raiders 2’, Lucas wanted to separate the film entirely from its predecessor. By making it a prequel, the film could jettison the Nazis as villains and free the story from needing to connect to the original, making it its own beast.
And what a beast it would become. Raiders’ scribe Lawrence Kasdan was not enthused with the direction his producer and director wanted to take. Both had just suffered the end of their respective relationships, and both have admitted feeling rather dark at that period of their lives. With Empire Strikes Back freshly in the can, Lucas felt that just as the second chapter in the Star Wars saga had been a darker film, so too would Indiana’s second outing.
Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, again frequent Lucas collaborators, took on the writing chores, which would see Indy face off against a Thuggee cult guilty of child slavery, black magic, sacrifice, and designs on world domination. Kasdan’s sense of joy in Indy’s peril from Raiders isn’t present in this adventure. There is a decidedly darker, meaner agenda underpinning this outing, which off put some, but for others this film delivered in creating a truly compelling and visceral sense of peril for our favourite hero.
Indy is crash-landed in India by a Chinese enemy, with a spoilt lounge singer and a resourceful little Chinese boy in tow. There they find a starving village, their children stolen, and a story of a palace of evil nearby, responsible for all their pain. They ask Indy to retrieve a sacred rock for them, stolen by the Thuggees, to restore prosperity to their home.
While what follows—from the gross out dinner scene to the heart-ripping sacrifice—is a marked leap into the grotesque, compared with what came before, this film gives Indy a mission that ultimately shows him in arguable his most selfless light. While the line ‘fortune and glory’ is bandied about throughout the movie, and Indy himself does nothing to dissuade that perception, his motivations really cement him as the hero we would all like to be.
Temple of Doom really kicks Indy’s ass, both emotionally and physically. His iconic outfit suitably represents the toll on him, come this adventure’s end, torn to shreds across his bloodied and battered lean form. His supporting cast is very different from Raiders; Willie Scott is the polar opposite of Marion Ravenwood—a whining, high maintenance blonde completely ill-equipped for Indy’s world—someone, after Marion, audiences had trouble believing Indy would fall for. And instead of Salah, we get a plucky kid, Short Round, who serves as great comedy relief, but also as a set up character to show Indy’s compassion for children before he saves a whole bunch of them. Willie is often the centre of negativity, but in the interest of presenting something different from what came before, she serves her intended purpose, whether you like her or not.
During production, while filming a fight scene, Harrison Ford herniated his back so badly he could barely walk. It is amazing to watch the final battle, before the mining cart chase, and know that Harrison Ford isn’t there for anything but the close ups—it was stuntman Vic Armstrong for the bulk of it. You’d never have guessed it.
The action and set pieces in this film really up the ante in terms of their frenetic pacing and intensity. The mine cart chase, a leftover from Raiders’ development, and the bridge scene are classic moments in the series, and two of the best white knuckle moments in the entire franchise. Violence is more graphic in this one, and put off some parents, but this Indy fan has always argued that if you wish children to see violence, then displaying the consequences of those acts is far more effective in dissuasion than some sanitized, glorified version of it that just looks cool.
330 million dollars later, Indiana Jones had once again proven a box office champ, only this time universal adoration eluded Indy. This time, he got accused of sexism, racism; the film was one of the pictures responsible for a new rating: PG-13, due to parents’ complaints of its inappropriateness for younger children (I was 8, and loved it); but ultimately it overcame any negativity to become a respected entry in the franchise. It made be the ugly stepchild of the four for Spielberg, it may not be anyone’s favourite, but it’s still a damn good Indy picture.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Finally presented by Paramount in glorious HD, it must be noted that the films all look great, with the original three enjoying a brand new gloss to their film stock. This is definitely worth the upgrade from the DVD releases a few years back. Each film is presented in 1080p high definition with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that honors the source sound with bombastic tones.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There is a noticeable upgrade in the overall sharpness and color saturation in the film. The matte work is outdated and absolutely looks worse than ever due to the high definition resolution, but the photography is crisp and looks almost like a modern production. Faces are detailed and realistic and the temple scenes are simply filled with fine details. Again, reds take a lot of heat and often are too intense with over saturation. Black levels are solid and wonderful detail is present during the darkness.
They blew it, folks. There is nary a commentary on any of these discs. Definitive? Hell, no. Prepare to shell out more dough in the near future.
This franchise means a lot to audiences everywhere. For over 31 years, the character of Indiana Jones has been a part of our popular culture. There’s no way this set – a long time coming – could satisfy everyone. Aside from some pretty awful packaging with each disc housed snugly inside a pocket within the book pages, leaving them vulnerable to scratching and fingerprints, the set is a nice beginning to what will probably be re-released next year in single packaging (with director’s commentary). The binding is tight and the packaging is sturdier than most. It’s cool, but I am always a bit wearisome of having to slide a disc into its sleeve. While the four discs don’t contain any supplemental material, there is a bonus disc that houses everything you ever need know about the making of these films.
The seven hours of supplemental material almost makes you forget the lack of commentary. Although, very little of it is new. If you’ve owned the DVD set, you know most of the featurettes already. There’s really no point in rehashing those. The new supplemental material takes the cake. There is a documentary of new bonus features for Raiders, mined and rescued from Spielberg’s archive. There are a lot of new behind the scenes footage, on-set footage and alternate takes; all previously unseen. The two individual featurettes, titled “From Jungle to Desert” and “From Adventure to Legend” are interesting in their depth of information and their display of the on-set giddiness that was a part of making this character so charming. Everyone is happy and excited and I miss those days. The Bonus features are presented in standard and high definition (as indicated below) in English with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
- On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
- From Jungle to Desert
- From Adventure to Legend
- The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 documentary previously unavailable)
- The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
- The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (HD)
- Behind the Scenes ?The Stunts of Indiana Jones
- The Sound of Indiana Jones
- The Music of Indiana Jones
- The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones
- Raiders: The Melting Face!
- Indiana Jones and the Creepy Crawlies (with optional pop-ups)
- Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups)
- Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute
- Indy’s Friends and Enemies
- Iconic Props (HD)
- The Effects of Indy (HD)
- Adventures in Post Production (HD)