Sunday, 25 October 2015

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

"I had bugs for lunch..."

I wasn't sure whether or not I'd seen this film before but I must have done; the memories all came flooding back as a watched it. It's a good film, if less so than its predecessor, and exciting as ever. 

I suppose we can't avoid the inevitable questions about an arguably negative portrayal of India- I mean, Thuggee in the twentieth century- and an implicit endorsement of colonialism, showing a semi-independent Princely State to be rather beastly and having Britain's Indian Army act as the cavalry at the end. And yes, those are valid points. But I think we should account for the fact that this is an American film, not a British one. The USA is not India's former colonial ruler, nor does it have anything like the number of people of South Asian extraction who live in the UK. Perhaps we can forgive them for some cultural sensitivities that we would not accept from the British, much as we forgive them for the stereotypical character of Apu in The Simpsons.

Anyway, the film starts in 1935, making it a subtle prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and there are no Nazis to be seen anywhere.we begin with a nice little sequence in treaty port Shanghai before the action shifts to India by means of a delightfully entertaining plane crash which is one of the best sequence in the film. Alongside Indy are his stubborn love interest Willie- I bet that have some angry sex- and Short Round. I'm guessing a lot of people must find Short Round annoying, but I like him. He's cool, and by acting as Indy's surrogate son he softens and humanises the character.

Our hero is soon directed to save all the children of his host village from the temple of the title, and that's where the fun really starts. The meal, with the various living bugs, snakes, and the eyeball soup, is great fun. Soon, though, there is exploring,and the booby trap see know and love. We learn that the baddies are Thuggees, that their chief priest can tear out a man's heart with his bare hands(!), and that the rotters are using children as slaves. There's a final awesome chase scene before our heroes face a climax where they all end up trapped on a bridge over a chasm, facing death just like Danny in The Man Who Would Be King.

Still, there's no stopping Indy. The film ends with the village saved and Indy doing kinky shit to Willie with his whip. Oo er.

It's a fun film, packed with incident and crammed with cliffhangers. It's not as good as its predecessor, perhaps, but enormous fun nonetheless. And the location filming in Sri Lanka and then-Portuguese Macau looks gorgeous.

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