Film Reviews, Short Review

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)


Or: Indian Jones and the Curse of the Extremely Annoying Racist Caricatures. Temple of Doom is frequently labelled as the worst of the original trilogy, and rightfully so. The two sidekicks here are just downright annoying. Karen Allen in Raiders may have been little more than a plot construction, but at least she had charisma and toughness. Kate Capshaw here is reduced to little more than a screaming, useless princess, betraying all the worst elements of casual Hollywood misogyny. The quality of the set-pieces is also lower overall, although the Shanghai opening and the mine-cart battle are highlights. But you know what? I kind of admire Temple of Doom for being the most blatantly racist of the series. From your standard-issue Chinese street urchin sidekick to your pleading starving brown folk clamouring over your white saviour to your evil brown people doing human sacrifice, I find it amusing just how little thought Spielberg and Lucas put into their depictions of other peoples here. When it’s this in-your-face, it’s hard to do anything other than laugh at the absurdity of it all, and then cry when you remember that the same fool also directed Schindler’s List not 10 years later…


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