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Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom PosterB.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Robert Watts
Written by Story:
George Lucas
Willard Huyck
Gloria Katz
Starring Harrison Ford
Kate Capshaw
Ke Huy Quan
Amrish Puri
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Editing by Michael Kahn
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) United States
May 23, 1984
United Kingdom
June 15, 1984
July 19, 1984
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States En US-orig.gif
Language English
Budget US$28,000,000
Gross revenue $333,107,271
Preceded by Raiders of the Lost Ark
Followed by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Official website
Allmovie profile
IMDb profile

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a 1984 adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. Released on May 23, 1984, it is the prequel to the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The film stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, and was based on an original story by George Lucas. Many members of the original crew returned, including cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, editor Michael Kahn and composer John Williams. New additions to the main cast included actress Kate Capshaw, who played the role of Wilhelmina 'Willie' Scott (Jones's second female lead following Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, in Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Jonathan Ke Quan as Jones's 11-year old sidekick Short Round. It won an Academy Award for Visual Effects.

Featuring themes of child slavery, and destructive cult rituals, the film is darker in tone than its predecessor. The original story was intended to be a horror movie as well as a remake with elements of Gunga Din (1938). The original title was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death.

The film is also notable for being instrumental in the creation of the rating category PG-13.[1]


Set in 1935, a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film opens with Indiana Jones in a Shanghai nightclub, attempting to trade the remains of the Chinese ruler Nurhaci to gangster Lao Che in exchange for a large diamond. When the deal goes bad and Indy's friend Wu Han is killed in the ensuing violence, Indy and the club's singer, Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott, escape the pursuing criminals in a car driven by a young boy named Short Round, an ally of Indy. They board a cargo plane, not knowing that it is owned by Lao Che. As Indy, Willie, and Short Round nap during the flight, the pilots dump the fuel and parachute out of the plane. Indy and the others use an inflatable emergency raft to descend safely from the plane before it crashes into a mountain.

After a dangerous ride down the Himalayan mountains and a raging river, the trio eventually come to a desolate village in India. The poor villagers there enlist their help in retrieving a sacred Shiva lingam stone, as well as the community's kidnapped children, from the evil forces of nearby Pankot Palace. During the journey to Pankot, Indy hypothesizes that the stone may be one of the fabled Sankara Stones.

Pankot seems normal enough at first, despite the grotesque food eaten by its guests. Indy meets the royal tenants and other guests, including Captain Blumburtt, an officer in the British Indian Army who is in the area with his troops on exercises. The residents are insulted by Indiana's questions about the villagers' claims, dismissing them outright. Later that night, however, Indy is attacked in his room by a would-be assassin, which leads him to seek and find a secret door. He, Willie, and Short Round make their way through the passage and discover a vast underground temple beneath Pankot, where the village rock and two others are held by the Thuggee, an evil cult who worship the goddess Kali with human sacrifice. The rocks are indeed three of the original five Sankara Stones; the Thuggee have enslaved the village's children to dig for the last two, lost within the mines of the palace. Mola Ram, the cult's villainous high priest, hopes to use the power of the five united stones to rule the world. During the revelation, the protagonists witness a gruesome sacrifice ritual in which Mola Ram bare-handedly digs a man's heart out of his chest. The man survives, his heart beating in Mola Ram's hand, until he is lowered slowly into a lava pit.

Indy, Willie, and Short Round are captured by the Thuggee and separated. Indy is forced to drink the "Blood of Kali," a mind-control potion which puts the drinker into a trance called the "Black Sleep of Kali Ma," and begins to serve Mola Ram. Willie is kept as a human sacrifice, while Short Round is put in the mines alongside the village children as a slave laborer. Soon, though, Short Round frees himself and escapes back into the temple, where Willie is about to be sacrificed to Kali. He burns Indy with a torch, shocking him out of the trance. Although Mola Ram escapes through a trap door, Indy and Short Round manage to save Willie, take the three Sankara Stones, and free the village children. In the fight to escape the palace, the three jump into a mine cart and are closely pursued by two Thuggee-filled carts.

Mola Ram and his men break the supports of a giant water reservoir, pouring the contents down the tunnels in an attempt to drown the three heroes. After Indy stops their mine cart, they avoid the rushing water by running outside, only to find themselves stuck on a narrow ledge at the top of a sheer canyon. They try to cross a rope bridge, but are soon boxed in with Mola Ram and the Thuggee approaching from both ends. Taking a desperate gamble, Indy utters a warning in Chinese to his friends to brace themselves. He then uses a sword to cut the bridge in half, sending many of the Thuggee plummeting into the crocodile-infested river below.

Mola Ram and a few of his minions manage to cling to the heroes' side of the bridge. As he and Indy fight over the stones, Indy invokes their magic; two of them fall into the river, followed by Mola Ram when he is unable to hold onto the third. The priest is promptly ripped apart and devoured by crocodiles. Thuggee reinforcements on the opposite side of the canyon, who have been trying to shoot the heroes down, are stopped by the timely arrival of Blumburtt and his Indian riflemen. Indy, Willie, and Short Round triumphantly return to the village with their sacred stone and the missing children.


Steven Spielberg and George Lucas attributed the film's tone, which was darker than Raiders of the Lost Ark, to their personal moods following the breakups of their respective relationships. Lucas made the film a prequel as he did not want the Nazis to be the villains once more, and had ideas regarding the Monkey King and a haunted castle, but wound up creating the Sankara Stones.[2] He hired Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz to write the script as he knew of their interest in Indian culture.[3] The major scenes that were dropped from Raiders of the Lost Ark were included in this film: an escape using a giant rolling gong as a shield, a fall out of a plane in a raft, and a mine cart chase.[4] Just as Indiana Jones was named after Lucas' Alaskan malamute, Willie was named after Spielberg's cocker spaniel, and Short Round was named after Huyck's dog.[5]

Shooting began in Sri Lanka, with Kandy used for the village set.[3] Harrison Ford hurt his back riding elephants, so stuntman Vic Armstrong spent five weeks as a stand-in for various shots.[2] Production was primarily based at Elstree Studios, occupying eight out of nine soundstages as well as using the last one as a workshop. A second unit spent six days shooting elements of the Shanghai car chase in Macau[3] and producer Frank Marshall directed another second unit in Florida, using alligators to double as marsh crocodiles.[2] Additional shooting of the Mammoth Mountain and Tuolumne River were also done for elements of the raft scene. Ford again suffered back pains during the Elstree shoot and was admitted to a hospital in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, Spielberg completed the film five days short of the 85 day schedule and within the $28 million budget.[3]

Spielberg and Lucas wanted to continue to use the presence of "creepy crawlers" in the series. So, after the work with thousands of snakes in the previous film, this time, they went for bugs. Many large, exotic (and harmless) bugs and worms were used in the catacomb sequence.


Actor/Actress Role(s)
Harrison Ford Indiana Jones
Kate Capshaw Wilhelmina 'Willie' Scott
Jonathan Ke Quan Short Round
Amrish Puri Mola Ram
Roshan Seth Chattar Lal
Philip Stone Captain Phillip Blumburtt
Roy Chiao Lao Che
David Yip Wu Han
Ric Young Kao Kan
Chua Kah Joo Chen
Raj Singh Little Maharajah
Rex Ngui Maitre d'
Philip Tan Chief Henchman
Dan Aykroyd Art Weber

Stunt actor Pat Roach — who appeared in two roles as large, muscular henchmen who fight Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark — also appeared three times in this film: first as the man banging the gong in Club Obi Wan, then the assassin in Jones's room and again as the slavemaster in the mines. Besides Ford, he is the only cast member to return for the second film. He also had a cameo appearance in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom made $179,870,271 ($30 million less than Raiders) when it was released theatrically in the United States in 1984, making it the third biggest hit of 1984 (next to Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop).[6] The movie received mixed reviews from critics. Those who spoke positively of it include Roger Ebert, who believed the film was "... one of the greatest Bruised Forearm Movies ever made."[7]

The film was released on VHS several times in the 1980s and 1990s and then on DVD in October 2003 where it was packaged with the previous and later films in the series at the time. It was released again in May 2008 with special features not seen in the previous DVD release.


Some fairly gruesome scenes in Temple of Doom, as well as, to a lesser extent, other PG-rated films of the time such as Gremlins caused a significant public outcry. Spielberg spoke to the MPAA about creating a new rating that would cover the middle ground between a clear PG and a clear R that his films often found themselves on. This led to the creation of a new rating category: PG-13. (See: History of the MPAA film rating system)

The film's depiction of Hindus caused some controversy in India, and brought it to the attention of the country's censors who placed a temporary ban on it.[8]

The film won an Academy Award for Visual Effects. Both Lucas and Spielberg have stated that Temple of Doom was focused on effects to a higher degree than either Raiders of the Lost Ark or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The film has a 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Suzanne Weyn wrote a novelization which was released on May 1, 2008. Hasbro will release a toy line based on the film in September 2008.[9]


Main article: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (soundtrack)


  1. Breznican, Anthony (2004-08-24). PG-13 remade Hollywood ratings system. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Temple of Doom: An Oral History", Empire Online, 2008-05-01. Retrieved on 2008-05-01. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Template:Cite book
  4. Template:Cite video
  5. Gregory Kirschling, Jeff Labrecque. "Indiana Jones: 15 Fun Facts", 2008-03-12. Retrieved on 2008-03-15. 
  6. 1984 Yearly Box Office Results. Retrieved on 2007-03-24.
  7. Ebert, Roger (1984). Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (review). Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. Gogoi, Pallavi (2006-11-05). Banned Films Around the World: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. BusinessWeek.
  9. Edward Douglas. "Hasbro Previews G.I. Joe, Hulk, Iron Man, Indy & Clone Wars",, 2008-02-17. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. 

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