Classic Scenes #6: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

If only the rail carriage escape and rope bridge standoff of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was an indication of the quality of the rest of the film. Unfortunately, the 20 minute sequence that culminates in Indy trying to avoid an untimely death above crocodile infested water that could quite possibly be the best bit of spectacle in any of the Indiana Jones movies, is far too good for the movie it’s in. Temple of Doom was the evil child of the Indiana Jones trilogy until the awful fourth movie arrived. It’s unfair to call it a bad film though – it isn’t – it’s just not nearly as good as films number 1 and number 3 because it forgets that Indy’s adventures are supposed to be light hearted, swashbuckling fun with plentiful helpings of irony (okay, we get quite a bit of irony but we could have done without the self-indulgence).

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Fear not though as the film still has some trademark set-pieces, and frequently outdoes the other films for one-off action sequences. There’s the unforgettable inflatable boat escape from the plane, the bone-crushing falling ceiling and all those real life creepy crawlies, the chilled monkey brains and snake surprise banquet, and of course the escape along the underground mine railway line.

Just as Indy manages to stop the rail carriage carrying Willie and Short Round after its breaks fail, Indy’s foot setting on fire from the friction, a flapping Dr. Jones calls for water. WATER! Oh, isn’t it ironic, and rather amusing, that on that note a flood of life-threatening proportions hurtles towards our intrepid hero sending him and his band of merry men (the boy and the girl!) on a charge for the nearest exit. But, unfortunately, (and Indy should realise that high jinks follow him round like moths to fire) the exit is a cavernous opening on a mountain side a hundred feet above hungry crocodiles awaiting their lunchtime feed. After some careful manoeuvring they all end up on a crotchety rope bridge that hangs precariously over the yet-to-be-fed crocs.

Let the story begin…

indiana jones and the temple of doom

indiana jones and the temple of doom

indiana jones and the temple of doom

indiana jones and the temple of doom

indiana jones and the temple of doom

indiana jones and the temple of doom

Buy the Indiana Jones films on DVD: – DVD box set | – Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom DVD | – DVD box set | – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom DVD

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Marc Reply

    “could quite possibly be the best bit of spectacle in any of the Indiana Jones movies, is far too good for the movie it’s in.”
    Awesome point. I recently rewatched the trilogy and think that they were far more ambitious in this film and although it gets a lot of flack for being the second weakest of the series, there was so much awesomeness that you can suspend asking questions like “why do all the slave kids speak English?”, “How does the Thugee cult happen to have a trap door right above the Earth’s core?” and “did all the plants grow back in that little village the night before Indy brought the stones back?”.

    I’m actually going to use the rail escape scene in an upcoming post about “Scenes I Could Watch Oer and Over and Over”…seems that despite Willie and chilled monkey brains it wasn’t a terrible film people make it out to be (even though chronologically it’s a prequel to Raiders).
    Great post Dan!

  2. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    It was something that I probably knew before but only really made a point of after watching the film recently. There are many great set-pieces (some of the best from the Indy series), it’s just a shame the film doesn’t have the quality of Raiders or Last Crusade. I still think it’s a really good film but it’s in competition with two of Spielberg’s best so the comparison does show up its weaknesses.

  3. Avatar
    Katie Reply

    I swear I’m the only person in the world who really likes this movie. In fact for a long time it was my favourite of the trilogy (it will never be a quadrilogy, that fourth one was jstu a bad dream, it doesn’t count.)
    I’m not sure what my favourite is now, but I really do have a soft spot for Temple of Doom. It’s darker than the other movies and there’s less Nazi cliches running around.

  4. Avatar
    rtm Reply

    I LOVE the talk bubble! Good one, Dan. Indy 2 is my least fave of the franchise though, but I remember liking this scene a lot.

  5. Avatar
    George (@CallMeSirPhobos) Reply

    Hah, I do love the rope bridge stuff, and the heart-ripping. I just think most of the rest is crap.

    And, yea, I don’t think it would have ever crossed my mind to just cut the rope.

  6. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    I love Temple of Doom. It’s one of the ballsiest films ever made imo. Once they get into the secret passage way in Willie’s room, the action never lets up; EVER.

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