Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

My Favorite Scene: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) “Bridge Battle”

Before Crystal Skull, if there was a weak link in the Indy series, it was 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (now it looks like a masterpiece).  Set before Raiders, because Lucas convinced Spielberg that Jones should be like Bond with a different girl in every film.  The original second movie was going to revolve around Karen Allen’s father, Indiana’s mentor, but Lucas wanted to do something darker.  George was going through a divorce and one of the darkest periods of his life, so instead of meeting Marian’s family, we got a Kali death cult in India that kidnapped children and performed human sacrifices.  Dark times for George.

Dark enough that the violence in Temple of Doom upset so many parents that the MPAA created the PG-13 rating directly as a result of this film (which is pretty tame compared to most PG-13 films now, but good luck getting the MPAA to do anything about revising the ratings system).  I can’t stand Kate Capshaw’s incessant screaming, and the opening club/musical number kind of makes me wince, but you can’t deny the awesomeness of Short Round and a number of the action pieces, especially the iconic mine car sequence, but the best piece in the film is Indy’s stand on the bridge.  It’s one of the best moments in the series, hands down.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Poster

14 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) “Bridge Battle””

  1. I always quite enjoyed Temple of Doom. It is cheesy and definitely not to be taken seriously, but there are some decent enough moments and the film rolls along at a nice pace. But the bridge sequence is very cool. I always have to wonder why none of the bad guys grabbed hold of the rope when they noticed their hostages tying themselves to it but that’s bad guys in Indiana Jones movies. Not exactly logical.

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      1. I lean toward the scene where he’s being driven through campus and he’s literally turning into his father before the audience’s eyes. It’s one of the few good moments from that movie. I think I need to get an old fridge just in case, given tensions internationally, they’re nuke-proof, y’know?

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      2. It’s a good moment, but you just pointed out that THIS scene is in Temple of Doom. The sad truth is that even the best scenes from Crystal Skull are a reach. The film is sad. Fridges are not reliable, George presented Steve with tons of research that supposedly proved a heavy duty one would survive a blast a certain percentage of the time, but I’m not buying it. We all would have heard about the bomb shelters in our kitchens. Let’s all pray.

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      3. Dave, I don’t think either part of that comment came off as I intended.

        I was not actually praising that stupid scene in the car.

        It’s important to me that you recognize that you have been talking to someone who sees just how bad Crystal Skull is. Now that it is out on Blu Ray, it is no longer a film, but a Frisbee.

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      4. Dave, I actually slept last night, and for much of today, after months of not. Please forgive this insomniac if his comments have seemed like they’ve been getting darker and weirder. He is not an idiot, he has simply not been operating on any sleep.

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  2. TOD is not a weak link. It comes out of nowhere after you’ve seen Raiders, and the fact that it is studiously different is what sustains Indy through a whole trilogy. It breaks up Raiders and Last Crusade, which have the same general tone and structure. It is a perfect middle film. And it is deleriously fun, weird, nightmarish. Indy drinks blood that turns him into a zombie. And to think most sequels seek to dull the edges of thier hero. Steve didn’t just take a gamble, he threw his hands up. Capshaw is an annoyance but no worse than Threepio in the best SW movie. And so not Marion Ravenwood. Her opposite. Variety. The opening number works because it’s unexpected. Anything Goes, like the whole movie.

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    1. I like it better than I used to, but it’s a wildly erratic film, and it doesn’t tie 1 and 3, it’s just tonally different. I wish Spielberg had made his movie instead of going with Lucas’s divorce doldrums, but whatever; the bridge scene is crucial. Kate Capshaw is SO MUCH MORE ANNOYING THAN THREEPIO! In the LEGO Indy video games, the only thing her character does is scream and break glass with a sonic shriek. It’s literally all she’s good for, which is accurate.

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      1. Of course I don’t know how you first experienced TOD, but think it helps to have been a kid, experiencing the cavernous darkness in a theater and not knowing what was hitting you. I like the unexpected. I love sequels that forge their own ways, as long as they hit the necessary notes, and TOD does. But it is a lurid, lurid film (I cannot believe I just repeated that word for emphasis) and I can’t really argue with people who can’t quite get with it, because it’s not a film I would expect everyone to embrace. I hear your reservations.

        Kate works because the film is so over the top, because monkey brains are eaten and hearts torn out, and there’s a kid driving the car. In Raiders or Crusade she would have been death. Here, I accept the caricature.

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