Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
by James Kahn
Published by Ballantine Books
Adrick's Rating: 3 out of 4
The swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones is back in a dazzling new adventure!
The time is 1935.
Through a series of misadventures in Shanghai—and a narrow escape from death—Indiana Jones finds himself in a remote village in India. A mysterious old shaman tells him his arrival has been foreseen—and that he and his and companions are destined to save the villagers.
So begins the most daring—and dangerous—quest of Indiana Jones’ career!
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has been unfairly condemned as the worst film of the original trilogy. Personally, I enjoy the movie more every time I watch it. At the time it was released it may have been a jarring follow up to the relatively lighthearted Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the movie has the high adventure, horror and humor that are Indy’s trademarks in abundance.
Lucasfilm couldn’t have picked a better author to adapt this tale. James Kahn, also wrote the novel for another unfairly maligned Lucas picture, Return of the Jedi, brings quite a bit more to the Temple table then what was shown onscreen. Although I love Temple of Doom, I’ll be the first to admit that the supporting characters like Short Round were badly written and annoying at times. (“Feel like I step on fortune cookies,” anyone?) But Kahn does an excellent job of deepening his character. The scenes from Short Round’s point of view show a perception of reality interpreted through a weird but believably childlike combination of Chinese mythology, American movies, and baseball. His family, mentioned only briefly in the film as having been killed in a Japanese attack, are never far from his mind. Knowing what’s going on in Short Round’s head definitely made the movie more interesting for me.
Kahn also describes in horrible detail exactly what being in the “black sleep of Kali Ma” is like, and includes a scene which shows Short Round discovering that fire is the only way to break the spell of Kali. This scene was inexplicably deleted from the film. Kahn also makes it clear that the savage banquet held at Pankot Palace was a sign that something was terribly wrong with its inhabitants, rather than a cheap gross-out scene at the expense of another culture, which is unfortunately how it comes across on film.
There is really very little that is wrong with this book, and most of it is due to the film it was adapted from. (See the “fortune cookie” comment above.)
Flayed human skins. Ugh.