Something strange happened to Steven Spielberg between "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and its first sequel, three years later. Having captivated the world with feelgood fable "E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial", he decided to test the loyalty of his adoring public with this dark, nightmarish follow-up to his 1981 smash. Indeed, so gruesome was one scene of ritual sacrifice that it necessitated the creation of a new rating - PG-13 - in the United States.
Perhaps more unsettling, however, is the film's patronising depiction of Indians as either brainwashed religious maniacs or helpless peasants in need of a white messiah. That role is taken by Indiana Jones (Ford), after he bails out of a pilotless plane above the subcontinent and agrees to recover a sacred stone that's been stolen from a village by the evil Thuggee cult.
Thankfully, there's plenty of rip-roaring action to distract us from the more unpalatable elements, including a breakneck underground mine-cart chase and a frenetic fracas in a Shanghai nightclub. Along the way, Kate Capshaw (the future Mrs Spielberg) gets to sing "Anything Goes" in Cantonese, while Vietnamese newcomer Ke Huy Quan makes a shrill debut as obligatory cute kid Short Round.
For all that, you can't help feeling there's something a little nasty, even sadistic, going on this time around. Witness the scene where Ford and friends are invited to chow down on a banquet of sheep's eyeballs and monkey brains, or the sequence where the director covers wife-to-be Capshaw in hideous insects.
Great fun in places, but hardly Indy's finest hour.