Indiana Jones’ Short Round Actor Ke Huy Quan Responds To Criticism About Temple Of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has always been a hot topic in the world of film. When it was released it was controversial because it was rated PG, and because of this issue, it went on to be one of the films that sparked the creation of the PG-13 rating according to the behind-the-scenes facts on Temple of Doom. However, now many decades after its release, the issues lie more in how the film represented indigenous people and women. Now, one of the film’s stars Ke Huy Quan, who played Short Round, is responding to the claims that the film is problematic. 

For some context, since Temple of Doom’s release in 1984, it has been accused of racism and playing to the trope of the white savior, as The Guardian wrote. The film shows Indiana Jones helping an indigenous tribe to get a sacred stone. It also includes a few infamous scenes like the dining room sequence with the chilled monkey brains and the sacrifice scene where a heart is pulled from a living man’s body. On top of this the one principal female character, Willie, is shown in a way that can be perceived as sexist, as she's helpless and useless. These points were brought up to Quan in his interview with The Guardian, and he responded by saying: 

We’re talking about something that was done almost 40 years ago. It was a different time. It’s so hard to judge something so many years later. I have nothing but fond memories. I really don’t have anything negative to say about it.

This is a fair point, this movie is a product of its time, and back then the problems we have with it now, were likely not issues filmmakers had in mind. However, it's still important to consider why aspects of this movie could be problematic today.

Along with rebutting the claims of the film being problematic, Quan also made the point that his character was groundbreaking for Asian representation in film. He said: 

Spielberg was the first person to put an Asian face in a Hollywood blockbuster. Short Round is funny, he’s courageous, he saves Indy’s ass. That was a rarity then. For many years after that, we were back to square one.

Clearly, this project still means a lot to Quan, who ended up taking a long break from acting before coming back to star in the 2022 movie schedule breakout Everything Everywhere All At Once. And I totally get it, while there are some scenes in the movie that are questionable today, his point about Asian representation in the film shows there are other aspects that have been impactful in a positive way.

You can see the actor's admiration for Indy in these quotes, but Quan’s love for the franchise and its star Harrison Ford has been on full display this year. This was especially true when the two had the most adorable reunion after 38 years at D23. The Short Round actor later detailed the reunion, saying he didn’t know if his legendary co-star would recognize him, but he did and Ford embraced Quan in a massive hug. 

So, while the content of the movie may be a bit problematic today, there are still so many aspects that mean a lot to many, especially those who made the film. Lucky for us, there is another Indiana Jones film on the way, however, Quan is sadly not in it. Although, based on his clear admiration for the franchise I’m sure he will be in the theaters with all of us when Indiana Jones 5 hits theaters next year. 

While we wait to see Harrison Ford return to one of his most iconic roles, you can watch him in the Yellowstone prequel 1923, and you can go back and watch some of Quan’s best movies, including his most recent film Everything Everywhere All at Once. And if you want to see the two actors together again you can watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as well as the other Indy movies with a Paramount+ subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.