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Top 10 Indiana Jones Moments

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake Nobody does adventure better than Indy. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Indiana Jones Moments. For this list, we're taking a look at the most fun, innovative, and iconic moments from the “Indiana Jones” franchise. Also, as you can expect, we will be discussing some crucial plot points, so a SPOILER ALERT is probably in order. Special thanks to our user historybuff or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Indiana Jones Moments


Nobody does adventure better than Indy. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Indiana Jones Moments. 

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most fun, innovative, and iconic moments from the “Indiana Jones” franchise. Also, as you can expect, we will be discussing some crucial plot points, so a SPOILER ALERT is probably in order.

#10: Indiana Jones’ Origins
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

Even as a Boy Scout, Indiana Jones demonstrated the makings of a true adventurer and archaeologist. When a group of grave robbers uncover Coronado’s golden crucifix, Indy snatches the artifact so it can be preserved in a museum. In an inventive chase across a circus train, the filmmakers sum up Indy’s entire origin story. We see why he’s horrified of snakes, how he became so handy with a whip, where he got that scar across his chin, and of course where he got his legendary fedora. River Phoenix hits just the right note, making the audience truly believe he’s a young Harrison Ford. 

#9: Mine Cart Chase
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

There’s nothing like a good, old fashioned mine cart chase, especially when it involves Indiana Jones. Swinging into a cart, Indy flees from his attackers with Willie and Short Round. Unfortunately, taking the right tunnel was the wrong decision, as they’re sent on a deadly rollercoaster ride. With Mola Ram’s men hot on their tail, the trio race for their lives across the rickety tracks. Just when it looks like they can catch their breath, however, a flood almost sends them to a watery grave. From start to finish, it’s an exhilarating sequence that clearly had a significant influence on “Donkey Kong Country.” 

#8: Motorcycle Chase
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008)

Indy’s fourth adventure wasn’t exactly his best outing, but it isn’t without a few stellar moments. This sequel’s best sequence is a rousing motorcycle pursuit where Indy teams up with Mutt, played by Shia LaBeouf. Driving around Marshall College, the two attempt to give a couple of KGB agents the slip. Where the film’s other set pieces utilize pre-visualization, stunt coordinator Dan Bradley mapped out this chase with storyboards. Steven Spielberg also improvised much of the action on set. Humorous, whimsical, and not heavily reliant on CGI, this scene truly takes us back to Indy’s glory days. It even works in a nice memorial to Marcus Brody.

#7: Tank Battle
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

This scene has several elements that make for an epic chase, such as trucks and horses. The key ingredient here, however, is a tank that holds Marcus and Henry captive. Thanks to Indy’s clever maneuvering, the tank ironically hurts the Nazis more than anyone else. Aside from the well-choreographed vehicle combat, this scene also incorporates some gunslinging and a hand-to-hand melee. Just as the audience is left on the edge of their seats, the tank is sent over the edge of a cliff. While it appears Indy has met his end, he manages to hang on for dear life and shares a heartfelt reunion with his father. 

#6: Opening the Ark
“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

There are some things in this world not meant for mortal eyes… but it seems that’s a lesson the villains in “Indiana Jones” movies never learn. Throughout Indy’s original journey, the audience is left wondering what’s inside the Ark of the Covenant. We finally get to see the Ark’s contents in the film’s climax, but Indy and Marion know to look away. It’s a good thing they resist temptation, as Belloq and his men meet a ghastly fate as they unleash angels of death. Demonstrating some of the best and freakiest effects in the entire franchise, the Nazis are melted to a fiery pulp. 

#5: Cutting the Bridge
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

Indiana Jones has gotten himself into countless seemingly inescapable situations. This is a prime example, as Indy and his friends are cornered on a rope bridge. With both sides guarded, our hero creates a third option by cutting the bridge in half. With bone crushing crocodiles waiting at the bottom, this move is completely crazy, if not suicidal. Indy miraculously survives the manoeuver, but has yet another near-death experience as he clings to the bridge’s dangling remains. It all comes down to a thrilling final confrontation where Indy sends Mola Ram to meet his end. That’s what he gets for betraying Shiva. 

#4: He Chose… Poorly 
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

In order to reach the Holy Grail, Indy must complete three stages. The first stage challenges Indy physically, the second stage puts his wits to the test, and the third requires him to take a leap of faith. But even after all that, a final stage awaits. Meeting a really, REALLY old knight at the end of the line, Indy must single out the real Grail from a few dozen other chalices. Donovan and Elsa join Indy, entranced by the myth of the Grail, and the deceptive Elsa convinces the villainous Donovan to drink from a golden cup. This scene is full of hair-raising tension, first-rate effects, and strong atmosphere, all of which lead up to Indy’s ultimate decision.  

#3: Human Sacrifice
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

This second entry in the Indy franchise is cited as one of the films that caused the establishment of the PG-13 rating. Watching this horrifying scene, we can definitely see why. Indy and the gang stumble upon a hidden ceremony, which looks like hell on earth. Complete with satanic scenery, the menacing Mola Ram rips out a man’s heart right out of his chest. As if that’s not graphic enough, the human sacrifice is then lowered into a flaming pit! It’s understandable why this scene scarred the kiddies for life. For the older audiences, however, it’s still heart pounding.

#2: Shooting the Swordsman
“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

The “Indiana Jones” movies feature some of the most extravagant and over-the-top set pieces in cinema. So it’s kind of ironic that one of the stand out moments in the franchise is actually pretty anticlimactic. When a gifted swordsman confronts Indy, it looks like we’re in store for a stimulating duel. Since Harrison Ford had come down with a serious case of diarrhea, though, he convinced Steven Spielberg to just let him shoot the sucker. On the one hand, this could be viewed as lazy. On the other hand, it’s hilarious, unexpected, and wonderfully exemplifies what makes Indiana Jones such a unique hero. 
 
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?
“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

- Dinner with the Maharajah 
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

- Anything Goes
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

- DON’T Call Me Junior 
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

- Bumping into Hitler
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

- Tied Up in Fire
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)
 

#1: Temple Escape
“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

This legendary opening has phenomenal buildup as Indy slowly walks towards and snatches a golden idol. It seems like his dodge has worked at first, but of course the adventure is just getting started. This endlessly creative set piece throws everything at our protagonist: darts, collapsing doors, giant boulders. Even after our hero escapes from the temple, he can’t catch a break. Chased by a tribe, Indy just barely makes it to his plane when he finds his greatest fear: a snake. The scene perfectly embodies the spirit of Indiana Jones, gets the ball rolling and never slows down.
 
Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite “Indiana Jones moment”? For more entertaining Top 10s published everyday, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com. 
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