Study Guide

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan)

Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan)

Mini Indy

It would be easy to write off Short Round as a comic relief character, because, well, that's pretty much all he is on the surface. The website Cracked named him on the worst sidekicks in TV and film, saying he has "nothing better to do than whine, scream, spout dopey one-liners and generally get in the way." (Source)

Oof. That's harsh.

But don't worry. It isn't exactly true.

Sure, Shorty triggers the spike trap. But he later uses a torch to snap Indy out of his brainwashing. He uses the same technique to shake the Maharaja from Kali's spell. And he throws punches just like his mentor, Indiana Jones.

Shorty wants to be Indy—just like millions of movie viewers. We see Shorty idolizing Indy throughout the movie. In the village, Indy, hands clasped under his chin, thoughtfully listens to the villager elder. Shorty mimics the gesture. And when Shorty fights the Maharaja, we see him throwing punches almost in unison with Indy, as Indy grapples with a temple guard.

Also, the friendship between Shorty and Indy is the heart of the movie…which is important in a movie where hearts are literally being ripped out. Our hearts are figuratively ripped out when Indy is brainwashed and punches Short Round. However, Shorty knows that Indy isn't himself:

SHORT ROUND: You're my best friend. Wake up, Indy.

This is a touching moment, but to be fair, Short Round called an elephant his "best friend" earlier in the film. We hope the elephant doesn't get jealous.

He's a Slave 4 U

While we disagree with Cracked's assessment of Short Round as a bad sidekick, we do have a serious question: what's the difference between Short Round's employment with Indy and the child slaves in the mines?

Here's Short Round's backstory:

INDY: Shorty's family were killed when the Japanese bombed Shanghai. He's been living on the streets since he was four. I caught him trying to pick my pocket, didn't I, short stuff?

That's great. Indy is a real humanitarian. But we really want to know is, does Indy pay him? Does he get benefits? Paid time off?

Short Round's working conditions might actually be worse than the child slaves, except for the whole blood-of-Kali-Ma thing. Shorty falls out of a plane, is punched by a brainwashed Indy, attacked by a Maharaja, almost pulled from a moving mine cart, and forced to hang on to a rope bridge as Indy severs its ties. Oh yeah: on top of all that, he's actually enslaved for about five minutes.

Indy better give this kid top-notch insurance and match all his contributions into a retirement plan. But, judging from the fact that we don't see Short Round making an appearance in either Raiders of the Lost Ark (which takes place several years after Temple of Doom) or in The Last Crusade, it looks like Indy let Shorty go. Probably without a severance package.

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