Harrison Ford
10 Images

‘Indiana Jones’ and the Rip-offs of Doom

Harrison Ford
By Patrick Kevin Day, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

When he debuted in 1981, Indiana Jones was never meant to be a wholly original character. He was a throwback, an homage to the cliffhanger heroes of yesteryear. His appearance and personality owed a debt to everyone from Humphrey Bogart to James Bond. But somehow, from out of those purposely unoriginal seeds, formed something that was unique. And when Hollywood finds something unique -- espeically when it does the kind of business Indiana Jones did -- it gets copied and cloned and ripped off in every way imaginable.

To see just how influential Indiana Jones became, take a look at these pretenders to the bullwhip. Then read the Times’ review of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” (David James / Associated Press)
Allan Quartermain
‘King Solomon’s Mines’ (1985) and ‘Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold’ (1987)

Indy replacement: Allan Quartermain (Richard Chamberlain)

The rip-off: Though Allan Quartermain isn’t a complete Indy rip-off (the character has been around in H. Rider Haggard’s novels since 1885), this film version gleefully lifts as much as it can from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Quartermain has the whip, the gun, the bickering love interest (played by pre-fame Sharon Stone), the clever quips and even co-star John Rhys-Davies. Unfortunately, these films from the 1980s cheapo factory of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus forgot to steal the wit, charm and spectacle of the Lucas productions. (Cannon)
Firewalker
‘Firewalker’ (1986)

Indy replacement: Max Donigan (Chuck Norris)

The rip-off: Consider director J. Lee Thompson and producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus the Spielberg and Lucas of cheapo knockoffs. After their collaboration on “King Solomon’s Mines,” they re-teamed to take the Indy rip-off into the present day. And with the casting of Chuck Norris they did Harrison Ford one better -- they added lots of kicking. But aside from the modern trappings and feet of fury, this hunt for lost treasure features lots of of Indy-like touches. More bickering in the face of danger, angry natives and ancient Mayan temples with lots of booby traps. Plus, Sallah himself, John Rhys-Davies makes an appearance as well. Check out the trailer(Cannon)
Sahara
‘Sahara’ (2005)

Indy replacement: Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey)

The rip-off: Known more for its under-performance at the box office and author Clive Cussler’s lawsuit aginst the producer than for any onscreen excitement, this is the most recent of the Indy rip-offs, though it came so late in the cycle that it could conceivably be seen as a rip-off of the later rip-offs. Matthew McConaughey plays a marine engineer and explorer searching for a missing Civil War-era ironclad. The action and stunts are pure Indiana Jones, but the added environmental theme is definitely an unwelcome sign of the times. (Keith Hamshere / Paramount)
Romancing the Stone
‘Romancing the Stone’ (1984)

Indy replacement: Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) -- the T stands for trustworthy.

The rip-off: Yes, this movie probably wouldn’t exist without the success of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but that shouldn’t be held against it. It’s the best of the post-Indy adventure movies, and no wonder -- Spielberg protege Robert Zemeckis directed it. The South American milieu was reminiscent of the opening of “Raiders,” and the broken-down bridge sequence and Jack’s ability with a machete echoed “Temple of Doom,” released the same year. (Twentieth Century Fox)
Bring ‘Em Back Alive
‘Bring ‘Em Back Alive’ (1982)

Indy replacement: Frank Buck (Bruce Boxleitner)

The rip-off: The real-life Buck lived long before Indiana Jones existed, but in a move to cash in on Indy’s success CBS quickly developed this series based very loosely on the life of the famed big-game trapper. So a guy who spent the 1930s making documentary films on wildlife was transformed into a swashbuckling government agent, going off to exotic locales to carry out dangerous missions for the U.S. Though his uniform was very un-Indy (jodhpurs and a pith helmet), his swaggering attitude was pure Jones. (CBS)
Mummy
‘The Mummy’ (1999)

Indy replacement: Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser)

The rip-off: Unlike most Indiana Jones follow-ups, this semi-remake of the 1932 original “Mummy” picked up Indy’s inevitable involvement with all things supernatural -- in this case a cranky 3,000-year-old old Egyptian high priest. The one-liners, the gun, the bumbling sidekick and the tendency to always be in over his head were all new to Universal’s “Mummy” series, but anyone with a passing familiarity to Indiana Jones felt right at home. (Frank Masi / Universal Pictures)
Tales of the Gold Monkey
‘Tales of the Gold Monkey’ (1982)

Indy replacement: Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins)

The rip-off: Exotic locales in the 1930s, Nazi villains and a dashing adventurer (in a leather jacket) recruited by his government to carry out dangerous assignments -- pure Indiana Jones. Though producer Donald P. Bellisario originally pitched the series in the late 1970s, it didn’t see the light of day until after “Raiders” hit. Like “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” the same year, this adventure series lasted only a single season. (ABC)
Tomb Raider
‘Tomb Raider’ (2001)

Indy replacement: Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie)

The rip-off: Arguably the most famous of the Indiana Jones knock-offs, Lara Croft began life as a video game icon before making the leap to the big screen. The game (and film) locations were pure Indiana Jones -- lost temples and caves located in jungles and mountaintops -- but what helped make Lara Croft unique and beloved in her own right were her acrobatic skills (fun to control in a game) and her, ahem, womanly physique -- which was very popular with male gamers and moviegoers. As an archaeologist, Croft was also one of the few Jones rip-offs to share his actual profession. (Alex Bailey / 20th Century Fox)
Relic Hunter
‘Relic Hunter’ (1999)

Indy replacement: Sydney Fox (Tia Carrere)

The rip-off: This syndicated TV series, about an American university professor and archaeologist who travels around the world to bring back obscure and dangerous artifacts, was frequently accused of being a blatant “Tomb Raider” rip-off, even though it resembles the Indiana Jones films more than anything else. Like Indy’s, Sydney Fox’s adventures always took a little bit of actual history as the springboard into the kinds of adventures you wish happened in your history books. (Aaron Rapoport, xx)
1/10