Antonin Dovchenko was a Siberian high-ranking Soviet officer; a Colonel in Spetsnaz. In 1957, Dovchenko and his troop of Soviet soldiers served under the orders of Ukrainian Colonel Irina Spalko during their quest to harnass the psychic powers of the Crystal Skull of Akator in order to brainwash the minds of the American military personnel for the decisive edge in the Cold War.
During the mission, Dovchenko became driven to fight archaeologist Indiana Jones after being defeated by him at Hangar 51 in Nevada. When they met again in South America on the journey to Akator, Dovchenko decided to have his rematch against Jones during an attack of siafu ants, but this decision would cost him his life as he was devoured by the ants after Jones bested him again (albeit with a last ditch dirty move).
In 1957, Polkovnik Antonin Dovchenko led a group of Soviet soldiers to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and, as an unmarked force, they captured Indiana Jones and George McHale at a set of coastal Mayan ruins. Taking the two and a bag of Jones's recent acquisitions, he and his men, now disguised as an American army convoy, approached the Nevada military base housing Hangar 51. Under the guise of an American army officer "Colonel Truman", Dovchenko commanded the team that infiltrated Hanger 51. Pulling Jones and McHale out of the trunk of a staff car, his men stood aside as Dovchenko tried to question Jones about the building. After punching Jones in the jaw for not answering him, he was forced to give up when Spalko arrived and took over the operation.
After the Roswell remains were acquired, Jones escaped, Dovchenko caught up to the professor, and they crashed into the launch room for an experimental rocket sled. Dovchenko battled Jones, after being thrown through the glass into a control room, accidentally starting the ignition sequence. Dovchenko attacked Jones with a chain, but failed when the rocket sled activated and the two were shot out into the desert on a rail track incinerating some of Dovchenko's men in the process. The rapid speed rendered the Russian officer unconscious, and when it stopped, Jones was able to push him off the vehicle into the dirt and slipped away.
Upon recovering, Dovchenko was found by some of his men who had followed the rocket sled's trail. Getting into a jeep, he commanded a second carload of troops to hunt down and kill Jones. Dovchenko himself returned to Spalko but Jones ultimately escaped. The Russian went to Peru with Mac where they captured Jones and Mutt Williams and brought them to Spalko's military encampment in Brazil, where her quest to find Akator would begin. During the truck ride to Akator, Dovchenko became annoyed by the bickering of Jones and Marion Ravenwood, exclaiming "Oh, for love of God, shut the hell up!", before attempting to gag her, whereupon both Jones and Mutt kicked him in the head and knocked him out.
He remained unconscious in the back of the truck for the beginning of the ensuing jungle chase, but when Marion pulled alongside a duck containing Mac, Harold Oxley and several soldiers, Dovchenko awakened and (barely) regained control of the truck after she and Mutt jumped out into the other vehicle.
Infuriated with Jones for knocking him out twice, he gathered the straggling soldiers thrown out during the chase and the truck soon caught up to Jones' party - at a nesting site for a supercolony of siafu. Heedless of the ants, Dovchenko leapt out of the speeding truck and tackled Jones and Oxley to the ground, engaging Jones in a second brutal fistfight, which was allowed to continue unmolested by the ants due to Oxley's use of the Crystal Skull. This time, Dovchenko managed to actually gain the upper hand in the brawl. Following being beaten upside the head with a log by Jones and then punched four times across the face consecutively, a dazed Dovchenko fell into the ant swarm. Dovchenko started screaming when the ants engulfed his entire body and dragged him headfirst into the nest, where he was devoured alive.
Personality and traits
Antonin Dovchenko was a tall and lean man as well as a capable hand-to-hand fighter. As noted by Jimmy Wycroft, his face was so hard as the desert rock, icy and cold. Coming across Dovchenko several times, Indiana Jones considered the Russian with the shaved head to be a "thug" and not very intelligent, according to his journal. In addition to his native Russian, Dovchenko also spoke English; albeit brokenly, but he was a man of few words, more focused on carrying out missions.
As Irina Spalko noted, Dovchenko lacked an appreciation for ancient relics, which is why she tried to "educate" him. This was demonstrated when he dropped carelessly to Hangar 51's tarmac, pieces from the coastal Mayan ruins that Jones had been digging as, according to Dovchenko, they were nothing more than "junk". Dovchenko also had a distaste for insects, especially ants.
Following his encounter with Jones at Hangar 51, Dovchenko took an instant dislike to the archaeologist, being tempted to supersede the orders that forced him to keep the man alive. Dovchenko became so consumed with fighting Jones to the point that he risked his own security, a trait which culminated in his death. He jumped off a truck carrying him to safety to face down Jones who was being pursued by the deadly siafu which were repelled by the Crystal Skull and created a natural arena in which the pair could do battle. Although able to absorb several blows to the head, Dovchenko was eventually knocked into the swarm which carried him to his doom.
Behind the scenes
Antonin Dovchenko was played by Igor Jijikine in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Jijikine, a high-wire trapeze artist in the Cirque du Soleil, performed mandatory military service in the Soviet Special Forces from 1982 to 1984. Jijikine's large fighting character follows in the tradition of the late Pat Roach's characters from the previous three films. Like many of the Soviet Special Forces who infiltrated Hangar 51, Dovchenko uses the name of a US president as a cover identity, in his case Harry S. Truman.
Although the character was created by Kingdom of the Crystal Skull writer David Koepp, Dovchenko seems to be developed from Himmelman, a character in Frank Darabont's unmade Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods script, one of that many which were considered for the fourth Indiana Jones film. Himmelman was a German henchman who ended up being eaten alive by the siafu.
To shoot Dovchenko's death, Igor Jijikine dropped to the empty floor of the Hawaiian jungle where the film crew was filming and then screamed hard, while the ants were later inserted as CGI as seen in the film's featurettes.
The way in which the ants killed Dovchenko by getting into his mouth to suffocate him is the technique that siafu use in real life to do away with their victims. Once they pass out, the siafu devour them. However, in real life, it's very easy to escape from the siafu by running, since these aren't as fast as they appear in the film. In addition, real siafu eat more lions and hyenas than humans, and seldom bring large prey to their anthill, they only devour them there.
Dovchenko demonstrates proficiency in the Russian Military martial art of Sambo. When he is dragged towards the siafu nest, he can be heard screaming "Pomogi mne!" which is Russian for "Help me!". In the film's comic book adaptation, he yells "Nyet!" – "No!" – instead.
Dovchenko's role in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull novelization is the same, but his demise differs sligthly. He charges at Indy who uses the big Colonel's own momentum to flip him into the ants, which was also how it ended in the pre-viz animation. In the Crystal Skull comic adaptation he never wears a cap and he is still conscious after the rocket sled comes to halt, getting knocked out by Jones instead. In the LEGO comic book LEGO Indiana Jones: Escape from the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!, Dovchenko is depicted as having survived his encounter with the siafu and attempts to took his revenge against Jones and his party with a bazooka. However, the ants return and chase him away to an unknown fate.
In LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, Dovchenko is depicted as a bald soldier and his confrontation with Jones in the Amazon is very different. The siafu form a giant man and a giant dolphin made of ants that Dovchenko can control to attack Jones and his friends. However, after being defeated, Dovchenko falls to the side of an anthill and seven ants carry him to their nest. In the DS version of the game, he manages to escape from the anthill twice during his fight with Jones before succumbing to his movie fate.
Hasbro released 3 ¾" and 12" action figures of Dovchenko as well as an Adventure Heroes model. The 12" figure came packed with a few siafu ants. LEGO included a minifig of him in the playsets of the Peru plane and the Jungle Cutter.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull novel (First appearance)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comic
- LEGO Indiana Jones: Escape from the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance)
Notes and references
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull novel
- The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull junior novelization
- The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
- Production Diary: Making of "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"