A Giant Sherpa resided in Patan, Nepal in 1936, working as a guide and goon-for-hire for travellers. That year, he served as one of Nazi Gestapo intelligence agents Major Arnold Ernst Toht and Otto’s henchmen alongside two others as the two Germans were visiting Patan to retrieve the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra from Marion Ravenwood at her bar, The Raven, for their mission to unearth the Ark of the Covenant at the Well of the Souls at Tanis outside Cairo, Egypt. However, as they were torturing Marion, American archaeologist Indiana Jones showed up and a gunfight ensued, with the Giant Sherpa being killed during the brawl.
In 1936, the travelling Nazi Gestapo intelligence agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht and his partner Otto hired the Nepalese, another goon of Mongolian origin and a fellow Sherpa to help them in their mission to find the Headpiece to the Staff of Ral which they would retrieve from American Marion Ravenwood at her bar The Raven. As with his fellows, Toht secured the Sherpa's loyalty by paying him with a handful of cash.
The five men arrived outside the bar shortly after it had closed following a drinking contest between Marion and an Australian climber, won by the former, but the men could not yet enter the building as American archaeologist Indiana Jones, an old friend of Ravenwood, was visiting the bar that night. After Jones had left, the Nepalese man, the Mongolian and the two Germans entered the bar, leaving the larger goon outside in case they needed backup.
Sure enough, as Toht and his henchmen were about to begin torturing Ravenwood, Indiana Jones returned to the bar and used his whip to fling Toht’s weapon away. A gunfight ensued whilst the bigger man was still outside, but by the time the other Nepalese man had been shot and killed, the giant sherpa burst through the door into the building, slamming the door into Jones, grabbing him and hurling him into a wall. The distraction allowed Marion to disable the Mongolian henchman, whilst Toht and Otto watched from a distance.
Pulling Jones away from his doorway hiding place, the Sherpa threw Jones against the bar and pinned him against the bar counter. Toht knocked over some alcohol and ignited it, letting the flame run down the bar toward Jones. The American asked Ravenwood, who was hiding behind the bar after knocking out the other henchman, for some whiskey. Retrieving a bottle of whiskey, Jones smashed it against the head of the sherpa, who momentarily let go of the archaeologist. Escaping from the line of flames on the counter, Jones was grabbed again by the sherpa, who simultaneously tried to choke Jones and grapple for his pistol.
As the Sherpa fought with Jones over control of Jones' pistol, Toht ordered Otto to shoot Jones, much to the dismay of the archaeologist and entertainment of the man holding him. But, when Toht said moments afterwards to simply shoot the sherpa as well, the giant man was not so happy. Realizing that they had a common enemy, the sherpa and Jones aimed the gun they were wrestling over in the direction of the machine-gun toting German and fired it several times, killing Otto. Distracted, Jones slipped away from the Sherpa again, who followed him.
Jones tried to push him into the fireplace but only succeeded in losing his gun and setting the goon's arm on fire. Shrugging off the pain, the Sherpa took a swing at Jones with his burning sleeve several times and continued fighting. After the first swing, a vulnerable sherpa was punched by Jones, sending his hat tumbling off. As their fight continued, Toht grabbed the heated headpiece, but burned his hand, and sprinted out of the now burning bar to make an escape. While his back was turned, Jones took down the sherpa with a chair to the back. The unconscious Sherpa was abandoned inside the burning Raven to be consumed by the flames.
Behind the scenes
The Giant Sherpa was portrayed by the late actor and professional wrestler Pat Roach in Raiders of the Lost Ark, who also played the German Mechanic in the same film and later went on to portray the Chief Guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and the Gestapo in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
During the development of Lawrence Kasdan's script, the Giant Sherpa was going to regain consciousness after his fight with Indy but just as he moves to wring the unsuspecting Jones' neck, a roof beam collapses over him, effectively killing the sherpa. However, this was cut from the final film.
The scene in which Indiana Jones knocks out the Giant Sherpa with a small wooden table before abandoning him in The Raven was shortened. During the filming, Indy was going to throw a chair into the back of the Sherpa before knocking him out with the table as in the final version. Shooting of the scene was included in the documentary Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark and the featurette The Stunts of Indiana Jones.
The Giant Sherpa is absent from the Raiders comic book adaptation. Instead, the Mongolian thug fulfils his role as being the one who fights against Indy and later helps him kill Otto, also fulfilling his character’s original role of being shot by Marion Ravenwood as in the film. In the film's Read-Along Adventure adaptation, he enters with the rest of the other henchmen rather than catching Jones by surprise during the fight.
The giant sherpa is absent from LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and its sequel, but the Sherpa Gunner character seems to be based on him, Otto, the Mongolian thug, and the Nepalese goon, wielding Otto’s weapon, fulfilling the giant sherpa’s role and taking the appearance of the Nepalese man in the first game and the Mongolian in the second. Meanwhile, another original character, the Sherpa Brawler, appears to be based on the giant sherpa in terms of appearance and attacks, but simply serves as a recurring enemy in both games rather than fulfilling an actual role.
Notes and references
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Raiders of the Lost Ark Sourcebook
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark
- The Stunts of Indiana Jones
- Raiders of the Lost Ark comic
- Raiders of the Lost Ark Read-Along Adventure
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues