Indiana Jones Wiki
Advertisement

"Don't be sad, Dr. Jones. You will soon be joining him."
―Lao Che, after Wu Han is killed.[src]

Lao Che was a ruthless Chinese crime lord who made a number of attempts on the life of Indiana Jones in the early 1930s. Lao was the father of three sons: Chen, Kao Kan and another. All three of his children had different mothers.

Biography[]

Early life[]

A descendant of the Manchu Dynasty's first emperor Nurhachi,[5] Lao Che was born in 1885.[2] Based in Shanghai, China, Lao Che became one of the city's most notorious gangsters by using his sharp mind and ruthlessness to work his way up from being a petty thief and loan shark,[4] making his fortune in opium and white slavery.[3]

As a criminal entrepreneur, Lao owned both legitimate and illegal businesses, including pharmaceutical and export companies, and several taverns and nightclubs, such as the Lotus Eaters.[2] His spectacular[6] nightclub, Club Obi Wan, served as a front and the base of operations for his criminal activities, which was regularly frequented by many of Shanghai's most prominent citizens, providing lavish entertainment, fine food, and for those who wish it -- a discreet, seemingly safe venue for indulging in darker pleasures like gambling and prostitution. As with other underworld crime lords, he had a substantial number of Shanghai's public officials in his pocket, but more than half of those under his control served him as the result of blackmail rather than bribes.[2] Though Lao Che called himself a merchant prince, everyone else quietly used more accurate labels like "gang lord" and "crime boss." [7]

He had three sons from different women:[3] Chen, Kao Kan[8] and a third one.[3] The first two served as the chief lieutenants of his criminal empire, although Kan was his favorite while Chen was ignored by him many times.[4]

A tactic Lao frequently used was to keep cremated ashes of deceased family members as collateral for loans given out. This habit helped start his collection of rare and royal ashes.[4] Despite the dark nature of his business, however, Lao kept many reporters on his payroll to pose as a legal entrepreneur. In 1924, Lao was responsible for the murder of a watchmaker who refused to pay protection money on his shop.[8]

Clashes with Indiana Jones[]

Indiana Jones' first run-in with Lao Che was in 1933 at the Lotus Eaters nightclub, when Jones discovered that the gangster had forced one of his men, Wu Han, into servitude by taking possession of the cremated remains of the young scholar's family and was withholding a proper burial until Wu Han had worked off a decade for each of the three deceased relative. Jones managed to surreptitiously retrieve the ashes out from under Lao's nose, thereby gaining Wu Han's freedom and acquired a new friend in the process. When Lao Che became aware of the ruse, he sent assassins after the archaeologist but they were defeated the next day on board a train out of Shanghai.[3]

Nevertheless, when a Manchurian government official hired Lao Che to secure the ashes of Nurhachi, which had been stolen by thieves in 1903, the gangster sought Indiana Jones to retrieve them.[9] In 1934, Lao Che provided the archaeologist with a critical lead that helped him to find the ancient burial ground of the Chinese emperors.[10] Lao formally commissioned Indiana Jones in 1935 to recover the remains of Nurhachi in exchange for the diamond known as the Eye of the Peacock and urn was traced to a Turkish pawn shop in Istanbul.[11]

Indy and Wu Han were to meet with Lao after the American archaeologist defeated the Black Dragon Triad leader Kai Ti Chang in the Netherworld to save China from Kai's machinations with the Heart of the Dragon, but Jones delayed the encounter to spend time with Mei Ying, his companion on the adventure.[12]

Eventually, Lao dispatched Kao Kan to steal the Nurhachi's urn, but Jones caught him, and Kao Kan's left hand was wounded in the process. The next day, Lao met with Jones at Club Obi Wan to complete the trade as originally planned: Nurhachi's ashes for the diamond. After examining the ashes, Lao double-crossed Jones by poisoning him then offered the antidote only in exchange for both valuables. Desperate for a bargaining chip, Jones grabbed Lao's trophy girlfriend — Club Obi Wan singer Willie Scott — as a hostage. The situation turned violent when Chen shot Wu Han acting as the archaeologist's back-up, and Jones retaliated by killing Chen with a flaming skewer. Lao called in his men to deal with Jones[1] and swearing vengeance,[2] but Jones and Scott escaped through a window with the antidote.[1]

Lao Che and his surviving son Kao Kan chased them by car to Nang Tao Airport where Jones unwittingly left the country aboard a plane owned by one of Lao's legitimate businesses, Lao Che Air Freight. Though Jones taunted Lao with a farewell message, Lao smiled, knowing that he held the upper hand with his loyal pilots.[1]

After the plane took off, Lao contacted it[13] and had the pilot and co-pilot fly off course over the remote mountains on the border with India, and dump the plane's fuel and parachute out, intending to kill Jones and his companions in a plane crash. However, the attempt failed as Jones, Scott and Short Round managed to survive.[1]

Personality and traits[]

A ruthless crime lord, Lao Che controlled Shanghai's criminal underworld with an iron fist.[4] Like so many of the city's notorious gangsters, Che enjoyed cultivating his image as a legitimate businessman despite his shady dealings, gaining a reputation over the years as a patron of the arts and philanthropist,[8] while privately enjoying at offering the darkest pleasures to the local underworld.[6] His sons Chen and Kao Kan were also involved in his businesses, though Lao favored Kao over Chen.[4]

Behind the scenes[]

Lao Che was portrayed by the late Shanghai-born and raised Chinese actor Roy Chiao in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. His voice was dubbed by Ron Taylor.[1]

During the development of the film's script, written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, Lao Che's name was spelled "Lao She", named after the Chinese novelist of the same name. Additionally, a sequence in which Lao Che went after Indiana Jones and his party on the Great Wall of China in a motorcycle chase was considered; however, after China banned filming on the Great Wall, the idea was discarded, with a pursuit on motorcycles ultimately being recycled for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.[14]

Before the death of Chiao, fans had called for the return of Lao Che in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with Chiao reprising his character. Director Steven Spielberg had stated he was open to re-using the character, and that Chiao, as well as Ric Young who played Kao Kan, was interested in returning for the fourth film.

In the Readers of the Lost Ark letters section of issue 26 from The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, when asked by a fan if they would bring some Temple of Doom characters back, the Marvel Comics writers in charge of the series stated that there were plans to bring Lao Che back as the villain of a then-planned future story arc, but they declined to discuss further details for the ultimately unrealized story.[15]

Lao Che's name appeared on windows and boxes outside a fireworks factory in the trailer for the then-untitled Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings video game. The more then-recent trailer showed Indiana Jones drinking at Lao Che Cocktails before being approached by two men who have heard he is "looking for the boss".[16] Lao Che himself didn't make an appearance in the final product though his name is referenced through Lao Che Lounge.[17]

LaoCheLego

Lao Che in minifigure form

There were plans by Hasbro in 2009 for an Adventure Heroes set with action figures of Indiana Jones (in his Tuxedo suit) and Lao Che, but the toyline was cancelled before the set could be made.[18]

In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Lao's role mirrors that from the film.[19] In the sequel, however, Lao is apparently killed during the car chase in Shanghai as only Kao Kan appears during the airport scene.[20]

Appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

Advertisement