Friday, May 3, 2013

The Golden Child (1986)

Title: The Golden Child (1986)

Director: Michael Ritchie

Cast:  Eddie Murphy, Charles Dance, Charlotte Lewis, Victor Wong, James Hong, Randall Tex Cobb


It is said that every thousand generations, a perfect child is born and that this child will come to free us from ourselves. This magical child is supposed to bring compassion to humanity. If for whatever reason, the kid dies, then all hope and compassion will disappear from the world, and the world will turn into hell itself, literally. This is the premise for Michael Ritchie’s The Golden Child, an Eddie Murphy vehicle that was released onto the world right after Eddie Murphy had completed his work on Beverly Hills Cop (1984), in other words, when his fame was really starting to take off. For a moment there, Murphy was on fire in theaters making people laugh with one great comedy after another. I’m talking he was making films like Trading Places (1983), 48 Hrs. (1982) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). If you ask me, Murphy got as high as he was going to go in terms of comedy and quality with John Landis’s super comedy Coming to America (1988); now there’s a funny Eddie Murphy movie! After that, he’d continue making movies, but he never reached the success or levels of funny he reached during his golden years; the 80’s. But amongst all those funny movies he made during the 80’s, one was a stinker in my book, and that was The Golden Child.  Let’s find out why shall we?

So yeah, there’s a magical kid who’s kind of like the second coming of Christ or something, he’s been kidnapped from his Buddhist temple by this bad guy called ‘Sardo Numpsa’. You see old Sardo wants to make the kid drink some blood in order to corrupt his pure body. Then he wants to kill the kid so he won’t bring goodness to the world or something like that. In comes Chandler Jarrell (Murphy) a private detective who specializes in missing children cases. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is “the chosen one”, destined to save and protect The Golden Child. Will his wise ass remarks get in the way of saving The Golden Child?

The Golden Child is one of these movies that was originally intended to be one kind of a film, and ended up being another. At one point, this film was going to be a serious adventure film starring Mel Gibson. Even cooler, it was going to be directed by John Carpenter! Imagine that? Mel Gibson passing up this project was fine by me because instead he went and did Lethal Weapon (1987), a far more memorable film. Interesting thing about Carpenter’s involvement with The Golden Child is that he passed on it but then went on to direct Big Trouble in Little China (1986), a film that also dealt with Chinese mysticism, and also starred James Hong, Victor Wong and Peter Kwong. I guess Carpenter decided to go and do his own Chinese mysticism flick; his way. And thank the movie gods for that! Otherwise we would have never had a Big Trouble In Little China! So suddenly we had two studios making similar films, who was going to beat who to premiere day? Story goes that Big Trouble in Little China was rushed through post production in order to premiere before The Golden Child! Michael Ritchie was the guy who ended up directing The Golden Child; Ritchie’s a director who mostly specialized in directing comedies. He’s the director behind such comedy classics as The Bad News Bears (1976), Fletch (1985), Wild Cats (1986) and Fletch Lives! (1989), so in a way, it makes perfect sense that he’s the guy who ended up behind the cameras.

When Mel Gibson passed on the role of Chandler Jarrell, the producers opted to put Murphy in the starring role and had the script rewritten in order to turn it into a comedy. So what we have here ladies and gentlemen is one of those movies where everybody is dead serious, except for the main star who spends the whole film reacting to everything with a funny remark. Eddie Murphy literally replies with a funny remark to everything in this movie! So the comedy element of the film rests entirely on the shoulders of Eddie Murphy. Gotta admit he is one of the things that makes this movie watchable. The film might feel pointless and silly, but it had Eddie Murphy back when he was still a funny man, not the softy he’s become recently. Is there some sort of contract that prohibits Murphy from making films with some guts to them? All he makes now are freaking family comedies! So anyhow, it’s Murphy’s funny one liners that make this one bearable in my book.  

This movie gets lambasted by reviewers and critics everywhere, perhaps unfairly I might add. There’s this hive like mentality to immediately hate Eddie Murphy and everything he does, and I actually understand it because of the terrible films he currently makes, but once upon a time, Murphy was at the top of his game. He had an edge, he was actually funny. What happened to him that changed his persona so drastically? I don’t know, perhaps he became a dad and started seeing things differently? I don’t hate the Murphy’s old films; I find his early stuff truly hilarious. Try watching Trading Places (1983) and not laughing. I dare ya! I double dare ya! True, The Golden Child is not his brightest day in the sun, but hey, it’s got some fun things about it. For example, there’s this scene in the film that’s a flat out homage to The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) but with Murphy saying jokes as he passes the tests. We get two stop motion animated creatures, a  half snake, half human lady, and a demon from hell that’s really weird looking in design, I don’t know what the inspiration was for that creature.  In terms of mood, they were obviously going for a mix between 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), there’s this whole subplot about finding a magical dagger that reminded me of Indy searching for that idol. Overall, The Golden Child feels like a pointless movie that simply goes through the motions without any real impact. Still, if you want to see every film Murphy has made, there are far worse film on his repertoire for you to explore.

Rating: 2 out of 5 


Anonymous said...

This was eddie murphy's first PG-13
rated film.

jimmie t. murakami said...

"The Golden Child" is quite literally an unwatchable abomination and a murderously unbearable embarrassment for everyone involved.

steve prefontaine said...

Murphy was untouchable in the mid-80`s, no matter how appalling the film was (as with this movie) it still went over $100 million at the box office, when the American public become smitten with a specific individual they`ll flock to see anything that person appears in no matter how bad the film is, strange that they`re going to see the person not the movie ! ?.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Charlotte Lewis (as the bird was in 1985 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).

Franco Macabro said...

Jimmie T. Murakami: Whoa, 100% hatred from Jimmie for The Golden Child!

Steve: This is true, it happens with Brad Pitt, Will Smith...currently it's happening to Will Farrell who can make a crappy movie like Bewitched or Land of the Lost and still make money.

Jervaise: You never know, actually the bird looks kind of hot still, look her up! She was only 18 when she made The Golden Child!

jervaise brooke hamster said...

OK, maybe the bird is still surprisingly tasty for a 45 year-old bird but i still think the peak of a birds life is when the bird is 18, thats when a bird is at the absolute pinnacle and peak of her physical attractiveness and desirability, i`ll always be totally convinced of that.

steve prefontaine said...

Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell are all ludicrous, talentless and pathetic jokes.

Franco Macabro said...

jervaise brooke: LOL, my taste in women is a bit wider than yours Jervaise!

steve prefontaine: They've all made a farely decent amount of movies though, more good than bad in my book, ever seen Brad Pitt in Kalifornia? There's a decent Brad Pitt performance!

steve prefontaine said...

Francisco, literally the only thing i remember about Kalifornia was how gorgeous Juliette Lewis and Michelle Forbes were.

Anonymous said...

The Golden Child was not a bad movie and Brad Pitt is a really good actor. You guys are crazy. We all have different likes and dislikes, so it's all good, but come on lol!

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, The Golden Child is watchable, it has its moments.


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