The Golden Child (1986)
Eddie Murphy: Child Detective
So, I gotta go to Tibet, because I'm the Chosen One. Why can't anybody choose me to go to the Bahamas? - Chandler
The thing about "The Golden Child" is that if you approach it expecting a mystical adventure movie first and a comedy second you are going to end up disappointed. Because in reality "The Golden Child" is a comedy and one which is all about Eddie Murphy and his style of loud humour. And once you accept that this is going to be scene after scene of Eddie Murphy wise cracking his way through what in effect is a rather unoriginal adventure story "The Golden Child" becomes entertaining. Yes it's daft and the jokes are obvious whilst the special effects are quite dodgy but it makes you smile more often than not.
When the golden child (J.L. Reate), the saviour of the world, is taken from a Tibetan monastery by the evil Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance), the beautiful Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) leads a mission to rescue him. But first she must convince Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy - Beverly Hills Cop), a child detective and finder, that his is the chosen one and only he has the power to run the gauntlet and save the golden child from the evil Numspa. Initially sceptical, Chandler soon finds himself on a magical adventure which takes him to Tibet and back as well as battling demons and proving that he is pure of heart.
When it comes to the storyline to "The Golden Child" it's by no means the worse I've seen as it delivers a mix of adventure, magic and eastern mysticism instantly making me thing of "Big Trouble in Little China" and the much later "Bulletproof monk". And in a way the storyline could have been so much more if it hadn't been used purely as a vehicle for Eddie Murphy as it has its moments. The whole concept of the special one, a young child having such great powers is quite nice and also a little clever with him placed in a claw like cage away from people. And whilst daft the whole idea of a child detective being the chosen one to rescue him is reasonably good. But because "The Golden Child" is an Eddie Murphy movie the storyline which takes us back and forth between America and Tibet not only plays second fiddle but also ends up being under worked.
And so what "The Golden Child" ends up is a movie which is all about Eddie Murphy and his style of comedy. That means scene after scene we get his laugh, his wise cracks, his little looks to the camera and so on, all the tricks he employed in previous movies and there is no denying there is too much of it. It is as if director Michael Ritchie was pandering to Murphy's demands and allowed him to do pretty much what he liked when it came to the humour. But at the same time when you accept that you're going to get Eddie Murphy dominating pretty much every scene it does become a little entertaining. The whole "Indiana Jones" scene as he has to prove his purity of heart to get a dagger is amusing because of his wise cracks and the whole obvious romance sub plot between characters is just as much fun although the whole scene where Kee Nang gets drenched and so her blouse becomes see through is a really cheap, exploitation trick.
Because Eddie Murphy dominates "The Golden Child" it does mean that no one else really makes an impression especially Charles Dance who as Sardo Numspa basically shows up once in a while does something a tiny bit nasty and then disappears again, quite literally. And sadly the comedy talents of Victor Wong and James Hong are also under used as they are over shadowed by Eddie Murphy in the few scenes they get. The only one who does manage to make their presence known is the delightful Charlotte Lewis as Kee Nang who whilst maybe exploited when it comes to her good looks at least manages to grab some screen time away from Murphy with her fighting skills.
What this all boils down to is that "The Golden Child" is first and fore mostly an Eddie Murphy movie with him and his style of comedy dominating everything to the point that the story ends up playing second fiddle. But despite this domination which almost borders on over kill "The Golden Child" is still entertaining with plenty of amusing scenes which out weight those scenes where the comedy falls short. Just don't expect anything new and original because this is Eddie Murphy delivering more of the same comedy we've seen him do before.
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