Dir: Michael Ritchie, 1986
Eddie Murphy’s fourth solo feature (the least said about Best Defense, the better), got a very unfair deal from critics. His three previous films, were well received by reviewers and the box office takings reflected his popularity.
But, as is the rule with critics, you can’t let anyone be too popular, and with the three hits already under his belt, they couldn’t let him have another one. So, The Golden Child was treated unfavourably.
Murphy is Chandler Jarrell, a social worker. He is contacted by Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis), about a missing child with mystic qualities.
Jarrell is the The Chosen One, and is the only person who can save the child from evil demon, Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance).
For a comedy, the theme is pretty dark and it’s contents unpleasant. Jarrell finds a saucepan full of oatmeal and blood, with the explanation that a child has been abducted and murdered, draining her of her blood.
It’s also worth noting that, despite its ‘PG’ certificate, there is a stronger level of violence than you would usually find. Parents, may also want to take into consideration some scary special effects, including a half woman/half snake creature. This may be too much for young or sensitive children.
Unsurprisingly, Murphy is on top form and hilarious. Eddie Murphy has a charm and amiable personality, that can lift any film out of the doldrums. The Golden Child is a good film BECAUSE of him.
There are many memorable lines and scenes, possibly because Murphy ad-libbed, as he is prone to do. It begs the question of how much is script and how much is Murphy?
Dealing with Chinese mysticism, the director immediately hired the man with more credits under his belt than any other actor, James Hong. Seldom, has Hong not appeared in a movie where they need a Chinese actor.
Hong is a wonderful actor, who can adapt to any genre. Comedy, action, horror, kung-fu, or all of them at one time, like he did with John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China.
Joining the veteran actor, is fellow Big Trouble In Little China star, Victor Wong. As a Tibetan monk, Wong is gut-achingly funny as he dishes out insults to Murphy’s character, developing a great chemistry between the two.
Eddie Murphy is a master of delivery. Regardless of how banal and trite a script can be, Murphy has an ability to turn it around and make it funny. Nobody could have made this work, except for Murphy. The Golden Child isn’t a comedy in the traditional sense. There are no comical situations, and the plot isn’t in the slightest bit amusing, but the erstwhile Saturday Night Live star has a rare and unique talent to make the viewer laugh at the drama.
Ignore the snobby critics; The Golden Child is truly underrated gem, that deserves so much more recognition.