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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Golden Child (1986)




This was a frequent rental back in my misspent youth. I loved this movie and thought it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. But I’ve not watched The Golden Child in years and thought it was about time that I revisited it.

Eddie Murphy is Chandler Jarrell, a private detective that specializes in locating missing children. This is important because we have already seen an evil looking man kidnap a small boy from a monastery in Tibet after killing all of the Monks that were protecting him. That evil looking man is Sardo Numspaa, who is really a demon come to do horrible things. To make this come to pass he has to corrupt and kill the boy. Why? Because he is the bringer of compassion and savoir of the human race! Chandler is the chosen one who must protect the boy from the evil. Let the action and hilarity ensue.

I don’t like this movie as much as I used to. Maybe twenty plus years of watching and paying close attention to how things are constructed might have ruined it for me. What I noticed here is that the movie has a very disjointed feel to it. The script was clearly setup to put the star, Murphy, in one situation after another where he can crack wise. There is nothing wrong with that and he is very funny. But what should be a cohesive story instead comes off like a series of skits stuck together with an overarching plotline loosely tying them together. It doesn’t help matters that we get several familiar faces from Big Trouble in Little China playing very similar parts that they had in that movie. Now that is a movie that is funny but doesn’t try so hard to set up individual gags that it hurts the overall plot.

Charles Dance does a good job as Sardo Numspaa, but he isn’t given much to work with. The script doesn’t have much in the way of setting him up as the villain, which also hurts things. He isn’t that scary, and he is supposed to be the demon that wants to end the world! I suppose I should also mention that when he goes “full demon” the special effects work isn’t that great. Even for eighty-six the work looks bad and the actions of the demon doesn’t always fit together with the actors and sets. There is also some pretty bad green screen work.

Brother Numpsey!
The action sequences are awkward. This surprised the heck out of me since I’ve seen Eddie Murphy do action before and he was a physically fit guy that could pull it off. I’m going to have to blame the director for not using Murphy and the rest of the cast to their full potential. Hell, he wasted Peter Kwong who normally kicks much butt! The director, Michael Ritchie, is best known for the Fletch movies and never really did action again after this. The guy could clearly do comedy as he also has Wildcats (my favorite Goldie Hawn flick!) on his resume as well.

I still laugh at the jokes but that is about all that The Golden Child has going for it. The next time I want to see a demon trying to pull off some shenanigans involving a Chinese prophecy I’ll pop in Carpenter’s Big Trouble instead. Unless you are suffering from a bout of nostalgia, as I admittedly was, I recommend passing on The Golden Child.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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