Directed By: Michael Ritchie
Written By: Dennis Feldman
Produced By: Edward S. Feldman, Robert D. Wachs
Cast: Eddie Murphy, J.L. Keate, Peter Kwong, Charles Dane, Charlotte Lewis
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes
Review Date: July 23, 2010
It seems like in every 1980s movie starring Eddie Murphy (Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop), he plays the same character over and over again. The Golden Child is no exception. Murphy portrays Chandler Jarrell, an average guy who happens to specialize in finding missing children. His newest assignment is to find The Golden Child (J.L. Reate), whom Sardo Numspa (Charles Dane) and his vile henchmen have kidnapped from Tibet. The Golden Child, born every 3,000 years, is a bringer of compassion, and without him, the world becomes hell. Jarrell stumbles on this case after much persistence from Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis). Mainly, Nang informs Jarrell he is “The Chosen One” and their only hope in finding The Golden Child.
Numspa wants The Golden Child solely so he can kill him and put the world in complete and utter chaos. To kill The Golden Child, he must eat impure things, which then make him vulnerable and easy to attack. But it’s The Golden Child, so clearly he’s not going to go for the bowl of mush filled with blood. Instead he eats plant leaves while in his Tweety Bird cage awaiting a rescue from Jarrell, The Chosen One.
The script is predictable. You can pretty much figure out what Jarrell is going to do ten minutes before he does. Nang just becomes annoying, clingy, and a bit overbearing throughout the film. Though her martial arts were top notch and deserve a shout out. Numspa and his henchmen are so over-the-top, they’ll leaving you cringing whenever they are on the screen.
The special effects in the movie are completely hokey, even for an ’80s film. They leave the viewer in a state of confusion instead of enhancing the scene. One piece in particular, a skeleton/gargoyle creation, was unnerving to watch. It looked like something straight out of Leprechaun (and I think the only sensible thing to come out of that film was Jennifer Aniston). During Jarrell’s quest to rescue The Golden Child, he embarks on a video game of sorts, dodging all sorts of fantasy villains. It looked like a bad video game and Sonic the Hedgehog had better graphics at his disposal.
The Golden Child was the only character I enjoyed, though sometimes his mind games were a bit much for me. Case in point: the soda can dance. At first I thought it was funny, then it just got old and continued to overstay its welcome by two minutes.
The film ends with a perfect bow, chock full of predictability. Murphy was embarking on his new found fame during this time, especially with the success of Saturday Night Live, so it’s quite the conundrum as to why he signed on for this B-list movie. Maybe it was the shooting in Nepal?
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.