The Golden Child (1986)

Doesn't get a gold star

Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) is a social worker who's looking for a missing young girl. While searching for her, he is confronted by a woman (Charlotte Lewis) who tells him that he is the chosen one, who is destined to save The Golden Child, the savior of all mankind, from the clutches of the demon Sardo Numpsa (Charles Dance).

The film promoted itself first and foremost as a comedy, mainly due to the fact that Eddie Murphy was the lead actor, but the film's jokes don't really come off as actually being funny, they're just too basic to actually make you laugh. In fact, the film was supposed to be a serious adventure film until Murphy took the lead role, which lead to what feels like a clash between the "comedic" moments and the many dark moments that occur.

Eddie Murphy played Chandler Jarrell, who is the chosen one destined to save the golden child. While I can buy Murphy as an action star like in Beverly Hills Cop, I can not see him as the star of a supernatural fantasy like in this film. Plus, no matter what issues I have with the character, Murphy is still a thousand times better here than in any of his latest fat-suit or family friendly films.

Charlotte Lewis plays Kee Nang, the lady who gets Chandler Jarrell to know of his destiny as the chosen one. While I did like how she was a kick-ass female character rather than a screeching damsel, her character was pretty uninteresting, and I did not see any chemistry between her character and Murphy's, leaving me to not buy into their obligatory relationship.

Charles Dance plays the role of the villain, Sardo Numpsa, which is problematic as Dance isn't the slightest bit intimindating as the villain, and it doesn't help how ridiculous his name actually sounds. Plus, they reveal how he is a demon in such an off-handed, half-arsed way that it feels more like a mention than an actual reveal. I also did not get why Numpsa had trouble with pronouncing J's, was this supposed to be part of the comedy? Because if so, it definitely failed.

"Take all the blood you need, that Golden Child's not mine"

The Mythology behind the Golden Child and The Chosen One is poorly explained at a rushed pace, leaving holes in many places, like The Golden Child's powers. They aren't actually explained, so we don't know what he can do, and this leads to powers being revealed only because they're relevant to the plot at that point, leaving you feeling a bit infuriated.

It's not just the mythology which is poorly explained, as many things happen all throughout the film, leaving us viewers with questions that go unanswered, like a certain guard who suddenly switches sides and helps Jarrell, who is then never seen again. Also, the dream transmition, which is only explained as being part dream and part reality, never explained how the dream and reality could mix into one plane.

I know this film was made in the 80's, but the effects are really cheap looking, and the film doesn't go to any lengths to conceal how cheap they look. I also found the editing to be bad, as scenes ended abruptly and shots were randomly cut out. The action wasn't very well choreographed either. The ending is also problematic, feeling like it was rushed into delivering a happy ending that wrapped everything up.

The Golden Child is a problematic film that claims to be a comedy, but doesn't come across as being that funny, whilst leaving many unanswered questions, and suffering from an unconvincing villain, bad editing, effects and action sequences. With that said, Murphy's acting was the best thing about this film, and no matter how bad the movie was, you never felt bored throughout, and this isn't a terrible film, just quite below mediocre.