Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The running joke around the house is whenever we need some cutlery, we always drone in with ‘Give… Me… The Kniiiiiffeeee….’ Which of course is a reference to the much maligned 1986 Eddie Murphy vehicle ‘The Golden Child’. The thing is the boy… or more accurately the Man Child who lives with us and insatiably eats our food, doesn’t get the joke. That had to be rectified. It wasn’t easy but I tracked down a fresh copy of ‘The Golden Child’. Actually it was really easy. Almost too easy. I’ll have you know that when I saw ‘The Golden Child’ back in ’86 I thought it was Eddie Murphy’s best movie. Better than ‘48 Hours’, ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, and even better than ‘Best Defense’. I know, right? Revisiting ‘The Golden Child’ some twenty five plus years later it is a little dumber than I remembered, not quite as funny as I recalled but Charlotte Lewis’ wet T-shirt scene was still as awesome as ever.

Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance) is an evil dude. He busts in a temple of monks, murders them all and kidnaps a little bald Asian kid (J.L. Reate). Seems this little kid is the Golden Child, a child who is born perfect every millennium and is sent to Earth to save us all. Note that this was well over twenty years ago and this Golden Child would be in his thirties and still he hasn’t gotten around to what he’s supposed to do yet. Any day now Mr. Golden Child who is now Mr. Golden Man.

Apparently the fate of the Earth rests in Sardo’s ability to either poison or murder this kid and if you want to soil somebody on this planet, you take them to Los Angeles. Duh. L.A. also happens to be the stomping ground of legendary child finder Chandler Jarell (Murphy) who will soon meet the sizzling hot mystical lady Kee Nang (Lewis) who wants Chandler to find this boy. Chandler is the chosen one. Crazy, but that what the woman said. Chandler doesn’t believe this woman, believing her to be a total whack job, but she is hot and she does smell nice so he plays along. True, I couldn’t smell her through my TV set but I kind of have a sense for these things.

Eventually things start to heat up. Chandler still doesn’t believe the whole ‘Chosen One’ deal, but he knows a kid is missing and folks are trying to kill him. Then when he’s dream assaulted by Mr. Numspa Chandler becomes a true believer. By the time he pressures Kee Nang into having sex with him and not to mention his encounter with the chain smoking half dragon lady, he’s about ready for anything.

So Chandler goes to Nepal, meets an old obscene Asian dude (Victor Wong) and does some Indiana Jones type puzzle stuff just to get The Knife. The Knife can kill Numspa. The knife can also kill the kid. Try not to lose The Knife Chandler. Oh well, so much for that. Plus he’s lost his crazy hot girlfriend. The good news is that The Golden Child can bring her back to life. The Bad news is that Numspa has the knife, has plans to gut the kid and has turned into a monster that looks like some really bad Harryhausen. Suspect action and reanimation shall ensue.

You know… as hot as Charlotte Lewis might’ve been in this movie, and there’s not a lot of 80’s hotties who were hotter… and this includes the entire cast of ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Square Pegs’, considering she’s been dead all day I don’t think I’d continue to date her after that freaky kid brought her back to life. She’s a zombie now.

Anyway, even though I was all of nineteen at the time ‘The Golden Child’ was probably my first inclination that movie critics are stupid. I loved this critically panned mix of sci-fi fantasy nonsense back in 1986. Less now, but back then I was pretty much convinced that this was the best movie Eddie Murphy had ever made. Slightly unrelated, but sadly enough this is still one of the best movies that Eddie Murphy has ever made. At least in the top five. One day we’ll have to debate Eddie Murphy’s best ever movie. I think I’m going to go with ‘Life’ though the old lady would certainly roll with ‘Boomerang’.

But back to the ‘The Golden Child’ conversation that we are clearly avoiding, what was completely lost on me back in ‘86 was how phenomenally stupid this movie was. People probably forget how absolutely gigantic Eddie Murphy was back then and as such his mere presence in this movie probably smoothed over a lot of the oppressive stupidity and painful predictability of this film, but we were watching Eddie be Eddie so it was all good. My son, on the other hand, only knows Eddie Murphy as that guy who voices Donkey and occasionally makes gawdawful family movies so the abject ridiculousness of ‘The Golden Child’ hit him in the face like a blunt force object. He hated this movie. He didn’t even think the ‘Give me the Knife’ bit was funny. And the Eddie laugh… he wondered out loud how anyone could tolerate the ultra annoying (his term) Eddie Murphy laugh for more than thirty seconds.

I still enjoyed it though. It’s hokey, it’s predictable, it’s stupid but its Eddie Murphy winging his lines and Charlotte Lewis doing kung fu in a wet t-shirt. What’s not to like about that?

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