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THE GOLDEN CHILD

        

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday,Jan. 29, 2021

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Paramount Home Entertainment, on its recent ‘Paramount Presents’ label, has given Eddie Murphy’s 1986 fantasy-comedy ‘The Golden Child’ a Blu-ray upgrade, which should please Murphy’s fans. The film was not one of Murphy’s biggest hits, although it was a box-office success, and critics (including yours truly) were less than kind. My review was published in the Deseret News on Dec. 14, 1986.

 

Eddie Murphy is a very funny fellow, and it’s a good thing or “The Golden Child” wouldn’t be worth watching at all.

 

As it is, this one gets a “maybe” for general audiences and a “yes” for Murphy’s legion of fans.

 

Just don’t go in expecting too much.

 

This is a “Temple of Doom” variation by way of “Lost Horizon.” It’s top-heavy with special effects, short on interesting characters and has a plot that starts out weird and gets progressively more ridiculous.

 

The film opens with a young bald child in Tibet being kidnapped by a band of demons, led by a particularly devilish fellow.

 

       

 

      J.L. Reate, Eddie Murphy, ‘The Golden Child’ (1986)

 

Murphy plays a Los Angeles social worker or maybe a private investigator, whose specialty is tracking down missing children (it’s never really made clear what he is or who pays his salary).

 

A woman from Tibet (Charlotte Lewis) contacts him and tells Murphy he’s “The Chosen One,” in other words, a man who is not an angel in the City of Angels. Right.

 

She tells him a little boy is “The Golden Child,” a magical youngster born every thousand generations to bring some form of good into the world, in this case, compassion.

 

Murphy is somewhat skeptical, of course, until enough weird things happen to convince him her story is true. Then she seduces him into taking a flight to Tibet. Right.

 

In Tibet, they are to obtain a sacred dagger, then, upon returning to Los Angeles, a magical parakeet will lead them to the demons’ lair where the child is being held captive. Right.

 

I suppose if you can buy into that storyline (and if you can I’d like to sell you some property in the middle of the Great Salt Lake), you may be able to go with all of this. But somehow I was never quite able to make the leap.

 

        

 

Eddie Murphy, left, Charles Dance, 'The Golden Child' (1986)

 

Furthermore, the action sequences — and there are plenty — are rather badly staged, with close-ups and quick-cuts that are bound to make you wonder who is hitting whom or what exactly is going on.

 

And if anyone else was starring in this yarn I might have given up completely very early on. But Eddie Murphy is capable of taking even mediocre fantasy stuff like this and making it fly, at least occasionally.

 

Sure, he’d be better if he had someone to play off of, like all the bozos that surrounded him in “Beverly Hills Cop.” Sure it would be nice if clever and funny did not always equal vulgar and stupid in the eyes of screenwriters like Dennis Feldman, whose previous effort was the equally dimwitted “Just One of the Guys.”

 

But Murphy’s ad libs — and it’s hard to believe that most of his best lines didn’t spring form Murphy himself — are usually right on the mark, while his streetwise persona perfectly fits the character (although it would be nice if we knew more about this guy).

 

Not exactly another “Beverly Hills Cop” — or even a “Trading Places” or “48 HRS.,” for that matter.

 

But there are things to be grateful for; it’s also not a “Best Defense.”

 

“The Golden Child” is rated PG-13 for violence (some of it rather gruesome), profanity, vulgarity and a nude photo on a magazine cover.