The Golden Child

Eddie Murphy has made plenty of odd films. But, at least his odd film of the 1980s was odd in an interesting way, not because he wore a fat suit.

The Golden Child (1986) is odd, because it blends action, comedy, fantasy, and elements of Chinese mysticism.

Sound familiar? Yes, Big Trouble in Little China has all of those things too (and they came out the same year).

But, only one of these films has Eddie Murphy, and that is the big difference (even though Kurt Russel is great in Big Trouble). I have read The Golden Child was originally planned as a very serious adventure film, but when Murphy was brought on, it switched gears.

So, now you have Eddie Murphy fighting demons, traveling to Tibet, and searching for magical weapons.

Ah, the 1980s. What an era for film.

Murphy’s humor and comedic timing help balance the mystical elements of the film. Had this film taken itself more seriously, I doubt it would have been nearly as enjoyable. Just when the story gets really deep into the mystical side, there’s Murphy with a joke, or a goofy expression to lighten the mood.

When you have a story with a demon in human form trying to feed a supernatural child blood to weaken his powers, you need a few jokes here and there. It helps keep the dark, occult themes (of which there are many) from overpowering the story.

Sure, there are some “whatever” moments, such as when Murphy has to carry a glass of water through an obstacle course without spilling a drop. And, why is a social worker The Chosen One who can save The Child?

But who cares? There is also a dragon lady. And let us not forget the classic, “I want the knife” scene.

I have probably watched this film, in part or in whole, about a hundred times. It was a fixture on TV in my youth. It was almost always on at any given point, especially the weekends. Sure, it is an odd film, but it has a bit charm, thanks to Eddie Murphy in his prime. This was just after Beverly Hills Cop, when he could do no wrong.

Some might disagree, and say The Golden Child was Murphy’s only stumble during his string of hits in the 1980s. Compared to his other films of the eighties, The Golden Child sticks out like a sore thumb, but only due to its plot. In terms of box office, the film was a success (although, I have read, not in the eyes of the studio).

And as someone who grew up in the 1980s, The Golden Child was a success in keeping me entertained. Over and over again.

Daniel J. Hogan writes humor and draws comics for clattertron.com. You can follow him on Twitter, @danieljhogan.

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