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Blu-ray Review: The Golden Child

December 1, 2020

By John Corrado

Nestled in between his roles in the classic comedies Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America, Eddie Murphy starred in The Golden Child, a 1986 film that isn’t as fondly remembered as his others from the era. The film is being released for the first time on Blu-ray today as part of the Paramount Presents collection, and it’s a bit of a curious addition to the lineup.

Murphy stars as Chandler Jarrell, an independent “finder of missing children.” Dubbed the “Chosen One,” he is recruited by Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) to help find the “Golden Child” (J.L. Reate), a Tibetan boy possessing mystical powers who has been kidnapped the evil, shape-shifting Sardo Numpsa (Charles Dance) and his demonic henchmen.

There’s a reason why The Golden Child is rarely talked about alongside Eddie Murphy classics from the ’80s like Trading Places or the ones that I mentioned earlier, and that’s because it simply isn’t anywhere near as good as those other films from the decade. The film’s mix of tones often feels awkward, and it never fully works as either comedy or fantasy, with much of the humour feeling forced. At the start of the film, Chandler is investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl, who we find out has been trafficked and murdered, and it’s hard to think of a less funny opening for a comedy.

The film does get a bit smoother as it goes along, embracing being more of a fantasy in the latter half, but it never really comes alive. While Murphy does get in a few amusing line deliveries here and there, because of course he does, The Golden Child ultimately isn’t all that funny and feels like it can’t decide what it wants to be. The one thing that can be said about this release though is that the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray, having been newly remastered from a 4K film transfer. Any fans of the film or curious first time viewers won’t be disappointed by the picture quality at least.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with two new featurettes on the making of the film. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package.

The Making of The Golden Child (13 minutes, 23 seconds): A pair of decent featurettes made up of archival interviews from the shoot, that are viewable individually or through a “play all” option.

The Chosen Ones (6 minutes, 48 seconds): A selection of clips from old interviews with the actors, talking about the characters they play. We also hear from screenwriter Dennis Feldman and director Michael Ritchie. It begins with Murphy stating in an old interview from the set that the script is the best he’s ever read. Interestingly, we learn that the film wasn’t initially written as a comedy, and only really became one when Murphy came on board. This explains the awkward mix of genres, which Ritchie talks about trying to balance in the finished product.

Daggers, Design and Demons (6 minutes, 37 seconds): Again made up of clips from old interviews, this one focuses on the many fantastical elements and special effects in the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes, 1 second)

The Golden Child is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 93 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: December 1st, 2020

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