We all know Eddie Murphy’s credentials.
A legend in the field of comedy, he erupted on the Saturday Night Live stage, making us laugh for the next 30+ years. His iconic performances in the ’80s are classics that we will never see again and that will probably never be surpassed in terms of humor, impact and ground-shattering comedic genius.
In that decade, his hits featured “48 Hours”, “Trading Places”, “Eddie Murphy: Delirious”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Coming to America” and “Harlem Nights.” All of them were (and still are) must-see movies and mandatory for every film collection, and they also solidified Murphy’s place in comedy and movie history.
But sandwiched in this list of classic films is one of Murphy’s more slept-on movies, one which didn’t get as much attention as his other major hits, and that was “The Golden Child” in 1986. 30 years after its release, “The Golden Child” is one of Eddie’s funniest movies that not many people truly understood or appreciated.
While not as popular, funny or even memorable as “Trading Places” or “Beverly Hills Cop”, “The Golden Child”, while silly at times, was actually full of some great Murphy moments, many of which are remembered by his true fans.
He played Chandler Jarrell, a private detective whose specialty was finding missing children. He ends up meeting Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis), who convinces him that he is “The Chosen One” whose purpose is to save the Golden Child from evil forces who seek to weaken him and eventually kill him. (Random fact, did you know that the Golden Child, who was a boy, was actually played by a girl named J.L. Reate?)
To be truthful, the movie had its corny moments, including animated snake women and winged demons, but some of the scenes were so hilarious that you actually forgot about the animation and “challenged” assassins.
Sometimes you have to appreciate comedy for what it is at its essence, a medium to elicit laughter. When it comes to this movie, even the most die-hard Eddie Murphy fan has to admit that it ain’t his greatest work, and while that may be true, it did have some hilarious moments that can still be used and recognized in conversations.
Take for instance Jarrell jumping over a fence into a family’s backyard barbecue, at which point he pulls out his gun and tells the father, “I just want some chips”, and to check the food with “turn it over man, it’s burning!” Who couldn’t use those lines at any BBQ?
Remember the trip to Nepal, which gave us the “little naked Hare Krishna midget” who stole his hundred dollar bill, the Monty Hall reference in the mountain temple and “HA! HA! I got the knife! Now turn on the goddamn lights!” The “N-E-P-A-L! Viva Nepal!” airport scene, the flight home or the infamous knife scene?
This wasn’t a movie which featured a roster of “A-list” actors, but it was comprised of what seemed to be the entire cast from the underground 1986 cult classic, “Big Trouble in Little China.” It also featured Charles Dance as Sardo Numspa aka “Brother Numpsay.”
Dance played the villain in this movie and twenty five years later he would go on to play another bad guy, Tywin Lannister, in the HBO smash hit “Game of Thrones.” Of course his portrayal of Lannister will be the more memorable role, but how could you not remember and laugh at his scene with Murphy in the LA airport.
“The Golden Child” never won any awards, nor was it recognized as a work of extreme comedy genius. And while it was very underappreciated, it was damn funny, made people laugh and enabled Murphy fans to forget about the fact that he made “Best Defense” two years prior.
It also gave us some words of wisdom with Murphy’s, “The best brilliance is the brilliance born not from someone ignorant.” Remember that, especially the next time you’re visiting Nepal with a big magic knife in your pocket.
So for making us laugh and giving us a few memorable lines to use decades later, we celebrate the 30 year anniversary of “The Golden Child.”