The Golden Child

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The Golden Child
Golden child movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed byMichael Ritchie
Produced byEdward S. Feldman
Robert D. Wachs
Written byDennis Feldman
Music byMichel Colombier
John Barry
CinematographyDonald E. Thorin
Edited byRichard A. Harris
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 12, 1986 (1986-12-12)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million
Box office$79.8 million (domestic)

The Golden Child is a 1986 American fantasy comedy film directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Eddie Murphy as Chandler Jarrell, who is informed that he is "The Chosen One" and is destined to save "The Golden Child", the savior of all humankind.

The film was produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures[1] and received a total gross of $79,817,937 at the United States (US) box office.[2]


In a remote temple in Tibet, a young boy with mystical abilities – the Golden Child – receives badges of station and demonstrates his power to the monks of the temple by reviving a dead eastern rosella, which becomes a constant companion and familiar. A mysterious man, Sardo Numspa, has his men break into the temple, slaughter the monks and abduct the boy.

A young woman, Kee Nang, watches a Los Angeles TV show in which social worker Chandler Jarrell talks about his latest case, a missing girl named Cheryll Mosley. Kee seeks him out and informs him of the kidnapping of the Golden Child and that he is the "chosen one" who would save the Child. Chandler does not take this seriously, even after the bird begins following him and seeing an astral projection of the Child. The next day, Cheryll Mosley is found dead near an abandoned house smeared with Tibetan graffiti and a pot full of blood-soaked oatmeal. Kee reveals to Chandler that this house was a holding place for the Child and introduces him to Doctor Hong, a mystic expert, and Kala (a creature half dragon, half woman, who remains hidden behind a screen).

Chandler and Kee track down a motorcycle gang, the Yellow Dragons, which Cheryll had joined, and Chinese restaurant owner Tommy Tong, a henchman of Numspa, to whom Cheryll had been "sold" for her blood, a way to make the Child vulnerable to earthly harm. However, Tong is killed by Numspa as a potential traitor. Still not taking the case too seriously, Chandler is drawn by Numspa into a controlled dream, where he receives a burn mark on his arm. Numspa presents his demands: the Ajanti Dagger (a mystic weapon capable of killing the Child) in exchange for the boy. Chandler finally agrees to help, and he and Kee spend the night together.

Chandler and Kee travel to Tibet, where Chandler is swindled by an old amulet seller, later revealed as the High Priest of the temple where the dagger is kept hidden (and, subsequently, Kee's father). In order to obtain the blade, Chandler has to pass a test: an obstacle course in a bottomless cavern whilst carrying a glass of water without spilling a drop. With luck and wits, Chandler recovers the blade and even manages to bring it past customs into the United States.

That night, Numspa and his henchmen attack Chandler and Kee. The Ajanti Dagger is lost to the villains, and Kee takes a crossbow bolt meant for Chandler, dying in his arms while confessing her love for him. Doctor Hong and Kala offer him hope: as long as the sun shines upon Kee, the Child might be able to save her. With the help of the Child's familiar, Chandler locates Numspa's hideout, retrieves the dagger with the help of Til, one of Numspa's men converted to good by the Child, and frees the boy. When Chandler confronts Numspa, he reveals himself as a demon. Chandler and the Child escape, only to be trapped inside a warehouse. Chandler loses the dagger when the warehouse collapses, with Numspa buried under falling masonry.

Chandler and the Child head to Doctor Hong's shop, where Kee is being kept. As the two approach Kee's body, a badly injured but berserk Numspa attacks Chandler, but the amulet the Old Man sold Chandler blasts the dagger from Numspa's hand. The Child uses his magic to place the dagger back into Chandler's hands, and Chandler stabs Numspa through the heart, destroying him. The Child then uses the last rays of sunlight and his powers to bring Kee back from the dead. The three later take a walk discussing the Child's return to Tibet.



Dennis Feldman, a professional photographer whose only writing credit was Just One of the Guys, wrote a script called The Rose of Tibet, which he planned as "a Raymond Chandler movie with supernatural elements."[3] It attracted Hollywood's attention and after a bidding war Paramount Pictures purchased the script for $300,000.[4]


The score[edit]

The Golden Child: Music from the Motion Picture
Film score by
ReleasedJuly 12, 2011
GenreSymphonic score, synthpop, R&B, soft rock, classic rock
LabelLa-La Land Records/Capitol Records
ProducerLukas Kendall

Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future) was originally set to provide the film score but turned the project down. Paramount then turned to John Barry, who had just come off his award-winning score for Out of Africa. However, during post-production, Barry also left the project when both differences with the producers and test screening feedback presented considerable challenges for the composer. The test audience reaction had led the producers to consider replacing Barry's score with new music by Michel Colombier that, in contrast to Barry's work, was mostly "synthpop" (although there were some brief orchestral passages throughout). However, whilst Barry was ultimately superseded, some of his musical cues remain in the final cut of the film and one track, "Wisdom of the Ages", appeared on the first soundtrack release issued by Capitol Records.

In 2011, La-La Land Records released a limited edition 3-CD soundtrack set containing the entirety of both Barry's mostly unused score (on disc one), and Colombier's final theatrical score (on disc two), in addition to an exclusive Barry-composed song, sung by emerging composer Randy Edelman. The songs that had been released on Capitol's first soundtrack in 1986 were also featured in the set.


The following pieces of music appear in the film alongside Colombier's score:


Released in December 1986, The Golden Child was a box office success.[5] It earned USD$79,817,937[6] in the United States alone, making it the eighth biggest film of the year. "My pictures make their money back," Murphy remarked in 1989. "No matter how I feel, for instance, about The Golden Child – which was a piece of shit – the movie made more than $100 million. So who am I to say it sucks?"[7]

However, the film did not meet Paramount’s expectations when compared to Murphy's previous film, Beverly Hills Cop (1984), which garnered USD$234,760,478[8] at the US box office.

The film received negative reviews from critics, and it holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a 3 out of 4 stars and stated "The Golden Child may not be the Eddie Murphy movie we were waiting for, but it will do. It is funnier, more assured and more tailored to Murphy than "Beverly Hills Cop" and it shows a side of his comic persona that I don't think has been much appreciated: his essential underlying sweetness. Murphy's comedy is not based on hurt and aggression, but on affection and an understanding that comes from seeing right through the other characters."[9] However, Leonard Maltin's publication "TV Movies" gives the film a BOMB rating, stating, "It was a box-office hit, but have you ever met anyone who actually liked it?"


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (February 15, 1987). "COMEDIES WITHOUT LAUGHS MERIT CRIES OF PROTEST". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  2. ^ "Box office / business for The Golden Child (1986)". IMDb., Inc. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  3. ^ The Starlog Group (1 September 1995). "Starlog Magazine Issue 218" – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ FRIENDLY, DAVID T. (15 June 1985). "Action-comedy Is Next For Murphy". Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via LA Times.
  5. ^ "'Kong Lives' Dies At Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  6. ^ Box Office Mojo (7 May 2012). "The Golden Child". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  7. ^ Zehme, Bill (August 24, 1989). "The Rolling Stone interview: Eddie Murphy". Rolling Stone. p. 130.
  8. ^ Box Office Mojo (7 May 2012). "Beverly Hills Cop". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  9. ^ "The Golden Child (1986)". Roger Ebert. 1986-12-12. Retrieved 2018-10-01.

External links[edit]