The Golden Child is a modern fantasy film released in 1986, starring Eddie Murphy, Charles Dance, Charlotte Lewis, Victor Wong, and J.L. Reate as the titular Golden Child and co-produced by Industrial Light and Magic. It is a tongue-in-cheek take on the entire genre of Chosen One stories, complete with a Trickster Mentor, Card-Carrying Villain, and the lovable Karmic Trickster antics of Murphy.Chandler Jarrell (Murphy) is a private detective specializing in missing children who is recruited by Kee Nang (Lewis) to come to Tibet to locate and rescue the Golden Child, a boy with mystic powers who has been kidnapped by demonic forces. The Big Bad, a sorcerer named Sardo Numspa (Dance), wishes to kill the child to bring about the rule of evil on Earth, but must do so at a specific time with a specific ritual. Jarrell, a cynic and skeptic, is forced to come to terms with the supernatural elements of the world, as he is the Chosen One who is fated to protect the child. First, however, he must undergo his own training at the hands of "The Old Man", a Trickster Mentor played by Victor Wong, and recover the Ajanti dagger that is the only hope of killing Numspa... or the Golden Child.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
Action Girl: Kee Nang kicks serious ass; she's far more capable in combat than Jarrell, scoffing at his attempts to "protect" her.
The Apple Falls Far: In the chamber where the Ajanti dagger is kept, Jarrell finds himself walking over a deep dark pit, but he doesn't think it's really deep, so he drops a coin into the abyss, only to panic when he doesn't hear it hit the bottom.
Card-Carrying Villain: Numspa drips with cackling villainy, reveling in his evilness and tormenting people just because he can.
Catapult Nightmare: Jarrell awakens abruptly from a "dream" in which Numspa taunts him... and Kee Nang comes on to him.
Celibate Hero: Jarrell, involuntarily. He's assigned this task by the Old Man as a rite of purification, and one of the conditions is that he is not to tell Kee Nang about it.
Chekhov's Gun: While Chandler Jarrell is in Tibet, Kee Nang's father (masquerading as a beggar) sells him a medallion. Near the end of the movie a demon tries to stab Chandler with the Ajanti Dagger and the medallion deflects the blow.
Kala: [hidden behind a screen] Do you have any other questions? Jarrell: As a matter of fact I do. What are you doing this weekend, because your silhouette is kicking! [snip] Kala:This is the Chosen One? Doctor Hong: [looks embarrassed] Yes.
Cosmic Keystone: The Golden Child serves this role in the universe, keeping the forces of evil at bay through his mere existence.
Giving Them the Strip: A beggar takes a $100 bill from Jarrell instead of a $1 bill. Jarrell grabs him and tries to make him give the $100 bill back, but the old man disappears, leaving Chandler holding his clothes.
Jarrell: Has anybody seen a little naked old man running around with a hundred dollars?
Guile Hero: Jarrel uses his wits frequently to overcome the problems he encounters.
Heel Face Door Slam: Til is helpful, but he doesn't last long after the Golden Child touches him.
Hell on Earth: If the Golden Child is killed, Numspa's demon buddies will invade the Earth and take over.
Jarrell: It ain't that far off.
Hero Harasses Helpers: After facing the Yellow Dragons, Chandler tells Kee Nang "Why'd you come in here? Didn't I tell you not to... I told you to stay in the car. Next time I tell you to do something, you do it!".
Mook-Face Turn: The Golden Child does this to two of Numspa's minions: once when they try to kidnap him, and again to one of his guards. His simple physical touch is enough to convert them from evil. Which is why Numspa tells them not to let him touch them.
Mysterious Informant: Someone calls Jarrell of the missing girl's whereabouts, and didn't give his name.
My Greatest Failure: There was an ongoing subplot where Jarrell was searching for a missing child named Cheryll Mosely. He went as far as to hassle other people on the TV show to get them to shut up in order to announce the missing poster and the number for information regarding her whereabouts. He finds her in an abandoned house sprayed with Tibetian graffiti. However she was found dead of blood loss. Her blood was later used in an attempt to impurifiy the Golden Child, by putting it in his Oatmeal. But the child himself is too wise to fall for it.
Oh Crap: When Jarrell bursts in on Numspa in the middle of his ritual, provoking the latter to go One-Winged Angel.
Jarrell: I see you're busy. I'll come back another time.
Also when he realizes "there's no ground" after dropping a quarter and not hearing it land.
Old Man: Remember to stay on the path! Jarrell: I heard you the first time! Let's just hope the path stays under me! ... Jarrell: I thought you said to stay on the path! Old Man: Yes, but you must know when to break the rules!
Taking the Bullet: Kee Nang, as Jarrell is about to be shot by Numspa. With a crossbow... ouch.
Tempting Fate: When Jarrell is taking the test to obtain the Dagger he says "This is a piece of cake!" Then it got worse.
That Was Not A Dream: Chandler has a dream of taunting the Big Bad exactly like you'd expect Eddie Murphy to do, who burns a three-inch scar into the inside of his arm for his chutzpah. When he wakes up, the scar's still there. But the part where Kee Nang stripped and flirted with him, "That part was dream!"
Wise Beyond Their Years: The Golden Child, of course — as a Buddha figure he's pretty much got a lock on this trope. For example, he doesn't eat the oatmeal since he knows they're trying to impurify him.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Jarrell is prepared for the whole "magical child fighting demons" thing to be a setup for a scam of some kind, and is not about to be fooled by all the trickery and mumbo jumbo. Turns out he's a wee bit wrong.