Film: The Golden Child

"I say I-I-I-I-I want the kniiife! ... please."

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.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: The Yellow Dragon gang. They're also apparently a bunch of gay guys due to their reactions to a video to the Hair Metal band RATT.
  • 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.
  • Arrested for Heroism: Invoked by Numspa, who attempts to have Jarrell arrested at the airport for smuggling the Ajanti dagger. Reality Ensues when Jarrell explains the rules of evidence to him.
  • Badass: Kee Nang is one heck of a martial artist. Jarrell isn't too bad either; he fights off an entire street gang using Good Old Fisticuffs, but has trouble when it comes to the supernatural.
  • Badass Longcoat: Numspa likes to dress in a formally archaic style, including a long coat, befitting his role as an Evil Sorcerer.
  • 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.
  • The Chosen One: Jarrell. He's not happy about it.
    Jarrell: Why can't someone choose me to go to the Bahamas?
  • The Chosen Zero
    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.
  • Crosscast Role: J. L. Reate is a girl.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Much of the dialogue among the heroic characters consists of them snarking at each other; Jarrell also quips sarcastic at Numspa, much to the latter's annoyance.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: This quote:
    Chandler Jarrell: Listen, this "Chosen One" thing; it's gone too far now, okay? This is—this is not normal. I'm not saying "no", but the "Chosen One" thing: too far.
    Dr. Hong: Could you please leave us for a moment?
    Chandler Jarrell: Yes, y'all talk it over, 'cause this is not a normal thing, and it should be discussed, because it's not normal.
  • Dream Sequence: Complete with a live Studio Audience, no less.
  • Dull Surprise: In the airport scene Charlotte Lewis is visibly on the verge of cracking up at Jarrell's antics as she drags him off, arguably the only time her facial expression ever changes.
  • Evil Brit: Charles Dance in Large Ham fashion as Sardo Numspa.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Numspa has access to a variety of demonic powers, fittingly since he is, in fact, a demon.
  • Fanservice:
    • Kicking a biker through a wall, Kee Nang breaks some water pipes. How unfortunate for the audience that her already-sheer white attire gets soaked, especially since she forgot her bra.
    • Kee Nang is seductively clothed in the dream sequence as she comes on to Jarrell.
    • Doing somersaults in a skirt? Hot. Being shot with a crossbow? Not so much.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The Golden Child is seen befriending birds and refuses to eat meat. Or blood.
  • 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?
  • Goo Goo Godlike: The Golden Child can restore life with his touch, make inanimate objects move, and remove evil thoughts from people. He likely could have freed himself, but he wasn't the violent type.
  • 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.
  • The Silent Bob: The Golden Child doesn't talk until Jarrell finds him (and then only briefly). Still, he's able to express his intentions rather well without doing so.
  • Snake People: The lady librarian behind the screen. One of her ancestors was raped by a dragon.
    Jarrell: Does that happen a lot where you're from?
  • Stay on the Path: Subverted and lampshaded.
    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.
  • Talking in Your Dreams
  • 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 flirted with him, "That part was dream!"
  • Trickster Mentor: The Old Man. His first appearance is as a street vendor who tricks Jarrell out of his money as a Secret Test of Character.
  • Verbal Tic: Sardo Numspa has trouble pronouncing the letter "J"; he always pronounces it more like a "Y". Lampshaded by Jarrell during the dream sequence.
    Numspa: I can see it is pointless talking to you, Mr. Jarrell.
    Jarrell: Why do you insist on mispronouncing my name, leaving the "J" silent? It's "Jarrell", with a "J".
  • The Voiceless: The Golden Child. Lampshaded by Jarrell near the end, after he finally says something.
    • Also Til, Numspa's henchman.
  • Wait Here: A Running Gag.
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: Jarrell lampshades this.
    Jarrell: "Only a man whose heart is pure can wield the knife, and only a man whose ass is narrow can get down these steps. And if mine is such an ass, then I shall have it."
  • Wicked Cultured: Numspa.
  • 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.
  • Yellowface: Charlotte Lewis as Kee Nang.
  • You Have Failed Me: Numspa kills a minion after he runs away from Jarrell and Kee Nang for his cowardice and possible betrayal.