The Golden Child – Paramount Presents (Blu-ray Review)

With The Golden Child, I once again get to wonder, “When did Paramount become Shout Select?” Given the expansive library of one of the oldest Hollywood studios, I have been very intrigued by the mix of classic and leftfield choices that have come out under the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray release banner. That said, what better way to finally see the debut of this 1986 Eddie Murphy fantasy film than with a new HD presentation that is quite stellar, even if the movie is a bit too “Beverly Hills Cop: Tibet.” That said, having not seen this film since I was 10, it was a good chance to revisit the feature, let alone admire the work done to restore the look of the Chosen One.


The Golden Child stars Eddie Murphy as Chandler Jarrell, an LA-based private detective specializing in finding missing children. With an opening hinting at something dangerous taking place in the east, backed by the villainous Charles Dance, we learn a gifted child with special powers (J.L. Reate) is in danger. Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) eventually finds Chandler and makes him aware that he is, in fact, the Chosen One and is the one man who can find this Golden Child and save the world.

Putting Best Defense aside, Murphy was on an amazing run at this point in his life. He had debuted in 48 Hours, followed that up with Trading Places, and came away with a monster hit in the form of Beverly Hills Cop. The man could not lose, so why not put him in a wacky fantasy film? He didn’t end up doing Ghostbusters, but why take the supporting part when he could lead something like this?

Well, The Golden Child isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. It’s pulled a bit too far in too many directions. Does this film want to be an action-comedy, a detective story, or a fantasy-thriller? From what’s been said, the original script leaned more on mashing up the world of a Raymond Chandler-type hero with the fantasy element. That sounds pretty neat, but Paramount apparently got gun shy and decided to add in more scenes of Murphy doing very Eddie Murphy-like things. These aren’t bad, as it’s fun to watch Murphy riff, but the film loses out on having a consistent tone.

Director Michael Ritchie (Fletch, The Bad News Bears) does what he can, but one can’t help but think what would have happened if John Carpenter ended up collaborating with Murphy (he was one of the original candidates, along with George Miller). Given the very similar Big Trouble in Little China of that same year, I have an idea of what that would have looked like. That said, ‘Big Trouble’ and The Golden Child would be a fun double feature.

No, it’s not as strong a film as the real Murphy classics (he famously trashed The Golden Child while promoting Coming to America), but there is the spirit of a fun 80s movie here, which comes from the music video-like editing and song choices, along with the melding of Murphy’s wit and the special effects. When the film wants to be funny, it is. Having characters turn into wild creatures or delving into the mystical realm for the sake of something wild is also effective enough.

The story offers little that’s new. Without the strength of what originally must have been a smooth detective story with added twists, there’s a lack of momentum that brings things down a notch compared with stronger Murphy efforts. Additionally, Dance can be an intimidating presence, but he tends to be pretty hit or miss when he engages with genre material (no matter how serious his facial expressions are). Lewis is more successful, as she has good enough chemistry with Murphy. Plus, the presence of Victor Wong as a scoundrel is always fun.

A modest box office hit at the time, based purely on star power, but certainly not a hit with the critics, The Golden Child is not exactly a cult favorite either. Still, it has enough going for it to see what it’s like when combining a red-hot star, like Murphy in the 80s, with a wacky fantasy story. I wish it was more consistent, but it’s not a long movie, works in the moments it needs to, and features a magic-amplified Pepsi can dancing to entertain henchmen and the Golden Child at one point, so there’s enough to like. Maybe not the Chosen One of movies, but fun.



Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: As made clear by the branding, this is another “Paramount Presents” title with a brand new 4K film transfer, and the results are quite stunning. This is very much a film made in the 80s, but you get a great amount of boldness in all regards, as the transfer preserves the look while enhancing all the detail to be found in both the contemporary settings and the more fantastical ones. Yes, the effects-based stuff looks its age, but you can still get a sense of the effort that went into what was neat for the time.

Depth: Depth of field is captured well here, with a level of dimensionality that comes across effectively. Characters move fluidly, with no issues to be found.

Black Levels: Shadow and black levels are terrific throughout. When the film heads indoors, we get a chance to see how strong these areas of the film are thanks to a lack of crush. One sequence in Tibet, in particular, really shines in this regard.

Color Reproduction: Colors look great. Costumes, in particular, are given a chance to pop with color. Some well-lit rooms and the bright LA atmosphere really get a chance to show off the balance.

Flesh Tones: Character detail is strong enough. In the close-ups of Murphy, you can see how there may be preserved grain on display, but it’s all been cleaned up to provide the right amount of clarity.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.



Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, German, French, Japanese

Dynamics: For a film with a good dose of special effects, it is nice to see The Golden Child arrive well-equipped with its 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix. The balance between Murphy’s dialogue and otherworldly action plays well, along with the atmosphere found once Murphy heads overseas.  Score and other elements are important, but it’s all handled quite appropriately for the film we are watching, which is reflected well in this audio track.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: There are plenty of good moments to bring life to the LFE channel. Fights, creature moments, and more help the film bring into nice moments for the subwoofer to work with.

Surround Sound Presentation: The film is front and center-focused, but you have plenty to go on as far as the surrounding atmosphere. The balance is great, as you are never at a loss for what’s taking place.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is heard loud and clear.



The Golden Child comes with a slipcover that folds open to reveal the original poster art. As far as extras, Michael Ritchie has passed on, and Murphy and Dance both aren’t the biggest fans of the film. Lewis didn’t come back around either. As this hasn’t been a release with much regard over the years, there’s really nothing new to offer beyond old featurettes.

Features Include:

  • The Making of the Golden Child HD – Two brief EPKs going over the making of the film with the cast and crew. It says HD, but these are not remastered at all.
  • The Chosen Ones (HD, 6:48) – More of a focus on Murphy and the cast.
  • Daggers, Design and Demons (HD, 6:37) – A focus on the production.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:01) ­– It’s actually sad the original teaser is not included, as it’s a fun joke before any footage was shot.
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film



The Golden Child may not be a lost or underrated classic, but it’s a serviceable Eddie Murphy that’s made better because of Murphy. I only wish the movie around him could have figured itself out more. Regardless, the “Paramount Presents” label is the real deal for these remastered Blu-ray releases, as the technical presentation is excellent. Not much in the way of extras, but still worth checking out for fans of 80s Murphy.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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