Blu-ray Review: The Golden Child

The Golden Child is a solid choice if you want to recommend a movie that encapsulates the full experience of the ‘80’s action-comedy film. There’s lots of laughs, plenty of over-the-top action, and quite a bit of sorcery and demonic characters mixed in just to cover all the bases. Watching the opening scene where we cut back and forth between a quiet ceremony taking place inside a temple, and Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance) and his minions are marching through the snowy mountains of Tibet accompanied by this ‘80s pop rock every time they’re on the screen is just hilarious.

Unintentionally so, of course, as it’s supposed to be, signalling to the viewer that danger is coming; but it’s just so random to cut to this not-so-ominous music over and over and over again (seriously, it happens about half a dozen times before the soldiers arrive at the temple) that it just ends up feeling silly now and sets the tone well for the ridiculous, yet fun adventure we’re about to embark on with our hero Chandler Jarrell (Murphy.)

For those who aren’t familiar with The Golden Child, the premise is basically that Chandler is a private detective who specializes in finding lost children and he also happens to be “The Chosen One” who is destined to rescue “The Golden Child” (J.L. Reate), who was kidnapped from a Tibetan temple in that crazy intro scene and taken to L.A. Now, Chandler doesn’t know he’s the Chosen One until Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) explains to him that it’s his destiny to rescue the Child as was written in a Tibetan scroll 400-years prior. He plays along (mainly to get closer to Nang, at first) but soon realizes that otherworldly magic is real and his destiny may be as well.

This is the first time the film has been remastered for Blu-ray and it looks fantastic. It doesn’t happen as often, but there are still times when a first-time Blu-ray release is simply a modernized version of the DVD copy with minimal upgrades; however, Paramount chose to go the same route they did with their Beverly Hills Cop Blu-ray release earlier in the year, remastering The Golden Child from a 4K film transfer and it really does look spectacular.

It’s also available on 4K digital, for those interested in going that route. I’d wager a physical 4K version could be possible down the road if they go the Beverly Hills Cop route, but at the same time The Golden Child isn’t Beverly Hills Cop in terms of popularity, so this Blu-ray release may be the cream of the crop for a while to come. Luckily it’s about as close to perfect as a fan could hope for in this format, so if this is it for years to come, so be it.

While it’s going to be a rare case where The Golden Child is anyone’s favourite Murphy film, it doesn’t deserve the critical lambasting it received back in the ‘80s either. It’s a funny movie that’ll have you laughing out loud, and is just an overall enjoyable movie to watch. The story isn’t the strongest but it’s passable thanks to the comedic beats it hits throughout, and while the chemistry between Murphy and Lewis is actually quite good, how quickly they fall in love over the course of the film is simply a plot device that happens quite often in films like this.

With that all said, The Golden Child is just a fun way to spend 90-minutes, and it’s got some great comedic Eddie Murphy moments that will leave you wanting to go back out on this crazy journey again as time goes on. Add on the fact that the film’s Blu-ray remastering leaves the film looking as good as it has since it was theatrically released back in 1986 and you really can’t go wrong.

Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:

As mentioned in the review the people at Paramount in charge of upgrading their libraries really deserve a raise – or at least all the praise that I throw their way, as they take movies that we’ve suffered through grainy DVD copies for years now and make them look like new.

On the audio side of things The Golden Child gets some 5.1 Dolby TrueHD love and it sounds great! The dialogue is clean and clear, and it works together in perfect harmony with the films score, soundtrack and effects. There’s a nice surround feel to a number of scenes, and it all just syncs up wonderfully. The last thing you want is a great picture and bad audio, but that’s anything but the case here, so fear not!

Special Features:

The Making of The Golden Child This is the main (and only) feature on the disc, which runs at just about 13 and a half minutes. It’s broken up into two roughly equal length sections:

The Chosen Ones – Here we see Director Michael Ritchie and writer David Feldman talking about how the picture came to be. We also see them touch on some aspects of production, as well as casting. Murphy and Lewis also touch on what it was like filming as well.

Daggers, Designs and Demons – The second part focuses on more of the special effects side of things, and Dance also joins in to talk about bringing Numspa to life. We see Murphy talking about how they never went to Tibet, and how the designers went and brought back ideas of how to make the sets in L.A. as close as they could to the real thing. It’s a short feature overall, but it’s a fun, quick watch and it’s certainly better than nothing!

Paramount Pictures Presents The Golden Child. Starring: Eddie Murphy, Charlotte Lewis, Charles Dance, J.L. Reate, Victor Wong. Running time: 94 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Dec. 1, 2020.

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