In the 1980's, Americans begun a fascination with all things Buddhist. With artists like Richard Gere and the Beastie Boys hanging out with the Dalai Lama every weekend, we here in the U.S. became aware of the wonderful traditions and rich history of Tibetan Buddhism. Hollywood, never one to miss a trend, decided to jump on it by exploring the complexities of Buddhism with the guy from 48 Hours. Eddie Murphy was at the height of his career in 1986 and it looked like he could do no wrong. Then he made The Golden Child, a movie so bad it was like the as if the Chinese Red Army was smashing the monasteries once again. If ever there was a movie that qualified as awesomely horrible it is The Golden Child.
Murphy stars as Chandler Jarrell, a social worker that finds missing children. He's put on the case of a Dalai Lama-type little boy that has been kidnapped by Tywin Lannister...er...I mean Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance). It turns out that Numspa, (or brother Numpsy as Murphy calls him), is a demon that can end all goodness in the world if he kills the Golden Child with a magic knife. So, Murphy journeys to Nepal with the hot Nepalese girl who hired him to retrieve the dagger before Numpsy gets his hands on it. With the help of a disgusting monk played by the great Victor Wong, who Murphy calls Monty Hall for some reason, he retrieves the dagger. Then he must race against time to save the hot Nepalese girl, the Golden Child, and kill Numpsy in his badly animated claymation goofy demon form.
There is no way you could make this movie today. The flippant way it treats the Buddhist religion and Nepalese culture would simply not fly these days. Still, Murphy's performance is pretty solid. I mean, he basically Axel Foley fighting demons in Nepal, but still, if you find that funny you'll love The Golden Child. Charles Nance is so serious and menacing that the contrast with Murphy's goofiness is a thing of beauty. The script is asinine and the direction is nothing much to look at. But Murphy wears a weird leather hat through most of the movie. So, there's that.