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Paramount Presents: The Golden Child (Blu-ray + Digital)
Murphy stars as Chandler "Mr. Yarrell" Jarrell, a youth worker who specializes in finding lost children. Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) approaches him to find and rescue the titular Golden Child, essentially a bodhisattva-esque boy who embodies compassion, from Sardo "Numsie" Numspa (Charles Dance).
The movie is an insane, weird concept. Eddie Murphy Eddie-Murphys his way through pseudo-Buddhist spirituality and nominally-Himalayan culture. The most prominent East Asian character is played by an actress who is a quarter Iraqi as her ancestry closest to the region and the film plays up the "otherness of the Orient". Still, the majority of the laughs come from Murphy playing against characters who are essentially in a standard good-versus-evil-hero's-quest movie. Charles Dance in particular has fantastic chemistry with Murphy and you get the sense that the Royal Shakespearean and professional Dance may have been channeling a seething irritation for the irreverent and improvisational Murphy. The special feature interviews lend a little credence to this theory. The film also features great supporting performances by James Hong and Victor Wong, the latter getting some great shots off on Murphy's character.
The film went through extensive post-production work, including multiple scores and tonal adjustments. Both Murphy and Dance condemned the film and it was a flop upon release. It manages to transcend these issues and be genuinely great and while some of the cultural stuff has not aged fantastically, it's far from the issues of Murphy's stand-up sets in Delirious and Raw.
I'd be remiss if I did not mention the fact that this film has been the source for more running jokes in my family than any other movie, especially the line "I just want some chips" (which is just the prelude to a much funnier joke about proper grilling technique).
Special FeaturesThe disc comes with two special features, neither of which is anything to write home about and include both HD and SD snippets. Both "The Chosen Ones" and "Daggers, Design, and Demons" have the cast and director talking about what makes the film unique. Charlotte Lewis offers some backstory for her character, which gives her a bit more depth than what's in the film, and Dance contrasts his working style with Murphy, but other than that, they're both pretty standard "HBO First Look" type of commercials.
Audio & Video
Both components are totally fine, given this is the first time the movie has gotten a Blu-ray release. This reviewer is so used to seeing the film on VHS, that the colors and clarity almost look too vivid, but discerning tastes will find the sensory experience acceptable.
Definitely check out this forgotten gem of Murphy's, even if it does boil down to "Beverly Hills Cop meets Big Trouble in Little China".