AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Golden Child
Director: Michael Ritchie (Dir)
Release Date:   1986
Duration (in mins):  93
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Cast: Eddie Murphy  (Chandler Jarrell)
  Charles Dance  (Sardo Numspa)
  Charlotte Lewis  (Kee Nang)

Summary: In present day Tibet, while monks witness The Golden Child restoring life to a dead bird, the evil Sardo Numspa and his followers storm their temple. After trampling the monks, they kidnap The Golden Child, taking him away in a basket cage. On the streets of Los Angeles, Chandler Jarrell, a freelance social worker, posts notices offering a reward to find a missing 16-year old girl named Cheryl Mosely. As Chandler calls attention to Mosely’s disappearance on a local television talk show, a Tibetan woman, Kee Nang, watches with great interest and takes notes. Later, she approaches Chandler at a playground to request that he locate a child that was kidnapped five days ago in northeastern Tibet. As Chandler remains skeptical, Kee Nang explains that this special child is destined to save the world. 400 years ago, the Nechung Oracle predicted his kidnapping and transport to the City of Angels, and, as written on the ancient scroll she unfolds, a man who is “no angel” would save The Child. Kee tells Chandler that he is this man. Later, at an abandoned house, the police and Chandler inspect the site where Cheryl Mosely’s body has been discovered. Chandler photographs various pieces of evidence: a dragon tattoo on the girl’s body, cryptic graffiti on the walls and a bowl of oatmeal spiked with blood. After Chandler notices that Kee Na is trailing him as he investigates the case, he learns from her that Cheryl’s death and The Golden Child’s abduction are connected. The graffiti on the walls of the abandoned house indicates the kidnappers’ attempt to restrain The Golden Child’s good powers. According to Kee, they must additionally surround The Child on four sides with evil followers so that he will not escape as an astral being. Chandler cannot believe what he is hearing, but nonetheless follows Kee to the next step. She takes Chandler to the basement of Doctor Hong’s Chinese herb shop, where a mysterious, 300-year old Tibetan librarian, Kala, speaks from behind a screen. She relates to Chandler the significance of The Golden Child, which is compassion. Every 1,000 years, a golden or perfect child is born who will protect mankind from eternal cruelty. The librarian does not know the specific identity of the kidnappers, only that they want the world to embrace evil. She further clarifies that if The Child consumes the blood in the oatmeal, its impurity would make him vulnerable, and thus all of humanity would be at risk. After Chandler pretends to flirt with the librarian, she becomes rattled and questions whether Chandler really is “The Chosen One,” the one who will rescue The Child. Embarrassed, Kee and Doctor Hong confirm that he is “The Chosen One.” When Kee drives Chandler home that evening, he invites her inside for a drink, but she seems unimpressed with his jokes and declines. At a warehouse, four of Numspa’s evil guards sit in a large circle around The Golden Child to keep his spirit caged. When one of the guards falls asleep, The Child momentarily escapes as an astral vision and floats outside Chandler’s window, releasing the bird he revived at the monastery. Chandler watches in disbelief, then receives a phone tip that Cheryl was with a group of bikers in Pacoima known as The Yellow Dragons. The next day, after finding their hideout, Chandler, with the help of Kee’s fighting skills, subdues the bikers and learns that Cheryl was sold to Tommy Tong who needed her blood in a deal with the devil. At Tong’s restaurant, Kee and Chandler fight off Tong who escapes into an alley where he is bludgeoned to death by Numspa. Back at the warehouse, Numspa transports himself to hell, where the voice of his lord congratulates him for killing the potential traitor, Tommy Tong, but demands that Numspa destroy The Child soon, using the powerful Ajanti dagger. The dagger is the only means available, but it is closely guarded, so the voice suggests that Numspa must first trade The Child for the dagger and then employ it to kill The Child. That night, Chandler has a dream that is both real and imagined, where Numspa appears and offers to exchange The Child for the Ajanti dagger and then burns a scar down Chandler’s arm so he will remember their conversation. After Chandler awakens, he returns to Kala who tells him that the sacred dagger of Ajanti killed the second Golden Child and that Chandler must use the weapon to lure Numspa into releasing the current Golden Child, but must never allow the dagger to fall into Numspa’s hands. Doctor Wong reminds Chandler that since he is “The Chosen One,” he is the only one who can obtain the dagger in Tibet. That evening, Kee finally accepts Chandler’s offer to come inside, and they spend the night together. The next morning she convinces him to fulfill his destiny, and they fly to Nepal. In Kathmandu, while Kee arranges their journey into Tibet, Chandler buys a pendant from “The Old Man,” a street peddler who swindles him out of a $100 bill, and then vanishes. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Numspa transfers The Golden Child to a new hideout, at a mansion. Across rivers and mountains, Kee and Chandler journey to the temple that guards the Ajanti dagger, and seek permission of the temple’s high priest, who happens to be the street peddler Chandler encountered in Kathmandu. The priest instructs Chandler on how to navigate the precarious corridor across a bottomless pit that leads to the dagger, and using his wits, Chandler succeeds in procuring it from a cave of fire. After the test, Chandler asks the priest’s advice on proposing marriage to Kee. The priest, who happens to be Kee’s father, speaks with his daughter privately and tells her that she has his blessing to follow her heart. Having managed to sneak the dagger out of Nepal, Numspa is waiting for them at the Los Angeles airport with a ploy to have Chandler arrested for stealing the dagger, but, using his comedic personality as a distraction, Chandler spoils Numspa’s plan. Doctor Hong takes Chandler, Kee and the dagger to an isolated hideaway for safety, but at night Chandler and Kee must flee when Numspa’s men attack and seize the dagger. Numspa fires a crossbow at Chandler, but Kee shields him, taking the arrow in her back. Kee’s body is taken to the herb shop, where Kala reassures Chandler that The Golden Child can save Kee’s life, as long as sunlight can reach her body. Doctor Wong adds that Chandler has time to find The Child, as Numspa cannot use the dagger until night. At the mansion hideaway, The Child tricks the evil follower, Til, to come close to the basket cage so that he can touch him, thereby converting him to the good side. While driving, Chandler sees The Golden Child’s bird again and follows it to the mansion hideaway where he reclaims the dagger and rescues The Child, with the assistance of the new ally, Til. Numspa reacts by transforming into his true form, a demon. Chandler and The Child speed away in the car, chased by the flying demon into an abandoned industrial building. As the demon destroys the building around them, Chandler and The Child escape, leaving the dagger behind, and they drive to the herb shop to save Kee. Wielding the dagger, the demon confronts them in the basement of the herb shop, but Chandler’s pendant from Kathmandu shields him from the thrust of the blade, and the dagger hits the ground. The Golden Child uses his mind to send it to Chandler, enabling him to kill the demon. Using a ray of the sun, The Child revives Kee. Later, strolling in a park overlooking Los Angeles, Kee assures Chandler that she will only be away for two weeks while she escorts The Golden Child back to Tibet. Chandler then gives The Child a baseball cap to avoid being teased about his shaved head, as the bird flies down to rest on The Child’s shoulder.  

Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp.
Production Company: Paramount Pictures Corp.
Feldman/Meeker Production
Eddie Murphy Productions, Inc.
Industrial Light & Magic
Director: Michael Ritchie (Dir)
  Peter Norman (Dir, 2d unit, Los Angeles/2d unit, Nepal)
  Gordon A. Webb (Unit prod mgr)
  Shama Habibullah (Prod mgr, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Tom Mack (1st asst dir)
  Hans Beimler (1st asst dir, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Emmitt-Leon O`Neil (2d asst dir)
  Jeff Rafner (2d asst dir, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  W. Alexander Ellis (2d 2d asst dir)
  Ajit Kumar (Asst dir, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Arish Fyzee (Asst dir, 2d unit, Nepal)
Producer: Edward S. Feldman (Prod)
  Robert D. Wachs (Prod)
  Richard Tienken (Exec prod)
  Charles R. Meeker (Exec prod)
  Dennis Feldman (Co-prod)
  Gordon A. Webb (Assoc prod)
Writer: Dennis Feldman (Wrt)

Subject Major: Good and evil
Subject Minor: Airplanes
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Los Angeles (CA)--International Airport
  Martial arts
  Motorcycle gangs
  Priests, Buddhist
  Social workers

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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