AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
The Golden Child
Director: Michael Ritchie (Dir)
Release Date:   1986
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 Dec 1986
Production Date:   began 18 Feb 1986
Duration (in mins):   93
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Eddie Murphy (Chandler Jarrell)  
  Starring Charles Dance (Sardo Numspa)  
  Starring Charlotte Lewis (Kee Nang)  
  Starring Victor Wong (The Old Man)  
  Starring Randall "Tex" Cobb (Til)  
  Starring James Hong (Doctor Hong)  
  Starring Shakti (Kala)  
  Introducing J.L. Reate (The Golden Child) as
    Tau Logo (Yu)  
    Tiger Chung Lee (Khan)  
    Pons Maar (Fu)  
    Peter Kwong (Tommy Tong)  
    Wally Taylor (Detective Boggs)  
    Eric Douglas (Yellow Dragon)  
    Charles Levin (TV host)  
    Kenneth "Fruitty" Frith, Jr. (Friend at Pink's)  
    Bennett Ohta (Herb shop clerk)  
    Kinko Tsubouchi (Old Chinese woman)  
    Govind Chipalu (Jabbering old man)  
    Chantara Nop (Security man #1)  
    Phok Ok (Security man #2)  
    Bob Tzudiker (Businessman/Customer)  
    Cliffy Magee (Russell)  
    Jeff Soo Hoo (Waiter)  
    Bindra Joshi (Chicken lady on plane)  
    Judy Hudson (Tortoise lady)  
    Ron Packham (Buttonman)  
    Marilyn Schreffler (Voice of Kala)  
    Frank Welker (Voice of the Thing)  

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.  

Production Company: Paramount Pictures Corp. (A Gulf + Western Company)
  Feldman/Meeker Production  
  Eddie Murphy Productions, Inc.  
  Industrial Light & Magic  
Production Text: A Feldman/Meeker Production in Association with Eddie Murphy Productions, Inc.
A Michael Ritchie Film
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp. (A Gulf + Western Company)
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)
Photography: Donald E. Thorin (Dir of photog)
  Robert Thomas (Dir of photog, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Michael Gershman (Cam op)
  Rob Hahn (Cam op)
  Robert Marta (Cam op, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Dan Gold (1st asst photog)
  Donald E. Thorin, Jr. (1st asst photog)
  Mike Weldon (1st asst photog, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Marc Staton (2d asst photog)
  Greg Luntzel (2d asst photog, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Rajesh Joshi (Asst photog, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Rohinton Behramshan (Asst photog, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Jeffrey Thorin (Film loader)
  James Boyle (Chief lighting tech)
  Thomas Hayes (Chief lighting tech, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Ed Nedin (Asst chief lighting tech)
  Murphy Wiltz (Asst chief lighting tech)
  Ralph Johnson (Asst chief lighting tech, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Dan Jordan (1st company grip)
  Charles Saldana (1st company grip, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Joe Hicks (2d company grip)
  Edmond Wright (2d company grip)
  Al Contreras (2d company grip)
  Carlos Gallardo (2d company grip, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Don Schmitz (Dolly grip)
  Michael Chaney (Dolly grip)
  Chausuddin (Dolly grip, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Bruce Talamon (Still photog)
Art Direction: J. Michael Riva (Prod des)
  Lynda Paradise (Art dir)
  Cameron Birnie (Asst art dir)
  John Johnson (Prod illustrator)
  Tom Southwell (Prod illustrator)
  Kalyan Singh (Art dept liaison, 2d unit, Nepal)
Film Editor: Richard A. Harris (Ed)
  Christopher Rouse (Asst film ed)
  Nicole Shugrue (Apprentice film ed)
  MGM Negative Cutting (Negative cutting)
Set Decoration: Marvin March (Set dec)
  Barry Bedig (Prop master)
  David Moll (Prop master, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Robin Chukherburti (Prop master, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Gary Kieldrup (Asst prop master)
  Ken Orme (Asst prop master)
  Virginia Randolph (Set des)
  Judy Cammer (Set des)
  George Stokes (Const coord)
  James Orendorff (Const supv)
  John Clayton (Const supv)
  Steve Conrow (Propmaker)
  Roger Lipsey (Propmaker)
  Sam Mendoza (Propmaker)
  Ray Rarick (Propmaker)
  Bill Roberts (Propmaker)
  Ralph Votaw, Jr. (Propmaker)
  Jack Eberhart (Leadperson)
  Roger Frost (Leadperson)
  Joyce Gordon (Prop personnel)
  Mario Costillo (Prop personnel)
  Willie Wiles (Prop personnel)
  Gavin Cowie (Paint supv)
  Rod Nunnally (Prod painter)
  Ron Rankin (Laborer supv)
  Ralph Votaw, Sr. (Laborer supv)
  Jess Anscott (Greensperson)
  Chris Walas, Inc. (Demon props by)
Costumes: Wayne Finkelman (Cost des)
  Eddie Marks (Cost supv)
  Shari Feldman (Women's key cost)
  Jim Lapidus (Men's key cost)
  Chuck Velasco (Cost)
  Antonio Martinez (Cost)
  Patricia Trbovich (Cost, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Namita Chukherburti (Ward, 2d unit, Nepal)
Music: Michel Colombier (Mus/Orch)
  Jeff Carson (Supv mus ed)
  Segue Music (Mus ed)
  Robbie Buchanan (Orch)
  Al Woodbury (Orch)
  Dan Wallin (Mus score mixer)
  Frank Wolf (Mus score mixer)
  Record Plant Scoring (Mus rec at)
Sound: Jim Alexander (Prod sd mixer)
  Greg Agalsoff (Boom personnel)
  Gary Thread (Boom personnel)
  Ronald A. Jacobs (Supv sd ed)
  Cecelia Hall (Supv sd ed)
  Marshall Winn (Sd ed)
  Kimberly Harris (Sd ed)
  Julia Evershade (Sd ed)
  Mike Dobie (Sd ed)
  Juno J. Ellis (Supv ADR ed)
  Jay Kamen (ADR ed)
  Pamela Bentkowski (Supv foley ed)
  Gary Wright (Foley ed)
  John Paul Fasal (Spec sd eff created by)
  Judee Gustafson (Asst sd ed)
  Mark Pappas (Asst sd ed)
  Robert J. Litt (Re-rec mixer)
  Gregg Landaker (Re-rec mixer)
  Elliot Tyson (Re-rec mixer)
Special Effects: Ken Ralston (Visual eff supv)
  Pamela Easley (Visual eff coord)
  Cliff Wenger (Spec eff supv)
  Danny Gill (Spec eff)
  Mark Noel (Spec eff)
  Eric Roberts (Spec eff)
  Gintar Repecka (Spec eff)
  Boss Film Corporation (Titles and opticals by)
  Industrial Light & Magic, Marin County, CA (Visual eff prod at)
  Phil Tippett (Demon supv, ILM)
  Harry Walton (Go motion supv, ILM)
  Tom St. Amand (Go motion anim, ILM)
  Bill Kimberlin (Chief visual eff ed, ILM)
  Ed Jones (Optical supv, ILM)
  Steve Gawley (Supv modelmaker, ILM)
  Ellen Lichtwardt (Anim supv, ILM)
  Chris Evans (Matt dept supv, ILM)
  Warren Franklin (General mgr, ILM)
  Laurie Vermont (Visual eff coord, ILM)
  Randy Dutra (Demon des and sculpted by, ILM)
  Kim Marks (Go motion cam op, ILM)
  Terry Chostner (Go motion cam op, ILM)
  Scott Farrar (Eff cam op, ILM)
  Stewart Barbee (Eff cam op, ILM)
  Patrick McArdle (Asst cam op, ILM)
  Robert Hill (Asst cam op, ILM)
  Toby Heindel (Asst cam op, ILM)
  David Hanks (Asst cam op, ILM)
  Deborah Morgan (Asst cam op, ILM)
  James Lim (Optical cam op, ILM)
  Jim Hagedorn (Optical cam op, ILM)
  John Alexander (Optical cam op, ILM)
  Tom Rosseter (Optical lineup, ILM)
  Brad Kuehn (Optical lineup, ILM)
  Michael Pangrazio (Matte artist, ILM)
  Sean Joyce (Matte artist, ILM)
  Caroleen Green (Matte artist, ILM)
  Wade Childress (Matte photog, ILM)
  Terry Peck (Asst eff ed, ILM)
  Kim Costalupes (Asst eff ed, ILM)
  Jeff Doran (Processing, ILM)
  Louis Rivera (Processing, ILM)
  Tamia Marg (Demon fabrication, ILM)
  Sheila Duignan (Demon fabrication, ILM)
  Blair Clark (Demon armatures, ILM)
  Conrad Bonderson (Demon armatures, ILM)
  William Beck (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Michael Fulmer (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Ira Keeler (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Victoria Lewis (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Claudia Mullaly (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Wesley Seeds (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Chuck Wiley (Modelmaker, ILM)
  Rob Burton (Anim cam op, ILM)
  John Knoll (Anim cam op, ILM)
  John Armstrong (Anim, ILM)
  Gordon Baker (Anim, ILM)
  Nick Stern (Anim, ILM)
  Sean Turner (Anim, ILM)
  Jack Mongovan (Rotoscope artist, ILM)
  Barbara Brennan (Rotoscope artist, ILM)
  Joanne Hafner (Rotoscope artist, ILM)
  Cris Hammond (Storyboard artist, ILM)
  Kerry Nordquist (Still dept, ILM)
  Roberto McGrath (Still dept, ILM)
  Peter Stolz (Pyro tech, ILM)
  Bob Finley, Jr. (Pyro tech, ILM)
  Bill Pelkey (Pyro tech, ILM)
  Cynthia Woodbyrne (Prod asst, ILM)
  Dave Heron (Stage tech, ILM)
  Carl Assmus (Stage tech, ILM)
  Bob Finley, III (Stage tech, ILM)
  Craig Mohagen (Stage tech, ILM)
  Cheryl Durham (Prod accountant, ILM)
  Pamela Kaye (Prod accountant, ILM)
  Jody Muggenthaler (Prod accountant, ILM)
  Karen Dube (Prod secy, ILM)
  Tawny Mobley-Davis (Prod secy, ILM)
  Scott Squires (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Mike Bolles (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Udo Pampel (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Greg Beaumonte (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Kris Brown (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Mike MacKenzie (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Lanny Cermak (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Chris Duddy (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Craig Hosoda (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Bill Tondreau (Equipment tech, ILM)
  Available Light, Ltd. (Addl anim)
Dance: Michael Smuin (Dancing can movement adv)
Make Up: Ken Chase (Makeup des and created by)
  Steve La Porte (Key makeup artist)
  John Rizzo (Makeup artist, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Susan Kalinowski (Hairstylist)
  Alan Payne (Hairstylist, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Mushtaque Shaikh (Makeup/hair, 2d unit, Nepal)
Production Misc: Patricia Mock (Casting)
  Mary Selway (Casting consultant, U.K.)
  Melissa Skoff (Casting consultant, U.S.)
  Carol Lefko (Casting asst)
  Marshall Schlom (Scr supv)
  Joyce Upson-Webb (Scr supv, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Studio Animal Service (Animals provided by)
  Paul Calabria (Animal trainer)
  Karin Dew (Animal trainer)
  Roland Raffler (Animal trainer)
  Sled Reynolds (Animal trainer)
  Ira Rosenstein (Loc mgr)
  Yeti Jindal (Loc mgr, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Tim Boxell (Tech adv)
  Craig Pinkard (Transportation coord)
  Dan Marrow (Transportation capt)
  Bob Mayne (Transportation capt)
  Barbara Spitz (Prod office coord)
  Dena Vincent (Prod coord, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Amar Simha (Coord exec, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Joan Lee Smith (Prod secy)
  Ellen Adolph (Prod auditor)
  Dennis Park (Asst prod auditor)
  G.S. Murthy (Cashier, 2d unit, Nepal)
  Stan Brossette (Unit pub)
  Emin Aljuwani (Craft services)
  Vartan Chakirian (Craft services, 2d unit, Los Angeles)
  Phil Trocki (Welfare worker)
  Sue Brooks (Asst to Mr. Ritchie)
  Alexandra Brouwer (Asst to Mr. E. Feldman)
  Robin Robinson (Asst to Mr. Wachs)
  Judy Whelchel (Asst to Mr. D. Feldman)
  George McDowell (Prod asst)
  Leslie Warren (Prod asst)
  Kenneth Frith, Jr. (Prod asst)
  Fetteroff F. Colen (Prod asst)
  Frank Davis (Prod asst)
  Joseph Brown (Prod asst)
  Dan Curry (Weapons consultant)
  Ken McLeod (Monastery tech adv)
Stand In: Chuck Waters (Stunt coord)
  Mickey Gilbert (Stunt coord)
  Elizabeth Barrington (Stunt player)
  Ray Bickel (Stunt player)
  Simone Boisseree (Stunt player)
  Jeff Cadiente (Stunt player)
  Karen Chase (Stunt player)
  Phil Chong (Stunt player)
  Lane Cooper (Stunt player)
  Bob K. Cummings (Stunt player)
  Vince Deadrick, Sr. (Stunt player)
  Larry Duran (Stunt player)
  Emil Farkas (Stunt player)
  Joe Finnegan (Stunt player)
  George Fisher (Stunt player)
  Donna Garrett (Stunt player)
  Troy Gilbert (Stunt player)
  Len Glascow (Stunt player)
  Orwin Harvey (Stunt player)
  Larry Holt (Stunt player)
  Jeff Imada (Stunt player)
  Dave LeBell (Stunt player)
  Gene LeBell (Stunt player)
  Al Leong (Stunt player)
  Matt McColm (Stunt player)
  Pat McGroarty (Stunt player)
  Bill McIntosh (Stunt player)
  Eric M. Miller (Stunt player)
  Gary Morgan (Stunt player)
  John L. Meier (Stunt player)
  Dawn Nallick (Stunt player)
  Alan Oliney (Stunt player)
  E. Noon Orsatti (Stunt player)
  Chris Oswald (Stunt player)
  Lonnie Parkinson (Stunt player)
  Bernie Pock (Stunt player)
  Karen Elayna Price (Stunt player)
  Spiro Razatos (Stunt player)
  Vernon Paul Rietz (Stunt player)
  Walt Robles (Stunt player)
  Tanya Russell (Stunt player)
  Bill M. Ryusaki (Stunt player)
  Kimberly L. Ryusaki (Stunt player)
  Bill Saito (Stunt player)
  John Sherrod (Stunt player)
  Felix Silla (Stunt player)
  Chris Thomas-Palomino (Stunt player)
  Jim Wilkey (Stunt player)
Color Personnel: Ron Lambert (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Wisdom of the Ages," composed and conducted by John Barry; "The Chosen One," by Michel Colombier, performed by Robbie Buchanan; "Puttin' on the Ritz," [instrumental version] by Irving Berlin; "Another Day's Life," by David Wheatley.
Songs: "The Best Man in the World," music by John Barry, lyric by Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson and Sue Ennis, performed by Ann Wilson, Ann Wilson courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.; "Body Talk," by Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Juan Croucier, performed by Ratt, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation.
Composer: John Barry
  Irving Berlin
  Michel Colombier
  Juan Croucier
  Warren DeMartini
  Sue Ennis
  Steven Pearcy
  David Wheatley
  Ann Wilson
  Nancy Wilson
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Paramount Pictures Corporation 7/1/1987 dd/mm/yyyy PA314225

PCA NO: 28105
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
  col: Color by Metrocolor®
  Lenses: Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®

 
Genre: Adventure
  Comedy
Sub-Genre: Action
 
 
Subjects (Major): Good and evil
  Kidnapping
  Tibet
 
Subjects (Minor): Airplanes
  Amulets
  Birds
  Buddhism
  Children
  Crossbows
  Daggers
  Dreams
  Hell
  Hideouts
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Los Angeles (CA)--International Airport
  Martial arts
  Monks
  Motorcycle gangs
  Nepal
  Priests, Buddhist
  Romance
  Social workers
  Tattoos
  Temples
  Warehouses

Note: The end credits include the following acknowledgement, “The Producers Wish to Thank: California Film Office; Tibet West, New York; Lama Excursions, Nepal.” The following statement also appears in the end credits, “Sequences filmed on location in The Kingdom of Nepal.”
       A 15 Jul 1986 HR article mentioned that Paramount Pictures Corp. had originally considered Mel Gibson for the male lead, “Chandler Jarrell,” in The Golden Child. In Oct 1984, Eddie Murphy signed a new contract with Paramount, the studio that had released his previous 1984 hit, Beverly Hills Cop (see entry), as noted in HR articles dated 2 Oct 1985 and 18 Feb 1986. In Jun 1985, after a lengthy decision process, Murphy committed to The Golden Child in preference to twenty other projects being developed exclusively for him, which was announced in a 15 Jun 1985 LAT article. According to Paramount executive David Kirkpatrick, it was “‘the first script Eddie has liked from beginning to end.’” Although the article also stated, “the choice is a surprise.” Dennis Feldman, who was not related to the film’s producer, Edward S. Feldman, completed the screenplay in Jan 1985 and was paid approximately $330,000 upfront. The article pointed out that it was a pricey arrangement, considering that Feldman had just one prior credit, as co-writer of the film, Just One of the Guys (1985, see entry). Paramount did not offer the highest bid for the screenplay, but agreed to let Feldman direct, to which other studios were resistant. However, Feldman’s deal as director fell through, and in addition to writing, he received a credit as the co-producer. George Miller was strongly considered to direct, as reported in a 28 Jul 1985 LAT article and a 11 Aug 1985 LAT article. Sources in the 28 Jul 1985 LAT article revealed that Murphy was an “avowed fan” of Miller’s Mad Max films, but a news item in the Oct 1985 Los Angeles Magazine, claimed Murphy, who had director approval per his Paramount contract, rejected Miller for the job. A 2 Oct 1985 HR article confirmed that Michael Ritchie was signed as director, with a production start date of Feb/Mar 1986, and that the film was scheduled as a major Christmas release.
       Casting news highlighted the search for two unknowns for the part of “Kee Nang,” the female lead, and for the part of “The Golden Child,” a six-year old boy. According to a 12 Dec 1985 LADN article, Robert D. Wachs, one of the producers as well as Murphy’s manager, stated that the global effort was focused in London, Bombay and Hong Kong as well as the United States. A LADN article dated 25 Mar 1986, announced Charlotte Lewis as the final choice for the role of Kee Nang and claimed it would be the “first time Murphy has been romantically involved on screen.” According to the film’s press kit at the AMPAS library, Lewis, selected from over 500 applicants, was a teenage model and budding actress whose only previous screen appearance was Roman Polanski’s Pirates. News items in the 31 Mar 1986 People and the 21 Mar 1986 LAHExam reported that Jasmine Reate, a girl from Carmel, California, would be The Golden Boy. People explained that her head would be shaved and the credit would be written as, “J.L. Reate,” to disguise her sex.
       The 18 Feb 1986 editions of DV and HR announced that The Golden Child began filming on 18 Feb 1986. According to a Jan 1987 interview in AmCin, with Donald Thorin, the director of photography, the majority of the film was shot on the Paramount soundstages. Location filming included street scenes in Los Angeles, as well as the Mammoth Mountain ski area in California for the re-creation of the Himalayas. As noted in the end credits, a second unit filmed in Nepal.
       A feature article in the Jan 1987 AmCin about the film’s special effects detailed how the Industrial Light and Magic crew employed a new live-action motion control technology, the Tondreau system, to create a more life-like movement for the demon sequences. According to the visual effects supervisor, Ken Ralston, Tondreau was still a prototype being developed for Who Framed Roger the Rabbit (1988, see entry), so the process of applying it on The Golden Child was a “‘scary decision’” and an “‘initiation by fire.’” Ralston further explained that, “‘At the end, we were just barely ahead of schedule, and in fact, in some instances we had fallen behind schedule because that’s what happens when you develop these kinds of techniques.’” In addition to the film’s advanced effects, there was a stand-alone scene, illustrating an older style of animation, which was especially “fun” for the ILM crew. In a display of The Golden Boy’s magic, a discarded can of Pepsi morphs into a figure with a top hat and a cane, dancing to the music of Irving Berlin’s “Putting on the Ritz.”
       News reports in the 3 Dec 1986 and the 6 Dec 1986 LAHExam alleged that due to unfinished work on the ILM special effects and to a final tweaking of the soundtrack, the film was still not complete, even with the gala premiere looming on 11 Dec 1986. The 3 Dec 1986 LAHExam article added that the secrecy surrounding the production had sparked rumors of a “Golden Turkey.” The film had little positive buzz in advance of its opening, as outlined in a 13 Dec 1986 LAT feature article. Producer Wachs explained that in the final weeks, John Barry’s score was replaced with one from Michel Colombier, a decision based on results from test audiences. Wachs said, “‘[Barry’s score] was magnificent but the research told us it did not move the picture along.’” Wachs also confirmed that the special effects were not finished until “just days” before the premiere. Furthermore, short scenes were added to highlight Murphy’s comedy. The article proposed that debuting the film in New York might have been a strategy to escape the negativity surrounding the project and Murphy in Hollywood. Producer Feldman stated, “‘It’s the usual. In L.A., they are all waiting for him to fail. But I don’t think he is going to,’” and claimed that The Golden Child tested almost as favorably as Beverly Hills Cop. Feldman was quoted in a 21 Jul 1986 DV article that the film’s budget was approximately $24.5 million, compared to the $30 million figure reported in a 3 Jul 1986 DV article.
       The Golden Child survived lackluster press and negative reviews to become a box office success, as noted in a 7 Jan 1987 HR article. Along with Star Trek IV (see entry) and Crocodile Dundee, it was part of a trio of unexpected hits for Paramount in 1986. The film grossed $52.2 million in just 24 days of release and was immediately ranked in the top ten grossing films of 1986.  

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Jan 1987   pp. 51-54, 56-64.
Daily Variety   18 Feb 1986.   
Daily Variety   30 Apr 1986.   
Daily Variety   3 Jul 1986.   
Daily Variety   21 Jul 1986.   
Hollywood Reporter   2 Oct 1985   p. 1, 16.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Feb 1986.   
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 1986.   
Hollywood Reporter   12 Dec 1986   p. 3, 38.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Dec 1986.   
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jan 1987.   
Los Angeles Daily News   12 Dec 1985.   
Los Angeles Daily News   25 Mar 1986.   
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   21 Mar 1986.   
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   3 Dec 1986.   
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   6 Dec 1986.   
Los Angeles Magazine   Oct 1985.   
Los Angeles Times   15 Jun 1985.   
Los Angeles Times   28 Jul 1985.   
Los Angeles Times   11 Aug 1985.   
Los Angeles Times   12 Dec 1986   p. 1, 10.
Los Angeles Times   13 Dec 1986   Section VI, p. 1, 4.
New York Times   12 Dec 1986   p. 19.
People   31 Mar 1986.   
Variety   17 Dec 1986   p. 20, 24.

Display Movie Summary
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.
 
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.