And multiple dongs were hung. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
It's hard to re-imagine what the landscape in Hollywood was like in 1986, but Eddie Murphy was on top of the world. That is, in part, what makes The Golden Child such a weird film.
The Golden Child was originally intended to be an adventure drama with elements of Chinese mysticism instrumental in the film's plot. John Carpenter had originally signed on to direct but dropped out and went on the film Big Trouble in Little China, rushing it through post-production to get it through to the theaters before the project he had just left. Mel Gibson was originally signed on to star in the film but ended up being unavailable. Murphy was cast and the script was reworked to be a comedy, not unlike Beverly Hills Cop had been (and coincidentally, not unlike Big Trouble in Little China which had originally been set in the wild west of the 1880s).
When you watch The Golden Child, its complete bizarreness (in retrospect, of course) is obvious. You are watching Eddie Murphy thrown into a film in which he is confronted by his eventual nemesis, Sardo Numspa (played by Charles Dance, known by most as Tywin Lannister) in a dream that happens in front of a live studio audience, travels to Tibet where he is swindled by a dirty street vendor who is later revealed to be a nose-picking Tibetan monk who tasks him on running a gauntlet to retrieve an otherworldly dagger. Sardo Numspa's gang is a hodge-podge band of weirdos that undercut the serious threat they're supposed to represent, with Randall "Tex" Cobb playing what can most easily be classified as developmentally disabled street tough.
And then there's the fact that Murphy's love interest is the stunning and admittedly mature looking then-18-year-old Charlotte Lewis. She is undoubtedly attractive and perhaps her exotic background--Irish-English mother and Chilean-Iraqi father--deceives us into thinking she's older, but it's still fairly creepy.
Oh, and the titular Golden Child, who is prophesied to save the world, makes a Pepsi can do a dance to "Puttin' on the Ritz" to please the Cobb in what might be the oddest bit of product placement ever.
Perhaps the craziest aspect of all of this is that The Golden Child was the eighth-highest grossing film of 1986 (domestically), throttling its thematically similar competition Big Trouble in Little China and succinctly summarizing the decade of the 1980s quite nicely.
The Royals sort of mounted a comeback. Butler hung dong. Guthrie had dongs hung off of him. It was a game we've all seen a thousand times before.