Saturday, October 22, 2011

GPSerious: The Films of Michael Ritchie, Rnd 1: The Golden Child

The more cultured of you out there will have to pardon my ignorance. Only after finally looking up who directed The Golden Child have my eyes been opened to a man named Michael Richie (No, not Guy Ritchie. No, not Michael Richards, either.). As soon as I saw that he directed both The Golden Child and The Bad News Bears, I was instantly compelled to throw every movie of his onto my Blockbuster queue. Yes, Blockbuster. Netflix has zero - count them - zero of the ones I wanted on Instant. Anyways, I have a plan. The plan is to go through the whole Michael Ritchie catalog. I already know The Golden Child and The Bad News Bears by heart, but there are so many more wonders I'm sure to encounter. In short: Fuck yea! Right, so here's the part where I tell you how awesome The Golden Child is, as if you didn't already know.

I'll get the plot of The Golden Child out of the way quickly. Eddie Murphy plays Chandler Jarrell, some dude in L.A. who looks for/hopefully finds missing children. He's soon contacted by this chick who says the golden child has been kidnapped. According to her, the golden child is supposed to save the world, and Jarrell is the only person who can save him (so he can save the world). Of course, he thinks she's either full of shit or on a heavy dose of crazy, but after spending some time with her, Jarrell comes around. That about sums up what the movie is about. He realizes that he's the chosen one, so they embark on the epic quest of epicness to get the golden child back and save the world from all kinds of evilness and shit.

Alright, so the first thing you need to know about this movie is that it's HILARIOUS. Judging only by his work in this and The Bad News Bears, Ritchie really, really knows how to direct comedy. He lets the actors breathe and come to life. The comedic dialogue seems to flow naturally. If I'm wrong about this, then so be it; shit like this is what makes this movie great:

This is the introduction of Chandler Jarrell. I don't think you could ask for anything better.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you have an actor that exudes charisma and laughs as much as Eddie Murphy, it would be criminal to keep him leashed. The Golden Child keeps the story moving at a good clip while allowing Eddie to be Eddie. It's pretty much the perfect storm of awesome. Consider this next scene, which comes shortly after Jarrell's introduction:

If you don't laugh at least a few times, you and I have nothing in common. NOTHING. I might even hate you. 

I don't really have an outline of things I want to talk about with this, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm all over the place. Maybe I'm not, and it's all in my head. Either way, I just thought about a certain scene. Kee Nang (the woman seen scribbling shit in the last clip) has to get Jarrell out of a jam, and in the process, her shirt gets dowsed with water. Brace yourselves, readers, because here's where I get preachy while talking about a movie involving dragon-demons that can't get past customs. When I reviewed Mortal Kombat, I shit on Sonya Blade's character. I thought it was the epitome of two different, yet retarded caricatures of women. On the one hand, you have the strong-willed, in-shape, feminine character who can take care of herself in a fight. In shitty movies, she's always a bitch. Mortal Kombat is just such a movie. On top of that, the end of the movie relegated Sonya to a damsel in distress who could do nothing but look hot while chained up. It stirred my loins, but that's about it. In The Golden Child, Kee Nang is about as far removed from that shit as possible. She's a bad ass, but she doesn't care about flaunting it. She won't let you know that she could kick your ass twelve ways from Sunday; instead, she'll allow your stupid male ego to think it's protecting her. Then, if need be, she'll back-flip onto the scene and skull-fuck someone. Yea, she looks sexy as hell after she gets hit with water, but a) it's not dwelled on, and b) the only reason it happened is because she kicked a man through a fucking wall. In this scene, she has to bail Jarrell out of a bad, bad situation:

 I don't think I could kick someone through a wall.

As an aside, here's the music video of the song that was playing on the T.V. It's "Body Talk" by RATT. They're kind of like a shittier version of Def Leppard.


Switching gears a bit, there's an awesome parallel to another '80s classic, Big Trouble in Little China. In fact, there are no less than three actors in both movies. That should make someone's head explode somewhere.

First up is James Hong, who was Lo Pan in Big Trouble. He's only in a few scenes, but...there he is. Check it out:

He's been waiting a long time for Egg Shen to find him.

Speaking of Egg Shen, he has a much, much more prominent role in The Golden Child. Victor Wong plays Kee Nang's father, the one who burps repeatedly in Eddie Murphy's face after stealing a hundred bucks from him:


The third connection is Peter Kwong. He played one of the three gods in Big Trouble. No, not Raiden. The other one. No, not the one who exploded himself. The other one. Well, here he is, trying to kill Eddie Murphy:

I won't spoil the fight.

It would be absolutely remiss of me to not talk about the villain of the movie, Sardo Numspa. I was just discussing Charles Dance with Markus the other day. He was in Alien 3 and The Last Action Hero (Charles Dance, not Markus, duh). But in The Golden Child, he plays that one kind of villain where you know there's a lot more bubbling under the surface than what he's letting on. Yep...I won't spoil what happens at the end, because I think it's genuinely awesome and worth seeing unspoiled. But he's great throughout the whole movie.

Jarrell does not, in any way, totally piss of Sardo Numspa.

I'm going to leave the rest of The Golden Child for you to discover on your own. If you've already seen it, you no doubt feel the urge to burn some incense at your Eddie Murphy shrine. I'll burn some right along with you. This movie will never be anything less than great.

My next Michael Ritchie movie will be The Bad News Bears. I own it, but for the purposes of letting you guys know why it's great, I'll re-watch it so as to arm myself with all the necessary knowledge. Buttermaker would have it no other way. Well, he probably wouldn't have made it even halfway through this article before he lost interest, but still. It's the thought that counts. I hope you made it through.


  1. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?

    You made it through this entire post without typing the word "Fletch" even once?!? Good god, man, what is wrong with you? Obviously, you have not seen it. I saw the name Michael Ritchie and knew right off the bat that he's the Fletch director (note: one of my all-time favorites...seen hundreds of times). Thankfully, this project of yours will remedy the situation.

    I haven't seen The Golden Child in forever, but my faded memory tells me that I must not have cared all that much about it. However, with your raving, I shall give it another chance.

  2. Fletch sucks.

    Just kidding. I only saw it once, and that was years ago. It's kind of the opposite of you and The Golden Child. I'm stoked to see Fletch again. I said my next one would be The Bad News Bears, but I think I'm going to watch Semi-Tough next.