The Golden Child earned itself a sympathetic following, but that's largely because audiences, so receptive to Eddie Murphy after Beverly Hills Cop, agreed to look past its gaping flaws for another opportunity to see the young motormouth in action. Murphy himself does not disappoint, complaining about the bizarre scenarios thrust upon him with an indignant frustration that's above the fray. Cleverly, Murphy aligns himself with the audience, shaking his head alongside them at this uneven, genre-straddling action comedy adventure that dabbles in mystical special effects. If it sounds like there's too much going on in The Golden Child, just try watching it. Murphy is the only constant as the film jumps locations and switches tones, by the end producing so many misplaced effects that it resembles some of the most notorious big-budget duds before (Howard the Duck) and after (Hudson Hawk) its release. Veteran comedy director Michael Ritchie, fresh from the hit Fletch, seems in over his head, unable to reign in this unwieldy production. It's Murphy who saves things enough for the film to serve as a step forward in his charmed career. He wrings quotable lines from the scattershot screenplay and leaves a lasting impression of reluctant heroism, most notably when he must jump through an impossible obstacle course without spilling a single drop of water. Murphy just winks at the absurdity of it all, sharing enough fun with the audience to overcome their most serious doubts.