In Tibet a magical child is stolen from a temple by a group of kidnappers lead by Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance). In Hollywood California Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) is searching for Cheryll Mosley, a missing 16 year old girl. Chandler is a guest on a public access show that Kee Lang (Charlotte Lewis) is watching. The host is difficult and disinterested in talking about the lost girl. However, Chandler eventually get his number and the information about Cheryll out to the public. Kee is seen taking down his number.
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While playing basketball with some children Kee appears and tells Chandler about the kidnapping of the Golden Child in Tibet. Chandler says Tibet is out of his jurisdiction. Kee shows him an ancient scroll and tells him the importance of the child. The Golden Child is the only one that can save the world. An oracle predicted that the Golden Child would be taken to the city of angels and will be saved by a man who is no angel. Jarrell brushes it off as craziness and leaves the woman.
Jarrell is at the scene where Cheryl's body was dumped. There is a tattoo of a yellow dragon on her thigh. In the house near her body there are Tibetan markings all over the walls along with blood splatters. Jarrell also finds oatmeal with blood in it and snaps a photo. Looking out the window Jarrell notices Kee watching the house.
He goes to a tattoo studio but knows he is being followed. When he goes to confront Kee she is gone. He calls out to her and she comes out of hiding.
At a cafe Kee and Chandler talk. Kee tells him he is already working her case. She tells him the markings on the walls were to contain the Golden Child. Cheryl was killed by the same people that kidnapped the Golden Child. He tells her about the blood and she says she will ask someone about it.
At Dr. Hongs shop the shopkeeper (James Hong) is pleased to meet Chandler. Down in the cellar Chandler meets a woman, Kala (Shakti Chen), behind a screen. Jarrell asks about the Golden Child. The Golden Child is the bringer of compassion. The child is meant to save the world from itself. The kidnappers are trying to pollute the child with blood so he will be become vulnerable. Once the child is vulnerable Numspa would be able to kill the him. The criminals would rather the world be evil than compassionate and good. Chandler offends the woman behind the screen by hitting on her. The woman is surprised that Chandler is indeed the chosen one.
Out on the street it is revealed that Kala is a librarian flown in from Tibet. She is over 300 years old. She is so old because one of her ancestors was raped by a dragon. Chandler does not believe it.
In the evening Kee takes Chandler to his house. He invites her in a couple times but she refuses. Chandler is clearly attracted to Kee.
In a guarded warehouse the Golden Child is surrounded by blood and chanting men. He is sitting in the center of a circle in a cage. His guard, Til (Randall “Tex” Cobb), who is not a bright man becomes easily distracted by a Pepsi can. The Golden Child made the can dance with magic which entertained Til.
Sardo sees this and steps on the toy. Sardo orders the guard to get all of the distractions out of the room. Numspa tells the child that the child will eat. The man leaves the room and the child knocks over the bowl of porridge. The child eats a piece of a plant he had in his sleeve instead. When the chanting men started falling asleep and Til was away the child began meditating.
Meanwhile Jarrell falls asleep at his house. The Golden Child visits Chandler in a dream. The child brought a bird with him. In the morning Chandler gets a mysterious call telling him where he will find the people who took Cheryl Mosely. When Chandler looks out the window he see the bird from his dream. Jarrell and Kee go to the address in the morning. Jarrell see's the bird again. He tells the woman to stay in the car but if there is a problem she needs to drive to safety. Kee waits for Chandler to step away before she follows him. The house is full of yellow dragon members. Jarrell does not get far before he is tied up. When Kee goes into the house she see's a yellow dragon the wall. By herself Kee takes down a few of the bikers and saves Chandler. They fight the rest of the bikers. Chandler beats some information out of one of the gang after the fight is over. The man tells Chandler that they sold Cheryl to Tommy Tong (Peter Kwong) and tells him where to find Tommy. It is also revealed that Tommy needed her blood.
At Tommy Tong's restaurant Chandler asks where Tong is. However, the patrons aren't cooperative and a fight breaks out. Kee swoops in and saves Chandler again. They chase Tong into an alley but he cleverly gives them the slip. When Tong comes out of hiding he notices a mouse. The mouse turns into Sardo. Sardo swiftly murders Tommy. Kee comes back down the alley to see Chandler standing over Tong's body. She doesn't believe that Chandler did not kill Tong as he says. She reveals that they may be up against demons. Back at the warehouse Sardo tells the Golden Child that the chosen one will never find him.
Sardo goes to his evil overlord. He is asked why the child is still alive and it is because the child will not eat the blood which would pollute his body. He is told to move the child and find the Ajanti dagger. The dagger can kill the boy regardless of whether his body is vulnerable or not. With the dagger he will need no other evil to contain and kill the boy. Sardo is told not to underestimate the power of good.
Meanwhile Chandler goes home and falls asleep. He has a strange lucid dream where he meets the Sardo and his cohorts. Sardo offers Jarrell the child for the Ajanti dagger. When Chandler wakes up from the dream he still has the wound in the shape of the dagger on his forearm.
Chandler and Kee go back to the librarian who tells him what he needs to know. The cross-dagger of Ajanti was brought into this world to kill the second golden child. Sardo wants to use the blade to kill the current savior. It is revealed that Chandler can only use the dagger to save the child. It is required that Chandler go to Tibet to get the dagger. He is the only one who can retrieve it.
That night Kee asks to be let into Chandlers house. The pair have sex and she convinces him to go to Tibet the next morning.
Meanwhile the Golden Child is being moved from the warehouse. He is seen eating another leaf but he is running out quickly.
In Tibet the bird from Chandler's dream is following him as he wanders around. Kee is off arranging for their trip into the mountains. Chandler follows the bird to a street vendor, Monty Hall (Victor Wong) with no legs.. While buying a necklace Chandler is cheated by the vendor. Hall refuses to give him back the money and antagonizes him in English. It turns out the vendor wasn't really legless and he distracts Chandler before he disappears.
On the way to Katmandu Chandler is still upset. Kee seems to be a little upset about something too. The trek to the temple is arduous. When they get to their destination the person that they were going to see is the guy that stole Chandlers money.
Kee asks for the knife but Hall wants Chandler to ask instead. Only a man whose heart is pure can wield the knife says Hall. If Chandler can pass the test, carrying a glass of water down a corridor, then he can have the knife. In the corridor Chandler finds that the test is harder than he thought it was going to be. He is reminded to stay on the path. It is revealed that none have survived the test. He figures out the riddle and gets the knife.
Outside on the porch Chandler asks the monk how he can get Kee to marry him. The monk tells him he must trust some he has no reason to trust. He must make a promise to someone he just met. He also must love someone who loves him. He must tell no one.
Kee talks to the monk, who she calls Gunpa. She has a lot of reasons not to like Chandler and she says she has ruined herself by having sex with him. Gunpa tells her she has to help him save the child and to follow her heart. When she wants to marry Chandler Gunpa says she has his blessing. It is revealed that Kee is Gunpa's daughter.
At the airport Chandler is concerned that the personnel wont let him on the plane with a dagger under his shirt.. He creates a distraction and gets the knife through the metal detector. He also creates a hilarious scene where he is pretending to be an authoritative official from the U.S. Kee and Chandler are able to get on the plane.
Back in America Sardo meets them at the airport. Sardo came to get the knife and he also brought the cops. He told the police a bogus story about the blade being stolen from him. Instead of giving Sardo the the knife Chandler creates a scene. He tells Sardo to give him the boy and then he can have the knife. Sardo has no choice but to agree. Dr. Hong has arranged for Chandler and Kee to stay at a friends' house.
After looking at the knife Chandler settles in on the couch. Kee asks Chandler if he is coming to bed but he is not.
The guards outside are being picked off one by one by an unseen assailant. Kee and Chandler hear the commotion and Chandlers says they should leave which they do. Sardo's gang finds the pair outside. Kee is shot and she tells Chandler that she loves him before she dies in his arms. At this point in the movie it gets confusing because the case that was handcuffed to Chandlers wrist was not recovered by the villains. However something is given to Sardo by one of his minions.
Chandler takes Kee's body back to Dr. Hong's shop. He is told by the librarian that the child can bring Kee back to life. Angrily Chandler knocks the screen over. He is surprised to find a half snake half woman creature behind the screen. Dr. Hong tells him he must find the child before midnight. Midnight is the only time Sardo can kill the boy.
On his way to find the child the bird from is dream appears. He follows the bird to a stately house on a hill and breaks in. Til, who by this point had been touched by the child, had turned from good to evil. Chandler is led to the child by Til who meets him in a hallway. Chandler tells the boy everything will be alright before going off to find Sardo. When Jarrell finds Sardo, Sardo turns into an evil winged creature. The chosen one and the Golden Child take a car and run. They go to Dr. Hong's shop but just before the child is able to bring Kee back to life Sardo shows up. After a fight Chandler kills Sardo with the knife and the child is able to bring Kee back to life.
The last scene is of the child, the chosen one, and Kee walking to a playground/park.
Best part of story, including ending:
I dislike how the movie ends. I kind of expected for Chandler to swoop in at the last moment, at the stroke of midnight to find the golden child, kill Sardo, and revive Kee. I also expected Sardo to be on step in the direction of vanquishing evil. I did not expect him to be the evil that was needing to be vanquish to save the world.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene happens at the airport when Sardo and Chandler are talking. Chandler creates a scene where pretends to be Numspa's brother. He begs the police to take him to jail while Sardo watches. Sardo's plan fails and Chandler leaves with the knife.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike that Chandler needs Kee to save him so often.