THE PRINCESS (DISNEY+) (2022)
SYNOPSIS: An action-packed fight to the death set in a fairy tale world, “The Princess” is directed by Le-Van Kiet (“Furie”) and stars Emmy Award® nominee Joey King (“The Act,” “The Kissing Booth”) as a beautiful, strong-willed princess who refuses to wed the cruel sociopath to whom she is betrothed, and is kidnapped and locked in a remote tower of her father’s castle. With her scorned, vindictive suitor intent on taking her father’s throne, the princess must protect her family and save the kingdom.
When you mix Disney’s Mulan with Pixar’s Brave but minus the magic, witch and bears, you get The Princess, the latest female empowerment action period flick starring former child star Joey King (The Conjuring, The Kissing Booth).
Produced by Neal H. Moritz (from the Fast & Furious franchise) and Derek Kolstad (writer of the John Wick series) and King herself, The Princess opens with King’s character being imprisoned on top of the castle after refusing to marry the son of a nobleman, Julius (Dominic Cooper). Originally agreed by the King to become the ruler of the Kingdom after marrying the Princess since the former has no heir, the barbaric Julius turned to using brute force after the Princess left him at the altar.
And now the Princess must use her martial arts skill imparted by Linh (Veronica Ngo) to take down numerous mercenaries and Julius’s whip-wielding henchwoman Moira (Olga Kurylenko) before her younger sister, Violet is forced to marry Julius instead.
Like it or not, The Princess possesses one of the most economical and simplistic screenplays of the year. There’s little we know of the Princess. She is not even given a proper name or title. All we know of her is from a couple of flashbacks which told of her desire to learn martial arts just like Princess Merida from Brave who loves her bow and arrows. But anyway, she learns that real power comes from the heart and that’s probably more than enough to take on goons twice her size.
The same issue applies to Julius, Moira and Linh. Pathetically, Julius don’t even have a decent backstory to back up his psychotic episodes while the leather-clad Olga Kurylenko’s only instruction from the director perhaps is to look mean and have a PG13 smooching, moaning scene with Cooper. Linh seems to be the Kingdom’s live-in martial arts instructor though she never seems to age over the years, maybe it’s magic as well.
But don’t get us wrong, we actually love The Princess. If you are a movie fan not looking for a movie heavy with exposition, remarkable storytelling and original tropes but plain highly entertaining fight scenes, you are in for a treat. The fights are often brutal and creative. Nothing like some dedicated stuntmen sustaining some hard falls as we see the Princess sparring against numerous goons and dodging them in secret corridors and alleys. There’s an incredible rush of adrenalin and occasional cartoonish violence on display and King is evidently prepare for the excruciating stuntwork.
Despite the medieval adventure suffering from bad CGI and unconvincing TV-like sets, The Princess delivers a highly-entertaining experience which cleverly flips the middle finger both at the dated fairytale genre and male toxic masculinity.
Review by Linus Tee