I love period pieces. The costumes, the set pieces, and of course the look at gender dynamics usually being pushed by the film’s heroine. The Princess brings all of this in spades but what it does differently is pack nearly every single moment full of quick-paced action. Directed by Le-Van Kiet, written by Ben Lustig & Jake Thornton, and starring Joey King, Dominic Cooper, Olga Kurylenko, and Veronica Ngo, The Princess is your typical period film with a twist.
When a beautiful, strong-willed princess refuses to wed the cruel sociopath to whom she is betrothed, she 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.
The Princess uses action sets to their most, particularly by choosing a tower descension instead of an ascension that allows King to show her action prowess on a grand scale. Additionally, as the film goes on, her dress becomes bloodied and worn, she carries injures that impede her ability to fight, and every scene adapts the progressively injured princess. While it may seem small, this alone helps the audience see King in the same way we see male action stars, as unrelenting machines of violence with a mission. This is juxtaposed by King’s short stature, long hair, and extremely fresh face. And all of this works.
King is phenomenal as our Princess, not because of her acting while delivering dialogue, but because of her ability to embody an action star. Without robust lines, the action in The Princess tells a story through fight choreography akin to how films like John Wick do. The action here says little, but their impact on altercations and the circumstances around them help propel the narrative forward. And that, that’s my favorite kind of action.
I mean to sum it up, take John Wick and make him a princess trying to escape a marriage to a power-hungry nobleman, and you get a stoic and creative fighter who is well royalty. While Kiet’s past work Furie doesn’t have a weak fight sequence in the bunch, the better action moments of the film ultimately make some of the more highly-edited ones stick out like a sore thumb. That said, these are few and far between and outweighed by King’s performance.
Additionally, The Princess does have some small issues. Its dialogue feels forced at times and the inclusion of an Asian martial arts master as the reason why our lead knows how to fight feels a bit shoehorned in. However, those small pieces don’t overshadow the joy that the fight sequences bring or the power of seeing a princess be anything but a damsel. Instead, we see her take power and stand through her physical prowess, not as someone to birth an heir but instead as someone fit to rule.
The Princess is action-packed and filled with set pieces that make it an absolute blast. In Kiet’s deft hands, we get the chance to see a fairytale-esque princess battle it out for more than a prince. While this film pales in comparison to Kiet’s Furie, it’s a strong entry into his filmography and worthy of every minute.
The Princess is streaming exclusively on Hulu now.
The Princess is action-packed and filled with set pieces that make it an absolute blast. In Kiet’s deft hands, we get the chance to see a fairytale-esque princess battle it out for more than a prince. While this film pales in comparison to Kiet’s Furie (currently available on Netflix), it’s a strong entry into his filmography and worthy of every minute.