04th Jul2022

‘The Princess’ Review

by Jim Morazzini

Stars: Joey King, Ed Stoppard, Alex Reid, Dominic Cooper, Veronica Ngo, Olga Kurylenko, Kristofer Kamiyasu, Fergus O’Donnell, Antoni Davidov | Written by Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton | Directed by Le-Van Kiet

The Princess opens with the title character (Joey King; The Conjuring, Welcome to the Blumhouse) waking up groggy to find herself locked in a tower with only vague memories of how she got there. Within minutes she has to deal with a pair of soldiers with ill intent, both of whom she quite violently dispatches with moves that include a lethal kick and a hairpin through the eye.

As that probably told you, The Princess tosses all notions of historical accuracy, or any kind of accuracy really right out the window. Director Le-Van Kiet (The Requin, The Ancestral) takes Ben Lustig (The Thirst) and Jake Thornton’s script and runs with it. After his last two films, he knew he needed to repeat the success of his last hit, the female-fronted action film Furie. And he goes all out to do just that.

Lacking a male heir The King (Ed Stoppard; Ruby Strangelove Young Witch, Blackwood) and Queen (Alex Reid; The Descent, The Facility) arrange a marriage between The Princess (that is how they are referred to in the credits BTW) and Julius (Dominic Cooper; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Preacher) the son of a friend. But when she gets cold feet Julius shows his true nature and has his men seize control of the castle.

Now it’s up to her to fight her way out of the tower and save her family, and her country. Which leads to plenty of anachronistic and irreverent ass kicking. The results are something like what would happen if John Wick had fathered a Disney Princess.

That isn’t the only film The Princess takes inspiration from, at times it echoes Die Hard as our heroine uses the castle’s secret passages like John McClane used air ducts to sneak past enemies. At others, it’s Robin Hood and The Raid as she swordfights her way down staircases against insane numbers of opponents. Eventually, she teams up with Linh (Veronica Ngo; Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, The Old Guard) the woman who taught her to fight and they take on the forces of Julius, not the least of which is his whip-wielding consort Moira (Olga Kurylenko; Black Widow, White Elephant).

The Princess is certainly bloody enough to earn its “R” rating but never overly grim, or serious for that matter. The closest it gets is the expected father/daughter disagreement about the place of a woman. That’s also about as deep as the plotting and characterization go as well. It just sets up the conflict and stands back. The closest anyone gets to having a character arc is Julius getting to prove he’s even worse than we thought.

Instead, the film just lets fight choreographer Kefi Abrikh (City Hunter, Furie) delivers plenty of solid fights and action scenes as her majesty hacks and slashes her way through the opposing army. There’s nothing that’s groundbreaking or memorable, but it is exciting and there’s plenty of it. It also helped that King did most of her own stunt work which meant less cutting and editing to hide a stunt double.

In the negative column, The Princess has some truly awful green screening and CGI in scenes showing the outside of the castle and the countryside around it. The same with the CGI blood splatter. It does manage to pull off a nice decapitation with practical effects, however.

At its core, The Princess is the kind of lighthearted swashbuckler they used to make back in the day updated with some modern-day bloodletting. It isn’t meant to be taken seriously, so don’t, just enjoy it.

**** 4/5

The Princess is currently available on Hulu and Disney+.

Review originally posted on Voices From the Balcony

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