The Princess (2022)

Posted in Reviews by - November 27, 2022
The Princess (2022)

This stretches a thin premise – The Raid meets Rapunzel – almost to the point of tedium, saved only by the skills of its principle cast and abundance of fight action. Teen star Joey King matures into a one woman killing machine in a post-modern twist on the archetypal ‘princess in the tower’ story (there’s a delicious irony to the film being made available on Disney’s streaming platform). She escapes an arranged marriage to a mad medieval usurper (Dominic Cooper) and is forced to fight her way out of a castle in a bid for freedom, smashing through countless burly guards with swords, axes, whips, and other sharp and pointy things. Fight choreographer Samuel Kefi Abrikh (who also provided the action for Le-Van Kiet’s superb 2019 Vietnamese fight flick, Furie), puts King through her paces, and what the character lacks in depth she makes up for in pure ass-kicking vitriol. Furie‘s Veronica Ngo is another revelation, playing the princess’ long-serving martial arts teacher, who gets to team up with the star in the film’s second half. Ngo is one of modern action cinema’s most underrated stars, and well-deserving of her own Hollywood vehicle. Praise also forĀ Olga Kurylenko, another stalwart of wham-bam action films who is effortlessly watchable, here playing a pantomime femme fatale with a whip. Despite its progressive, violent take on the patriarchal fairytale narrative, the film is surprisingly dark and serious in tone – this isn’t Shrek territory – and there’s even a slightly mad attempt to root Cooper’s overthrowing of monarchistic rule as a metaphor for modern political discourse. There’s actually only really one gag in the whole movie – involving a fat guard having to walk up some stairs. Its distinct lack of levity or consequence makes the film feel quite disposable, but if you’re in the market for 90 minutes of solid action, nicely handled and neatly performed, there are worst ways to spend the time.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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