July 1st, 2022
MOVIE: THE PRINCESS
STARRING: JOEY KING, DOMINIC COOPER, OLGA KURYLENKO, VERONICA NGO
DIRECTED BY: LE-VAN KIET
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
A problem with movies today continues to be that the ideas have the right sentiment- more representation, more women behind the camera, and vehicles that give a star like Joey King new adventures, but they all start to blend together. From Gunpowder Milkshake, Atomic Blonde, The Protege, Jolt, and The 355, they all have similar goals and plot points. The Princess is Atomic Blonde in medieval times, with Joey King locked in a tower, and using her expert sword fighting skills to get out of it. The direction from Le-Van Kiet has a straight-forward generic approach and Joey King is worthy of the crown but becomes lost in the shuffle of movies like it that came before. The Princess is rich in action and bankrupt of everything else.
That action starts instantly, with The Princess (King) waking up to find herself in chains, a bit foggy to remember how she got herself into this predicament. She uses quick reflexes to dispose of a pair of guards that try to have their way. It’s a violent jolt of quick kicking, sliding, and using anything she can get her hands on to use. In between the fighting are pauses for her memory to come back, in flashbacks we see that she was to be married to Julius (Dominic Cooper), only she got cold feet, running from the altar, and soon after this inspires Julius to turn on the King (Ed Stoppard), hoping to force himself into being the one who sits on the throne. That is if he can keep the Princess locked away but this is a woman scorned and she is not waiting to be a damsel in distress.
Since the plot is relatively thin there’s not a lot to point out, the screenplay written by Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton, where the lifting is done by all the fight sequences. One particularly memorable moment is when King and a plethora of goons fight it out on a spiraling staircase. It includes bones broken, a painful jump from one side of the stairs to the other, slicing, and swashbuckling that would make Errol Flynn proud. Joey King has time and again proved that she’s more than meets the eye, where her versatility is on display, hopefully indicating that she has left The Kissing Booth movies behind her. But still The Princess leaves her hanging, as she’s giving a major effort, while everything around her is bland.
It’s the other half of stuff that The Princess fails to succeed at, as the villainy of Dominic Cooper is a carbon copy of Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham, and his character moments are painfully repetitive. He lines up his army, tells them they need to go into the castle to stop the menacing Princess, only for that group to be foiled, and then we do it all over again. Director Le-Van Kiet seems unable to create his own style or a signature mark for us to notice his work from others. A bright point is Olga Kurylenko as Julius’ right-hand, whip-wielding henchwoman, a worthy adversary for The Princess, and a revival for the Bond-Girls presence. The other saving grace of The Princess is the subplot about her training and her battle partner Linh (Veronica Ngo) and I was wishing for a buddy adventure instead of what we got.
The positives of The Princess don’t outweigh the negatives and there’s still not enough there to recommend. I am always on board with cool action movies, a revival of knights and sword fighting is a genre I long for, and this is a step. If you love it more than I did my guess is because the action goes a long way. Joey King becoming an action star is not a bad thing. She carries all the weight, kicking ass, climbing on top of muscular men, punching heads, smashing toes, and quick with a sword. The Princess had something there but it settles for more of what we’ve seen before. This one can stay locked in the tower.
THE PRINCESS OPENS THIS FRIDAY JULY 1ST, 2022 ONLY ON HULU
Written by: Leo Brady