Movie review: ‘The Princess’ is a strikingly badass version of your typical fantasy movie
With the Princess’ realistic stunts and moves reminiscent of the best wuxia fighters, this empowering film will definitely keep you riveted to the screen.
Before watching The Princess, I was looking forward to a typical “princess in a dysfunctional kingdom” storyline revolving around the princess and her potential romantic interest. I can definitely say that I got what I expected, but also so much more.
A stunning action movie packed with thrilling fight scenes, badass stunts and a lot of killing, The Princess sells female empowerment and does it brilliantly. Aside from the realistically executed action, the costumes, sets, props and smooth editing make this a movie well worth re-watching.
Set in a medieval kingdom, The Princess tells the tale of a young princess (played by Joey King) who refuses her marriage and subsequently has to save her kingdom and family from her tyrannical betrothed Julius and his barbaric guards.
We learn early on in the film that the princess is a force to be reckoned with. Having been trained as a warrior in secret against her father’s wishes since young, she’s equipped with moves to fight off a dozen guards at once. And she’s not exactly averse to killing either.
The film begins with the princess awakening in a chamber at the top of a tower, wearing a beautiful gown on a bed adorned with satin ribbons. It is everything like what you would expect from a classic live-action princess movie, except we soon find that something is wrong as the princess’ wrists are chained together.
The chains do not stop her from defying all expectations, as we are treated to some intense fight scenes when two guards burst into the room. Amid all the screaming and violence, the princess ends up covered in blood. Spoiler alert: it’s not her own.
The film only gets better from there, as the princess ventures out of the chamber into the rest of the castle, taking down every mercenary who crosses her path. We also learn concurrently that Julius plans to marry the princess by force and overthrow the king.
What impressed me about this film was the way we learn the full story through natural transitions, as the princess flashbacks to what happened before she woke up.
I appreciate that the plot is easily comprehensible and does not interfere with our enjoyment of the action scenes. The smooth editing also ensures that we are treated to a thrilling ride, as anticipation remains high even during scenes where no fights are occurring.
I’m also really digging the female empowerment here. All the women and girls in the movie face various forms of ridicule and disdain from men. However, they always wait for the right moments to strike back, adding some truly priceless twists to the story.
It was viciously satisfying to hear the men cackle derisively at the princess and make derogatory remarks, only to have her cut back at them with witty snark before completely defeating them.
It helps that the princess is so irrevocably badass. She winds up in the tightest of predicaments, nearly falling to her death or getting choked by men twice her size. But each time it turns out that she still has an arsenal of moves up her sleeve, ready to dispatch even the trickiest of foes.
As for the fights themselves, every scene was top notch and highly enjoyable. The fights are extremely realistic as Joey herself performed most of the moves without assistance from stunt doubles.
Any cuts made are merely to showcase different angles, so we even get to see entire uncut sequences where the princess takes on multiple attackers at once. Special effects are also used in all the right places to highlight particularly close shaves in slow motion.
As exciting as this movie is, it’s not just about the action. The film as a whole carries a deeply heartwarming undertone. At the heart of the princess’ ferocity and desperation to fight is her strong yearning to protect her family and win the kingdom back.
I also grew attached to the princess’ childhood mentor Linh, the one who trained her as a warrior. The princess and Linh are sincerely protective of each other, and this shines through the film as they fight side by side. The princess also grounds herself in Linh’s teachings and their shared warrior’s values, finding her true calling to fight with all her heart.
Overall, I loved the film and how it balanced strong values of family and empowerment with a good dose of realistic cut-throat action. Though I’m not usually one for action movies, I found myself rewinding the film over and over again to scrutinise how certain moves were executed.
I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who loves fantasy and action movies. However, I must say it’s curious how we never learn the princess’ name. Perhaps this is a strategic move, but if there are plans to reveal it in future, I’ll certainly keep my eyes peeled.
The Princess will be available exclusively on Disney+ from Jul 1.