‘The Princess’ Review: Joey King Goes Action Start, But The Efforts Fall Short

The Princess

The tale of the damsel in distress is as old as time itself. The trope has been used endlessly both in movies, film, and television. There is really nothing else more tiresome. And yet, movies keep using it one way or another. Lately, the trope has been gender bend so that male figures can also receive the treatment, totally missing the point of why such a trope is annoying in the first place. It doesn’t matter, the trope will always exist, and it will be used forever.

Unlike tropes, structures have always been in place to help tell a story. Original narrative structures come very far and between. They are hard to come by, there is no other way around it, and so writers often used structures that have already been proven successful and fit their stories into those structures. It makes writing so much easier. However, with familiarity comes repetition, which can also end up resulting in tedium. Something you definitely don’t want your audiences to feel if you are making a movie.

The Princess, the new Hulu movie of the week, feels just like if those two problems end up having a baby. The film is directed by Le Van Kiet, and stars Joey King, Dominic Cooper, and Olga Kurylenko. The film tells the story of a princess, who after rejecting his fiancée, sees the man attacking her family’s castle looking for revenge. The Princess will save herself from the villains and try to recapture the castle from their grasp.

The Princess

The Princess tries more than anything to be a subversion of the trope previously mentioned. The film clearly has a feminist agenda, the one that pushes strong female characters in place of well-written characters. The result is a movie that feels very earnest in what it is trying to accomplish. But it doesn’t know how to do it without feeling too on the nose, or how to do it while maintaining a standard of quality. A standard that now needs to be reached if you want your movie to be taken seriously.

You see, The Princess is an action movie set inside a medieval setting. The best way to describe it would be Die Hard with medieval skin. Exchange the Nakatomi Plaza with a castle, the president of the company with a king, and John McClane with The Princess, and there you have it. The film wastes no time in establishing characters, motivations, or anything like that. It goes straight into action mode and the action is quite lackluster.

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Die Hard was a good movie, not because John McClane was an invisible warrior that could take countless enemies by himself. No. Die Hard was good because the movie took its time to present the characters, and their motivations, and then put those characters into a tense situation. The Princess tries to evoke this feeling, but completely misses what made Die Hard a classic. Instead, what we get is a movie that is a simple rip-off that cannot stand out in any way.

The action genre has come very far in the last decade. Films like The Raid, and the John Wick series have raised the bar of the genre to higher levels, and any movie that doesn’t really step up to match those new standards ends up feeling old and obsolete. The Princess cannot, in any way, put itself besides other great films in the genre, because the way it does the action is purposeless and annoying at the same time.

The Princess

The movie starts with a fight and continues for ninety minutes beings just that, a series of fights one after the other. These fights offer no tension, no risk, nor manage to be visually interesting at least. Without none of those elements, the fights feel more like fluff. If you step back, you can definitely see that nothing of value is really happening in this movie. The story is none existent, and the characters are completely empty.

It is all done in the favor of a message. The Princess can save herself. However, that message is meaningless because I don’t care about the princess at all. I don’t know who the princess is, I don’t know if I feel sympathy for her, I know nothing about her. So why would I care what happens to her? I know this is a fictional character, so there needs to be more than its mere existence for me to care about her.

The production values are also quite modest, to not say cheap. The movie reuses the same two o three hallways over and over again, as there was absolutely not enough money to build more or dress them in a different fashion. Joey King is unbelievable as an action star. The actress doesn’t have the presence or the physique of an action star, so when she manages to defeat enemies that are three times her size with ease, it feels like the movie just gave up before starting.

There are better, and more interesting, action films out there. Films are really trying to push the envelope and create something different in the genre. The Princess definitely is not one of those films.

SCORE: 3/10