Movie

The Princess: Movie Review

Joey King as The Princess - female empowerment and awesome choreographies
6
(6/10)

Movie Review

The Princess: Introduction

The Princess is a 2022 action meets fairytale American movie. It streams on Hulu and Disney+. Le-Van Kiet directs the period action. The movie stars Joey King as The princess. Dominic Cooper (Julius) and Olga Kurylenko (Moira) play the main antagonists. Ngô Thanh Vân (aka Veronica Ngo) plays Linh, the princess’ teacher. Her uncle Khai (Kristofer Kamiyasu) plays Linh’s uncle who later joins her to confirm the trainee’s fighting spirit. Ed Stoppard, Alex Reid and Katelyn Rose Downey also star. They respectively play the King, the Queen and the Princess’s sister.

The Princess: False starts

Well! This is definitely not the film to watch if you expect the live version of a traditional princess movie. There is no Cinderella or Snow White here. There is no traditional fairy tale maiden full of good and gentle manners and “lady-like” behaviour. I started watching this during a late evening that I wanted quiet. From the outset, the movie revealed that it was not the right choice for my mood. I managed to watch a few more minutes before deciding to postpone my seance.

Another try

The second time was much the same. It started with me somehow convinced that I had an exaggerated perspective of my memory of the film. Wether it was violent and fast-paced or not, surely there would be moments were even the action would need to take a break! Well, no. I was right the first time. The film took me yet again into its thrill. Even in the moments in between action, the fear to be caught, the fear that this unbathed, no-doubt stinky antagonist, presents by the dozens could just rise from any corner of a really big castle, kept both the main actress and the viewer I was, on our toes. I needed to postpone again. Something tells me I should have watched the great trailer first!

3rd time lucky

Well, it wasn’t luck per se. Knowing what you are up against is essential. I just had to be in the mood for an action movie. I had to stop assuming that a movie called The Princess would be any less an action movie than any other, just because the principal protagonist is a princess, the clothes and look fit as do the castle and the bed, even as it is, in the highest tower. Mind challenged and unconscious bias eliminated. I was definitely over the subversion of expectations and could fit the movie where it belonged: in one of those periods of my time when I am in the mood for action, thrill and suspense.

The Princess: A little exchange that sum up the movie’s vibe

Joey King as The Princess - female empowerment and awesome choreographies

No pursuits or fights in the movie better demonstrate the strength and inner power of the princess and the vibe of this whole action-packed movie than one film passage. This clip sees an exchange between the main (female) protagonist and the main (male) antagonist. It comes in one hour and 20 minutes into the movie. The few seconds of verbal and physical exchange between the princess and her main assaillant, for me, best capture and sum up the movie’s vibe.

The antagonist says:

“Your parents wept the day you were born. I was there. They were so upset that you weren’t a man”.

To which the princess retorts in a favourite vindicative quote:

“Well, I heard yours wept for the same reason”.

Analysis of the exchange

Obviously, the first thing you see is when she says he is not a man. On its ow, that is enough of a burn. But, first, I love that he needed 3 sentences and she only needed 1. Then, I do like the script’s subtlety between, “I was there” and “I heard”. It is to my ears everything that shows who has the power there. For, to be believed, the usurpator must state that he was there. But the princess’s statement demonstrate that it could not matter less where the information came from or whether the gossiper was reliable: they both know the piece of information itself is a fact. Moreover, the princess uttera these words as she moves towards him without fear, with her eyes wide open. Now, that is a bigger burn and a show of confidence and true female power.

The Princess: Female empowerment?

And yet, Hollywood’s cliché bad habit of denying the villain the many opportunities they have to slay the protagonist just goes to undermine it all. The toying with preys, the monologuing, the slow walk to the wounded and vulnerable enemy, all these are instruments of the villain’s own defeat, more so than any so weakened female empowerment. I would even add the sudden self-consciousness the villain experiences when he sees a public to his slaughter and feels the need to monologue further in self-justification. He is defeated by the script and not the princess.

Female power

That being said, there was female power throughout. The whole action shows that the three main fighting females (The princess, Linh and Moira) and the little fighter in the making (The princess’s sister) are the real powerful ones in there. In spite of being called names, being treated subserviently, they hold the true power and claim it outrightly. I do love the diversity of the population and the joke of the soldier seeking the princess and finally finding her at the end. Joey King is convincing and the red hair is great (did the movie The Princess have more money for the hair than Aquaman did?!)

Conclusion

This action-packed, female-empowered, diverse movie benefits from a great main protagonist and some great fight choreographies and execution. From the outset, it keeps you in a thrill that barely gives you time to take your breath, in spite of sparse elements of comedy. It shows great direction. However, it fails to escape the Hollywood clichés (the worst of which was villain by the numbers) which end up impeding the realisation of its full potential. The film undermining the female empowerment that it so “painstakingly” and efficiently built was the most frustrating. This left a bad feeling at the end for a film that was quite good in general, leaving it with a 6 rating that could have so easily been a 7 or 7.5.