Hulu has been absolutely slaying the original film game as of late, with Fresh becoming one of my favorite films of the year, along with a handful of excellent rom-coms including Fire Island and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. Now, in a collaboration with 20th Century Studios, Hulu throws their hat into the fantasy action/thriller ring with Vietnamese filmmaker Le-Van Kiet’s The Princess. Headlined by a fiery Joey King (The Kissing Booth, The In Between), the film feels akin to Kill Bill by way of Kingsman, set during an ancient Game of Thrones-ian time period. While one can easily predict nearly every story beat, the vicious R-rating and King’s relentless, committed performance make The Princess a gem well worth saving.
The Princess (King) wakes up disoriented, chained, and up high in a remote tower at her father’s castle. Initially, it seems there will be absolutely no chance of escape. The tower is up insanely high, and two men promptly show up to check on her to make sure everything is going according to plan. Faster than one can say “John McClane,” The Princess abruptly breaks a thumb to break free of her confines and dispatches the men. She brutally kills them both, sending one tumbling out the window of the tower before the title treatment flashes onto the screen. Of course, this is just a taste of the violence that will follows, which includes cracked bones, swords through heads, and one very memorable beheading.
As The Princess begins battling her way through various floors of the tower, utilizing stealth and combat skills she learned from warrior Linh (Veronica Ngo, The Old Guard, Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi), she discovers that power-hungry Julius (Dominic Cooper, Preacher, Mamma Mia!) has taken over her family’s kingdom. Julius holds members of her family captive, including the King and Queen and their other much younger daughter. Julius longs to be the leader of the kingdom—due to a not-so-complicated past with The Princess that unfolds over use of sparing flashbacks, Julius was denied her hand in marriage, and will do whatever it takes to finally wed. Seemingly, this extends to using his right-hand woman, Moira (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace, Seven Psychopaths), and her razor-whip to kill countless men, women, and children in the lust to be a ruler.
Watching The Princess demolish nearly everything in her path remains wildly entertaining for the duration of the runtime. Even if we know what is coming, the sharp script from Ben Lustig and Jake Thorton makes sure we have a hell of a fun time on the journey to the final destination. The Princess’s dress endures further rips and tears during her trek, adding to the dark-humor hilariousness of her characterization. Well before she chugs down a full hearty cup of mead, The Princess is clearly a force to be reckoned with. Even during aforementioned flashbacks, one can feel the power of feminine strength, practically channeling Jasmine in the Aladdin live-action remake.
The Princess does not reinvent the wheel, but it presents a sassy heroine easy to fall for. Audiences with a taste for violent action thrillers will find a lot to love, and fans of Joey King may be shocked to witness her channeling such intense badass energy. I would suggest not going in expecting a serious movie—rather, The Princess is R-rated fantasy feel-good fun.
The Princess breaks free of its chains when it debuts exclusively to Hulu on Friday, July 1st.