The Princess

The Princess
Original title:The Princess
Director:Le-Van Kiet
Running time:94 minutes
Release date:01 july 2022
When a beautiful, strong-willed princess refuses to marry the cruel sociopath to whom she is unwillingly betrothed, her suitor locks her up in an isolated tower of the castle. Faced with this vindictive and despised man who never stops trying to usurp her father's throne, she will have to find radical solutions to not only protect her family and herself, but also save all the inhabitants of the castle...

Mulder's Review

While the movie industry is going through a lasting crisis linked to the Covid 19 global pandemic that keeps on going, the spectators currently tend to prefer to reserve their time for blockbusters in the cinema but also to relax in front of Streaming platforms. Of course Netflix continues to lose subscribers and doesn't seem to be concerned about the online press highlighting their programs and we can clearly see the result in terms of subscribers. Not that their programs don't appeal as much anymore (they are still excellent in terms of exclusive content as the cult series Stranger Things shows so well), but a real war is going on among the streaming platforms and we can only congratulate Prime Video for continuing to see its subscribers multiplying and especially Disney+ is currently imposing itself in the world as the must-have streaming platform for Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and Pïxar universe fans. In this context, it has become more and more frequent to discover new films like this excellent surprise that is The Princess.

An unlikely but successful cross between Princess Bride (a fairy tale in the Middle Ages) and John Wick, between heroic fantasy and violent action film in the vein of Hong Kong films, The Princess surprises and delivers us a violent action film but with points of humor that constantly work. The story begins as a sweet tale in which once upon a time there was a castle in which a young and beautiful princess (Joey King) was to be married (against her will) but refused to give her hand to Julius (Dominic Cooper). As a punishment she was locked up in the tower of her father's castle but decided not to let herself be punished and to save the inhabitants of her father's castle taken hostage by Julius and his army and his henchwoman Moira (Olga Kurylenko). 

Despite a first scene that would make you think of a new heroix fantasy movie, the action starts with an excellent fight scene and throughout the film there are non-stop and perfectly choreographed action scenes. The princess is not as innocent as she seems, and has been trained in martial arts and sword fighting by her friend and fighting coach Linh (Veronica Ngo). Certainly The Princess will not remain as a model of the genre but it does very well what we ask of it, that is to say to propose effective action scenes, a simplistic plot and the presence of a good cast with notably Joey King in the main role but also Dominic Cooper (Preacher) and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace (2008), Oblivion (2013), Black Widow (2021)) and Veronica Ngo (Bright (2017), Furie (2019))

The director Le-Van Kiet (Furie (2019), The Shark (2022)) after several horror films seems to want to look for other cinematographic experiences and shows with The Princess that he is perfectly comfortable with an action film and it is easy to understand that after his film Furie the American studios wanted to offer him a subject capable of holding his attention and showing once again that he excels in this genre.  It is therefore not a coincidence to find Derek Kolstad (producer of the John Wick saga) and Neal Moritz (producer of the Fast and Furious saga) at the production. Certainly The Princess was produced with a real desire to offer an effective and neat action film in a framework rather dedicated to an adventure film and where the action often goes behind a desire to propose beautiful landscapes and endearing characters in stories standardized and often without surprise. The director finds again the actress Veronica Ngo that he had directed in Fury and that was his greatest critical and public success to date.

The construction of the film on a script by Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton also reminds us of those many action films in huis such as Die Hard (1988) or the Raid (2011) in which the main character must make his way in a dangerous place and face his reflexes and his survival instinct to get there. Certainly The Princess is not a program for a very young audience because some scenes are violent and explain, for example, its broadcast in the United States on Hulu and in France in the Star section intended for a more mature audience. The fact of placing the action in an ancient time and in a castle allows the film to distinguish itself from its illustrious films but also to play cleverly on the presence of secret passages, ancient staircases and also the presence of a large kitchen for one of the very successful moments of the film. Certainly The Princess celebrates the girl power and reminds us by her character the Hit-Girl of Kick Ass. 

Certainly breaking with the princess films from which Disney has drawn material for many animated films, The Princess surprises by breaking this genre and by introducing action cinema as we often appreciate it, certainly simplistic but terribly effective in its action scenes. Gone is the nice prince worthy of Barbie's world, as beautiful as simple. In this film, women are revealed to be the best in battle, whatever the side, and above all they show that being beautiful does not mean being smooth and full of herself. Undoubtedly, The Princess is one of the best films currently available on Hulu in the United States.

However, behind the undeniable effectiveness of The Princess, the question arises as to the future of 20th Century Studios, which had brought us so many excellent films to the cinema and had marked in more than one way our memory as film lovers. While theatrical releases are becoming increasingly rare for them, their productions now seem destined to fill the Hulu / Disney+ streaming platforms like the much anticipated Prey which will be released on August 5th on Disney+ in France and Hulu in the United States. Of course, their highly anticipated film Avatar: The Way of Water will be released in theaters and will mark the end of the year with a colossal worldwide success, but we would like their productions to find all their strength and especially the way to theaters.

The Princess
Directed by Le-Van Kiet
Written by Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton
Produced by Toby Jaffe, Derek Kolstad, Neal H. Moritz
Starring Joey King, Dominic Cooper, Olga Kurylenko, Veronica Ngo
Cinematography : Lorenzo Senatore
Edited by Alex Fenn
Music by Natalie Holt
Production companies : 20th Century Studios, Original Film
Distributed by Hulu (United States), Disney+ (International), Star+ (Latin America)
Release date : July 1, 2022 (United States, France)
Running time : 94 minutes

Seen on July 1, 2022

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