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Review: 'The Princess' (2022) Dir. Le-Van Kiet

Joey King, Dominic Cooper, Olga Kurylenko, Veronica Ngo, Ed Stoppard and Alex Reid


A fairytale that doesn't hold back on action and violence, taking the sweet old tale of a damsel in distress locked in a tower, only to shred it to bloody pieces, for a tale as ye olde as time...

When a young Princess (King) is set to marry the rich, charming Julius (Cooper), she has a change of heart. Without mercy, she is locked in the top of the castle's tower and her family imprisoned as Julius sets out to take the throne and the kingdom.

Knowing she is her family's - and kingdoms - only hope, the Princess breaks free and sets out to escape the tower. She has the help from her combat teacher Linh (Vgo) to navigate the seeking guards, mercenaries and dangerous Moira (Kurylenko) out to stop her.

As the Princess makes it further and further into the bowels of the castle away from her captors, she will have to take on her new destiny to stand for what is right, defeat Julius and his guards, protect all she cares for and bring peace to her father's kingdom once more...

Joey King is a star well on the rise, and only into her early twenties. King is the nameless Princess of the film, locked at the top of a huge tower facing marriage to a rich youth who turns out he wants the throne for himself. With her family locked up and people ravaged, the Princess needs to fight her way out of her shackles, down the tower and to save everything she holds dear. Our Princess runs, slides, rolls, jumps, fights, creeps, hobbles and swings around the tower with grace from room to room, stairwell to stairwell. Be it in secret passages, underground catacombs or large open windows, it's one simple setting holding plenty of hidden traps and dangers.

King has fire, real fire. She plays our Princess perfectly as a young girl forced to take upon her royal duty, but also standing strong in the face of adversity and fight to protect everything she loves. King is a joy to watch thanks to her immersion in the role, be it the action or the tender drama. And she doesn't do it all alone.

Veronica Ngo as Linh is the one who has taught the Princess how to fight, to survive, to stand alone and never give up. The fusion of Oriental lore and martial arts is ever present in todays action films, and this is no different. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-esque sword fights, flips, rolls and kicks remind you this is a fairytale with a real...kick. It's a violent blend of Mulan and Brave, but with no room for fluttering eyes, innocent youths and rosy cheeks from any expected princesses here. This Princess is happy to fight, drink, belch and cuss in good measure.

From the off, this is an action film that doesn't need to be full on gratuitous blood and guts, but within minutes we have impaled eyes, multiple stabbings leading to sword slices, broken bones, engulfing by fire... pretty much as much damage that can be done without the use of guns is done. This only adds to the fun and fresh take to action, presenting many opportunities for well choreographed hand-to-hand combat and stunts which really is relentless, but sometimes laced with a little gentle cheeky humour to keep us on side of our young heroine doing what most Disney prince's would never be able to do.

Many compare this 90min romp to 'The Raid', and it's easy to do so. Yet it should take pride in such comparison due to the production taking no short-cuts to offer an entertaining ye olde blood-bath like we've never seen before.

The bastards in black, the villains of the piece you are under no illusions about, are having a ball. Dominic Cooper is the bitter and ruthless Julius out to take the kingdom for his own by betrothing the princess, and Olga Kurylenko with smouldering dark eye shadow and a killer whip is Moira, the one who will do anything to protect Julian with sadistic glee. With King dressed in white and Cooper in black, it's classic good vs evil all the way through with hordes of both useless guards and tough soldiers standing between them.

It's disposable fun, but not in a cheap way. It's short but never really rushed. The detail is spot-on for the genre, and it plays out like a potential future video game with a simple objective; escape the tower, defeat the bad guys, save your family and protect the realm. It's the stuff that sheer popcorn entertainment is made of!

Not a cheap made-for-TV movie, but a balls to the wall, well produced action fairytale that turns the damsel in distress on her head and puts typical Disney princesses to shame. Bloody good fun. Literally!

The Princess' is a co-production between 20th Century Studios and Original Film

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