Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Studio/HULU
The princess is an action film whose premise reaches such deranged heights of cynical pandering that writers Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton must have traded windmill high-fives once they figured it out. Its main character, played by Joey King, is the king’s daughter (Ed Stoppard) in a fairytale kingdom that seems to consist mainly of a tower overlooking the sea. When she refuses the marriage arranged between her and a lord named Julius (Dominic Cooper), Julius decides to use force to change her mind, seize the castle and capture the royals. But the princess, who has otherwise never been given a name, has been conveniently trained in martial arts, and rather than being dragged down the aisle in chains, she’s soon beating, kicking and cutting herself from floor to floor in an attempt to save her family, proving her worth along the way Father that he does not need a male heir to pass on the leadership. It’s like The raid received a concussion and wing membership.
What the heck is it with princesses anyway? The smugness with which The princess presents the spectacle of a 110-pound woman in a chubby dress running through passable fight choreography, enough to make you wonder if anyone involved in the film was paying attention to the last few decades of pop culture (or seen a Joss Whedon show). . Princesses kick ass now – they lead the way, they save the day, and they’re also still traditionally beautiful and feminine and lithe, the latter point being hammered home in this new film by a sophisticated fat joke. The princess has been a revisionist figure for so many years that we’ve lost the notion that one of the few defining qualities of the role, aside from class, is a lack of agency, especially when it comes to marriage. Our connection to this increasingly vague concept, heavily fueled by Disney’s branding and the eternal appeal of a flounce dress, has led us to the empowerment impasse The princesswhose main character tries to prove that women are just as deserving as men when it comes to inheriting power because of the circumstances of their birth.
With her Kewpie doll face and increasingly tattered medieval wedding dress, King is a game action hero, if not a notable one. The princess clearly wants to be seen in the bloody younger tradition of David Leitch-related films like that John Wicks, Atomic Blondeand No one, but is more sloppy in construction and strives for longer takes while dishing out its punches in combat. it feels rushedwhich it probably was — Vietnamese-American director Le-Van Kiet already had two other films in theaters this year, the horror film the ancestors and the Alicia Silverstone Shark Attack Thriller the rekin. He is best known for the 2019 gangster drama fury, and here enlists the film’s star, Veronica Ngo, to play Linh, the disciple of the king’s adviser, Khai (Kristofer Kamiyasu). The king, it is explained, has always opened his doors to “outsiders,” which Julius derides as a weakness, though xenophobia is as half-hearted a sign of villainy as aristocratic acceptance is a display of generosity. Linh and Khai are there to participate in the time-honored film tradition of affirming white dominance in Asian martial arts. When the princess defeats Khai in a skirmish, he emphasizes that she “has the heart of a warrior” and solemnly presents her with the sword, which she uses to impale various henchmen.
So why can’t I stop thinking about this stupid movie elevator pitch gag? His empty girl power aesthetic has the quality of an intrusive thought. Like something from a time capsule that broke up too soon The princess is an artifact of girlboss feminism that lacks resonance but is also not distant enough to have any curiosity value. As the protagonist strips her voluminous outfit down to a combat corset and billowing skater skirt, and howls about the fact that she’s “not property to be traded,” the film’s routine commodification of oppression comes as a set of catchphrases in an era of genuinely misogynistic national crisis extraordinarily painful. There is so much to be angry about right now, and anger can be cathartic and when shared can feel like an outstretched hand. Or in the case of The princess, it can be turned into an affirmation of the current order, which seems perfectly fine, save for the need for a royal lady on the throne of the theme park monarchy, which the film barely managed to invent. She turns anger into a joke, which she believes is permissible because she assumes that equality is secure and self-evident.