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How Joey King Feels About Hulu’s The Princess Drawing Comparisons To The Raid, Oldboy And Die Hard

Joey King in The Princess' poster
(Image credit: Hulu/ 20th Century Studios)

As director Le-Van Kiet and star/executive producer Joey King have delivered a one-two punch of action and humor with The Princess, audience members are going to be thinking about some familiar sounding movies. It’s no surprise to either King or Kiet, as they’ve heard their Hulu movie compared to the likes of Die Hard, Oldboy and The Raid. And yet, they absolutely encourage those parallels, as both collaborators have made those connections themselves, as well as a few others.

Joey King in The Princess.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Joey King And Le-Van Kiet’s Reactions To Those Princess Comparisons

Speaking with both Joey King and Le-Van Kiet on behalf of the press day for The Princess, thoughts were already flowing about what sort of movies this Hulu original seems to have been inspired by. Some may see that sort of thing as a backhanded remark akin to “been there/done that,” but certainly not King. In fact, as she told CinemaBlend, those comparisons felt natural:

I’m loving all the comparisons. People have a lot of different things that they pull from. Some people have said Kill Bill, a couple people say [Shrek’s] Princess Fiona. For me, the things that I pulled from, I would always say The Raid. The Raid really inspired me to get ready for this movie. I think that it’s just a very similar layout, as far as the structure of the movie.

One person fighting their way through a tower of villains with a bunch of obstacles spicing things up is definitely The Raid’s DNA. However, as promised in The Princess’s trailer, there’s also some Die Hard in the mix as well. Joey King certainly knew it, and even if it hadn’t been mentioned, Le-Van Kiet certainly made it known when he said the following: 

Add a little Die Hard to it too. A little of John McClane talking to himself. That kinda thing.

If there was anything that surprised Kiet about The Princess, it’s the fact that he lost track of the fact that there was 12 fights that make up the roughly hour and a half voyage. That fact only highlights even further just how flexible the concept from writers Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton actually was. Luckily, there was room for more movies to join in on the fun, as Joey King threw out two more important titles that made The Princess who she is.

Joey King stands with sword raised before her in The Princess.

(Image credit: Simon Varsano/20th Century Studios)

How The Princess Used Oldboy And Atomic Blonde As Important Influences

The Princess is Joey King’s first film as an action lead, and every frame of it commemorates that fact. Doing pretty much all of her own stunts, people will be surprised not to see a lot of cuts to stunt double-friendly angles. Even in scenes where Le-Van Kiet wasn’t expecting her to do the rolls and moves herself, King took such challenges head on.

To prepare herself for the tone and aspirations she had for The Princess’s action, Joey King said that Oldboy and Atomic Blonde were just as important as the movies mentioned above. In her words:

I also pulled a lot of inspiration from Oldboy. One of the hardest pieces for me, as far as just physically draining and the amount of prep it took, was the staircase sequence; and that’s my hallway/Oldboy sequence. Those two really pulled a lot of inspiration for me, but also Atomic Blonde was something that I used early on as a reference, when we were building the fight scenes. With choreography, I wanted to make sure that The Princess was not this hero that just blew through these fights so easily. She needs to get beat up, she needs to be exhausted. We need to think that she’s not going to make it, and we’re scared for her. And so Atomic Blonde was the true inspiration for me, for that kind of feeling.

With all of the work that Joey King put into what’s known as “the staircase sequence,” you can tell it’s her pride and joy as an actor and executive producer on The Princess. That also shows in King’s suggestion for a Disney Parks attraction, which would take that very scene and turn it into a thrill ride. 

Dedication is another common thread that runs through The Princess, as Le-Van Kiet matched Joey King when it came to the intensity that was required. Approaching the project as an action fan that just happens to be a director, Kiet pumped his team up with this work ethic:

We really wanted that to work, because [Joey] wanted that to work. We were self realizing ourselves too. We were like, ‘Look guys, we’re fans of this too. We’re coming into this just the same as anybody else,’ and like yourself. We checked ourselves, but we also wanted to have a lot of fun. We didn’t want to be taken so seriously, to the point where people were knocking us off on historical facts and all that. We were like, ‘Look, people are gonna come in here, right off the bat, we’re gonna give them what they want from the beginning, and explain later. And then, hopefully, they’re just gonna go with it.’

The Princess is kind of like a stew in this respect, as taking what fans want out of the movie, and cooking it with some stuff they never knew to expect turned out to be a wise move. It’s also the reason why Le-Van Kiet saw it as an opportunity he needed to be a part of. 

Veronica Ngo and Joey King stand with swords at the ready in The Princess.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Why The Princess’s Genre-Bending Was So Important To Director Le-Van Kiet

Putting together a ride like The Princess is a massive exercise in balance, especially with tone and action. Having the exciting combination of influences on the table only help calibrate that sort of execution, and it’s what excited Le-Van Kiet. As he continued discussing the unique nature of this film, Kiet also mentioned the two big audiences that were the intended target audience:

That’s really what attracted me to this project, is the genre-bending and the element of surprise. … I think it’ll excite action fans as well as young women who want to see this kind of young princess be different.

It wasn’t just action’s finest that were cited as influences by Le-Van Kiet, as two other Disney fairy tales were invoked. Specifically, the Rapunzel source material for Tangled and Disney/Pixar’s Brave were both laid out in the production notes by Kiet himself. While both films were present in the mix, one has more of a prevalent influence than the other.

Brave is more of a clearly drawn parallel due to Joey King’s Princess wanting to learn how to fight and refusing to marry against her own wishes. So throughout the action of The Princess, that Merida energy is definitely running strong; just without Brave's bear-raising twist. As for Tangled, besides the obvious setting of a tower, there was another sort of tip of the hat included.

Or rather, a tip of a frying pan, which Le-Van Kiet included in The Princess’s arsenal during a kitchen fight scene. Explaining how that came to be, Kiet admits that it wasn’t a conscious nod so much as a result of the following process:

Eh, it’s one of them. I actually like Brave a lot more. I wasn’t thinking to reference anything, but it just made sense in a kitchen fight. I heard it from an action team member when we tried it, and it worked really well in one take. He just turns to me and says, ‘You can never go wrong with a pan in the face.’ … Especially the way it’s pulled off, it adds more comedic effect to the scene.

If that’s not a loose translation of, “Frying pans! Who knew?!”, then I need some remedial lessons in Disney. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, Disney princess or action hero, the influences that made The Princess what it is helped turbocharge this streaming original film into what I consider to be one exciting ride. Rewatching the trailer provided below, you can get a feel for the finished film that awaits you on Hulu:

If you’re ready to follow The Princess (opens in new tab) on her quest to freedom, you’d better make sure your Hulu subscription is current. Should you need any more reasons to check into this particular streaming library, the listing of Hulu’s July 2022 new releases is as much of a case as anyone should need. 

Mike Reyes
Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.