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Hulu’s The Princess Review: A Surprising Blast Of Action, Lace, And Very Bloody Revenge

Joey King reigns with pain in this Hulu original.

Joey King and Veronica Ngo bloodied, holding their swords in battle in The Princess.
(Image: © 20th Century Studios / Simon Varsano)

Action movies are amazingly flexible when you really think about it. A number of other genres can pair well with fast chases and exciting battles, and so long as the characters and the antics hold up each end of the bargain, magic can happen. That could be a word used to describe Le-Van Kiet's The Princess, as it re-assembles the pieces of other genre greats and even some fan favorite Disney animated films into one hell of a ride.

Le-Van Kiet wastes no time putting the audience into the action, as our story starts with The Princess (Joey King) confined to a tower. Imprisoned after she refuses to marry the megalomaniacal Julius (Dominic Cooper), our heroine is ready to fight her way out of captivity to save her family. She just needs to make her way through waves of armor clad henchmen, take out Julius’s sadistic right hand woman (Olga Kurylenko), and arrive at the ground floor with as little physical damage as possible. 

It’s a simple track to follow, but The Princess makes the most of its relatively short running time. Though the story could go deeper, what we lack in backstory is made up for in flashbacks and forward momentum. It should also be noted that for a film that’s in the range of an hour-and-a-half in length, there’s 12 fight sequences that make up The Princess’s path to freedom. Nary a dull moment presents itself, and as a result the movie flies high and fast.

The Princess mashes up Die Hard, The Raid, and a Disney Princess movie into a pretty entertaining thrill ride.

Clearly in the DNA of The Princess are movies like Die Hard and The Raid, crossed with the influences of the princesses from Disney’s Brave and Tangled. If that’s not a concept that grabs your attention, then you might want to look elsewhere for entertainment. Those movies are locked in tightly into writers Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton’s script, and only further nurtured by the fact that John Wick writer/producer Derek Kolstad and the team at 87Eleven Action Design are a part of the fun behind the scenes.

This cinematic chemistry experiment works, as The Princess entertains as hard as it works to nail down its thrilling action. The movie ever overly exploiting its influences, fans of frenetic fights can admire and acknowledge the movies that shaped The Princess, but never feel like they’re forcing the story’s hand. It like having a familiar story told to you with a new twist, and the narrator trusts you to keep up without winking too much.

While The Princess is a quick and thrilling experience, there’s still a temptation to learn more about the past of the protagonist we’re following. Flashbacks do fill in details like how The Princess learned to fight, and explain her headstrong nature to resist an arranged marriage. Momentum may have been lost if this story were a more linear experience, and it almost feels like an earlier draft was built on such storytelling. In the end, the trade off between pacing and story is a small one; especially when every step of the way is carried by Joey King’s energy and commitment to The Princess.   

Joey King impressively flexes her muscles as both star and executive producer with this lightning fast movie.

With the title, the plot, and every other aspect of The Princess relying on its star to lead the way, Joey King had a huge mountain to climb in the making of this movie. It never looks like it though, as she effortlessly glides through her foes with efficiency and fleet footing.

With Joey King doing a significant number of her own stunts and fights, action junkies who love to spot double-friendly scenes will be challenged. Equally impressive is Joey King’s performance as The Princess’ lead, as never totally helpless in her quest. Setbacks and strategy intersect throughout the path to the ground floor, but The Princess is never shown to be anything but up to the challenge.

Even Joey King’s devoted fans are bound to be amazed, as her days in rom-coms like The Kissing Booth series feel like they are left in the dust from what she does in The Princess. Joey King has a hell of a future in action.

The Princess never takes opportunities for granted, delivering its message effectively in-between attacks. 

Female empowerment and the importance of charting one’s own course factors heavily into The Princess, as you can see in the mere description of what’s at stake. Some versions of that sort of story would potentially be hampered by either hamfisted dialogue and symbolism, or perhaps too much of an acidic tongue possessed by the lead. That’s not the case here, as the message is woven rather well into the fights and spectacle that come into play.

At this point in the year, big ticket thrills are ruling the roost, and a bunch of competitors will test their might with stories that include swords, explosions, and strong willed fighters. The Princess competes toe-to-toe with all who challenge her, and does so with an energy that more action bonanzas would do well to emulate. It’s still a bit light on the story end, but potential future installments could build the world out further.

The door is wide open for Joey King’s Princess to return, should the powers that be choose to go down that path. Just as the action greats that contributed to The Princess’s overall model, this could be the start of a recurring franchise that potentially builds the next big female action lead. If you bow before The Princess, know that you're pledging yourself to a start-to-finish quest that takes no prisoners and is exciting at every turn.

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.