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Hulu's The Princess Reviews Are Here, See What Critics Have To Say About The Joey King Action Film

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

If the trailer for The Princess is any indication, viewers are about to get a whole new take on a pretty classic princess story. Joey King stars as the titular character, and in this Le-Van Kiet-directed action movie, there’s no damsel in distress to be found. After refusing to marry the sadistic Julius (Dominic Cooper), The Princess learns to fight to save herself and the kingdom. Critics were able to screen The Princess ahead of its release to Hulu subscribers, so let’s see what the reviews have to say.

Along with Joey King and Dominic Cooper, the movie stars Veronica Ngo as Linh, who teaches The Princess martial arts, Olga Kurylenko as Julius’ sadistic sidekick and Ed Stoppard as the title character’s father. Let’s see what the critics think, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of The Princess. Mike Reyes rates the film 3 stars out of 5, saying Joey King has a lot of weight to pull in this movie, and she does it effortlessly, delivering a strong message of female empowerment:

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.

Peter Debruge of Variety says the script is full of clichés, but The Princess deserves credit for attempting to find the formula to help deprogram a generation used to seeing their princesses waiting to be saved or married off:

The Princess isn’t nearly as clever or twisted as 2019’s matrimony-averse Ready or Not (from the duo behind the recent Scream sequel), but it’s the kind of counterprogramming that an entire generation of viewers, altar-bound and hypnotized by decades of Disney movies, will find themselves wishing had existed when they were kids — and that no shortage of kids will internalize when screening this bloody Hulu original behind their parents’ back.

Jeff Ewing of Forbes agrees this is a formula that works, and Joey King really shows off her combat training, as action comprises about 90% of the movie. That leaves little room for character development, but this critic says that’s OK in this story about a princess who proves she’s able to handle her own business:

The Princess is a violent, energetic remix of traditional ‘princess needing rescued’ tropes, led by a talented Joey King who believably kicks all sorts of villainous derriere. Its plot is a little thin, there’s little in its runtime that isn’t action, but if it’s an action-heavy trope remixer you’re looking for (and it should be) this is exactly the film you need. It’s a grand time.

Not all the reviews are as positive, however, as Brent Simon of AV Club grades The Princess a D. This review says Joey King struggles to deliver a fully dimensional character, and she isn’t done any favors by the rest of the production, which has the overall air of cut corners and compromises:

A yawningly simplistic and roundly inconsequential action movie, The Princess lacks, on a narrative level, the certitude and clarity of purpose of its title character. Devoid of any attendant sense of even manufactured adventure, the result is something that is neither fish nor fowl—too generic for most genre fans, and too violent for preadolescents seeking some modicum of rah-rah uplift in this story of a young woman protecting her kingdom at the blade of a sword.

David Ehrlich of IndieWire also grades the film a D, agreeing that Joey King shouldn’t be held responsible for the movie’s messes, as actors are rarely asked to carry so much of a movie that does nothing to lift them up in return. The review does wonder who the intended audience is, with dialogue that is “sub-YA” being paired with Mortal Combat-level violence: 

This fable isn’t about a princess fighting back against her jailers, but rather about the princess — a dainty and helpless trope who’s desperate for a man to save her — rebelling against those expectations. That idea is not exactly clever enough to justify the film’s almost complete absence of detail or texture, but it would be wrong to ignore that The Princess consciously tries to transform its barebones nature from a bug into a feature.

The critics may not agree on how much they enjoyed The Princess, but they all say it’s full of violence and action. They also seem to like the typical “princess” story being turned on its head, even if they don’t agree on how successful the film was in its execution. If you’d like to judge for yourself, The Princess is available for streaming now on Hulu. Be sure to check out these other movies on Hulu, and start planning your next trip to the theater with our 2022 Movie Release Schedule.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.