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The Princess is a bloody snooze fest 

Joey King plays a feisty princess who must save the kingdom from her cruel suitor after he kidnaps and locks her in a tower for not wanting to marry him. (94 min.)

Editor's note: Regular reviewers Glen and Anna Starkey are on vacation. Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood and Staff Writer Bulbul Rajagopal filled in.

click to enlarge BLADES OF GORY A kidnapped, combat-savvy monarch (Joey King) battles her captor and his hordes of soldiers in Hulu's R-rated fairy tale thriller, The Princess. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HULU
  • Photo Courtesy Of Hulu
  • BLADES OF GORY A kidnapped, combat-savvy monarch (Joey King) battles her captor and his hordes of soldiers in Hulu's R-rated fairy tale thriller, The Princess.
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Bulbul Brought to you by Le-Van Kiet, who wrote and directed Furie (the martial arts crime thriller and highest-grossing Vietnamese film in history), The Princess immediately shows all the signs of having plenty of fight scenes. But be prepared because that's all you'll get. Set in a generic medieval Europe, the titular princess (Joey King), who remains unnamed, wakes up panicked in the bedroom of the tallest tower in her castle. She was locked in there by her suitor and son of the king's diplomat (Dominic Cooper) for not going through with their wedding. Their union was supposed to ensure an eligible heir for the kingdom because the king and queen only have daughters, and patriarchy is literally alive and kicking! The rest of the movie deals with The Princess traveling from top to bottom of the castle to save her family, who is held hostage. She takes down evil henchmen in an almost never-ending series of repetitive and long, drawn-out fight scenes. Coupled with the most confusing set of European accents, it's almost as if we're watching the worst Die Hard rip-off of all time.

Caleb Yippee-ki-yay, mother friar! The next time someone attempts to retread Die Hard with a medieval spin, they can at least give us a fun, love-to-hate villain of Hans Gruber's towering caliber. Of the numerous enemies The Princess faces off against during this downward spiral of a snooze fest, some are slightly memorable, but all are painfully one-dimensional. Among flail-brandishing brutes and one whip-wielding vixen (Olga Kurylenko), the film's main antagonist might be the most boring of the bunch. Mama Mia fans will recognize The Princess's evil suitor, Julius, as Cooper previously played a suitor with much nobler intentions, opposite Amanda Seyfried. "Don't go wasting your emotion," Cooper sang in the ABBA musical. I just wish his character gave us a similar warning at the start of The Princess. I'm struggling to recall anything I truly enjoyed about this film. I did like the "White Wedding" cover that plays during the end credits, so there's that. Even with an hour and a half runtime, watching The Princess will make you feel like you just wasted a fortnight. It doesn't even fall into the "so bad, it's good" category. It's just so, so bad. I'll be shocked if this ever becomes a cult classic.

Bulbul Congratulations on staying until the end credits. That takes more grit than The Princess herself had. I'm also trying to wrap my head around the movie's world-building. Apparently, this version of medieval Europe is post-racial because it also includes two Asian warriors, Linh (Veronica Ngo) and Khai (Kristofer Kamiyasu), who secretly trained The Princess in the art of combat. We also see a handful of other Asian and Black people as part of the kingdom's worried subjects. So, racism has been cured. The Princess only has to deal with sexism and a couple of broken bones, phew! The fight scenes would have been more enjoyable if they weren't so long, if they were married to a meatier plot, and if the violence wasn't gratuitous. But props to King for reportedly doing most of the stunt work. I enjoyed seeing her use her wedding dress and pearls as literal weapons. Plot progression can be tracked by the state of her dress, what with The Princess tearing off bits of lace to bandage her wounds and strangle people. But thanks to its overabundance of punches, The Princess fails to strike a compelling story.

Caleb I love a good, deconstructed fairy tale when it's done well. Shrek and Enchanted are perfect examples. I think the big selling point for The Princess, to differentiate it from those family-friendly films, is its R-rating for graphic violence. But the violence isn't over the top enough to be entertaining. The fight scenes are so bland and repetitive; there's almost no way of distinguishing one brawl from the next. I'd rather watch someone play Mortal Kombat on Twitch for two hours. When we learn about The Princess's cookie-cutter backstory and her combat training through awkward flashbacks, I feel like the movie is trying to trick us into thinking this is the first time we've ever seen someone in a tiara kick ass. Xena? Wonder Woman? Princess Fiona? Never happened. I think King was a good pick for the role though, and not just because of her last name. I could totally see her leading a franchise with this character if she was given a second outing with a better story, plenty of creative kills, and a more dynamic, menacing villain to beat the crap out of. Δ

Staff Writer Bulbul Rajagopal and Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood wrote Split Screen this week. Send comments to [email protected].

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