In the first seven minutes of Le-Van Kiet Princess, the circumscribed protagonist of Joey King kills three men with a hairpin, a war hammer, and a tower window fortuitously overlooking the sea. perfectly suits Kiet’s inclinations as a director. Whether Princess‘ mood can be described in four words, these words are “calm down”. Once Kiet launches his film, he only takes rare breaks here and there for plot-buttressing flashbacks, then ramps up the action and his audience as if judging a 5K. The backstory is good. Seeing King introduce dozens of nameless, lustful henchmen to their varying deaths is better.
Princess make a sandwich with Brave and Moanawith Kiet’s best-known film, Fury, as filler: a feisty and fiercely independent princess (King), who is only ever referred to by her title, wakes up from a deep, drug-induced nap in her bedroom, chained up and with hazy memories of an engagement which has become a betrayal. Julius (Dominic Cooper), the titled prince promised his hand by his father the King (Ed Stoppard), led a coup against the kingdom with his army, killed the castle guards and took his family – his father, his mother the Queen (Alice Reid) and her sister Violet (Katelyn Rose Downey) — hostage. Luckily for them, the princess is a warrior-in-waiting, trained in secret by Linh (Veronica Ngo), one of the king’s advisors. Let the acrobatic medieval carnage begin!
And boyKiet takes this responsibility to heart. Princess isn’t particularly bloody, but it isn’t sanitized either, resting somewhere between Lowering and John Wick on the “gross brutality” scale. Instead, Kiet builds Princess to a critical mass of fight scenes: Individually, they’re nasty within reason, but he stages so many of them contiguously that the pseudonymous Blood King heroine spills out like a flood. Good messy fun, in other words, orchestrated with gimbals, wide shots and a seemingly very team of fit cameramen who move nimbly alongside the actors as they perform the sharp choreography of fight coordinator Kefi Abrikh.
Kiet is a surprising choice to lead the project, being relatively unknown in the United States and with largely horror credits to his name; Fury is its obvious and strongest reference and frankly that’s all it needs given how good it is Fury is. The real wildcard is King, who recently clocked some impressive numbers (as far as Netflix numbers can be trusted) with her. kissing kiosk series, an equally frothy and retrograde rom-com trio. But if King’s career shows anything, it’s that it has charisma and potential, and Princess let her let go. There is catharsis in her performance, as if this growling, screaming, steely character had been bubbling and boiling in her belly for years, waiting for her release.
Watching King express his seemingly latent fierce side is a bewildering joy. In its way of moving, one has the impression that a cut in the arm is painful, yes, but also an affront and an inconvenience, like a mosquito bite that requires stitches and ointments. The lady is not in distress. She is furious. (Also: call her a damsel and she’ll kick you down a flight of stairs.) Princess avoids channeling that anger into an exaggerated clash with patriarchy, misogyny, and male dominance framed as performative “boss” slogans. Kiet, King and screenwriters Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton let these ideas play out through numerous rounds of men in padded armour, leather or plate being beaten senseless or to death by King as well as Ngo, who played the main role of Kiet in Fury with the same ferocity.
As intense as it is, Princess remains floating. Kiet’s focus is on breaking down human bodies through sheer violence, yes, but he has a playful spirit complemented, perhaps, by the presence of King; she is also a player. Likewise, she is complemented and aided by Kiet’s talents as an action director. Together they turn into the unexpected simpatico, whether King is doing stunt doubles, slicing through hordes of villains, or getting caught by Moira, Julius’ right hand and best wife, played by Olga Kurylenko with the taste of a cat. who caught a canary. Most action movies of 2022 simply exist. Princess reign.
Director: Le-Van Kiet
Writers: Ben Lustig Jake Thornton
With : Joey King, Dominic Cooper, Olga Kurylenko, Veronica Ngo, Ed Stoppard, Alice Reid, Katelyn Rose Downey
Release date: July 1, 2022 (Hulu)
Boston cultural journalist Andy Crump covers movies, beer, music and being a dad for far too many outlets, maybe even yours. He contributed to Dough since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter and find his complete work on his personal blog. It is made from approximately 65% craft beer.