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Film / The Princess (2022)

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The Princess is an epic fantasy action film from Disney, and is an Original Film directed by Le-Van Kiet, and written by Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton, starring Joey King (The Princess), Dominic Cooper (Julius), Veronica Ngo (Linh), and Olga Kurylenko (Moira), among many others.

A strong and beautiful princess must escape the tower she's holed up in, not only to save her family but also the kingdom from the forces of her sociopathic former betrothed, who is determined to take her father's throne after being disregarded.

The film was released directly to Hulu in the US and to Disney+ internationally on July 1, 2022.

Try not to confuse this with the documentary, having the same title and being released in the same year, about Princess Diana.

Previews: Official Trailer

The Princess includes examples of:

  • Action Dress Rip: When she gets a moment to rest, the Princess tears off her dress to knee height and pulls off one of the sleeves before she's interrupted.
  • Action Girl: The Princess and Linh, her teacher, are skilled female warriors. In the story, they take on dozens of male soldiers (many much larger than them) and beat them handily.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: "Joey King is The Princess ", as seen on the movie's release poster.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: The film's East Asian characters (or fantasy equivalent) Linh and Khai, her uncle, both know martial arts. Linh instructs the Princess (portrayed by a white American) and gives her equal skills.
  • An Aesop: Three, actually.
    • Most obviously, women can also fight for their families and save themselves when given training.
    • Less obviously it was foreign 'outsiders' - whose presence Julius cited as evidence of weakness - who both gave the Princess the skills to save the kingdom and were willing to teach her. The diversity the King allowed or encouraged saved the kingdom.
    • The Princess wonders if everything that happens is her fault as none of this would have happened if she'd just married Julius. Linh says no, Julius would have been a monster no matter what choice she made. Appeasing violent abusers does not stop them from being violent abusers.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Julius simply will not take "no" for an answer from the Princess, dead set on wedding her to legally take control of her kingdom. He locks her in a tower when she first refuses, later threatening her sister and saying he'd marry her (a girl of ten or so) instead if she won't, which of course horrifies her.
  • Appeal to Tradition: Julius cites this as why he feels he must marry the Princess to be king.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. One of the Princess' tougher fights is against a knight in full plate. She can't get through it and tries instead to pierce the chainmail clad joints, then finishes the fight by covering him in oil and setting it ablaze. In the courtyard fight, she tells Linh to "Aim for the joints".
  • Arranged Marriage: The Princess was engaged to Julius without consent by her father, but she flatly refuses to go along with it. A good thing too, as Julius turns out to be a horrible man.
  • Attempted Rape: The Princess has one guard attempt to rape her in the first scene. She breaks free of her manacles and kills him and his fellow guard, then escapes. Later on she and Linh save a kitchen maid from other mooks clearly meaning to rape her too.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: One of the guards has a horned helmet with slits for eyes. Then we see from his perspective, where he completely fails to see the Princess right under him because his eye slits are blocking most of his vision. Later, the horns prove detrimental when the Princess uses them to twist the helmet around and blind him, then tears it off and impales him with it.
  • Balls of Steel: The Princess kicks a Giant Mook in the groin but it does nothing.
    Princess: That usually works.
  • The Baroness: Moira has elements of this, leaning towards the Sexpot variety. She wears tight clothing made from leather, is very beautiful, and wields a whip, while being the Big Bad's lover/lieutenant. Moira's cold with everyone but him, but clearly enjoys using her whip on others.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Zigzagged. While the Princess's face gets off easy, she does get a few nasty cuts and gets stained with blood throughout the movie.
  • Big Bad: Julius plans to marry the Princess and later Violet in a forced marriage so he can seize the throne for himself.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Julius threatens the Princess' sister to make her comply. It does not work, and remembering that her sister is counting on her only hardens her resolve.
  • Big Sister Worship: Violet, the Princess' younger sister, is clearly impressed by her fighting prowess, wanting to fight along with her. The Princess has to gently tell her not this time, but promises she'll be trained as a warrior herself later.
  • Bookcase Passage: The Princess uses passages intended for the servants to move discretely through the castle to evade pursuit, and they are often in this spirit. They even include view holes to make the service even more seamless.
  • Brick Joke: A heavyset soldier of Julius's is ordered multiple times to search for the Princess and fails each time, at one point walking right by her and being too winded to even look up. After not being seen for most of the final stretch of the film, he reappears at the very end, at which point he explains "There she is!".
  • Bullying a Dragon: One of Julius' mooks insults Moira, his concubine. This might be a bad idea anyway, openly insulting his lord's woman, but she promptly kills the idiot too.
  • Character Title: It's named after the titular unnamed Princess.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The hardest fights are all one-on-one. Particularly notable in the courtyard fight, where the Princess and Linh defeat several soldiers in armor while exhausted. A single soldier in armor was a major challenge at the beginning of the film.
  • Damsel out of Distress: The Princess frees herself from captivity quickly in the beginning, killing many mooks that threaten her and escapes several situations where she's in great danger.
  • Dark Action Girl: Moira, Julius' mistress, is equally skilled to the Princess and Linh with use of her long whip. She's The Baroness and wears dark clothing, giving both of them a very hard fight.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The Princess protests her father betrothing her to Julius, a man she's never even met, and says it's like she's a breeding sow (as he did this to get a male heir). Her father is disappointed, saying she's foolish and selfish for saying so, ordering her to do her duty for her family. It's the kind of retort an actual medieval king might well make when a Princess makes this protest (as so many do in fantasy).
    • As some critics have pointed out, in spite of the film's overtly feminist message, it does little to challenge other power structures, such as hereditary monarchy, and no characters really question it.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Die Hard in a Medieval Castle. The entire movie takes place in one castle that has been taken over by Julius' men and stars a protagonist who sneaks around fighting them.
  • Disney Death: Linh appears to be slain by Julius before he's killed as a classic case of Mentor Occupational Hazard, but turns out to have survived at the end. Foreshadowed by the fact that Khai is shown hustling her off, presumably to see to her wound.
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: One of Julius's Elite Mooks, dressed only in a horned helmet and leather shorts, stops to admire himself in the mirror. This would be less of a problem, except that the Princess is holding her breath underwater nearby and desperate for him to leave.
  • Double Weapon: Linh has two swords which attach at the hilts to form a single dual-bladed one.
  • The Dragon: Moira serves this role, being Julius's most competent and prominent follower.
  • Dual Wielding: The Princess and Linh both wield two swords at once with great skill.
  • Escape Artist: The Princess escapes more than once, from manacles through dislocating her thumb and out of a high tower when the way down is guarded through wall climbing.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When one of the Princess' guards starts advancing on her unconscious body, the other flatly tells him that if he touches her he'll break his face. Of course, he's saving her for Julius, but he seems notably disgusted nonetheless.
  • Evil Counterpart: Much like the Princess, Moira is a powerful Action Girl who is looked down on by the men of her society.
  • Evil Gloating: Julius engages in this as a show of power. This gets him killed at the end of the film, when he has the Princess cornered and is one sword stroke away from controlling the kingdom, but can't help himself from giving a big speech while forcing her out into the courtyard to die in front of her subjects.
  • Evil Prince: Julius is a ruthless foreign prince who sneers at the king's ruling with compassion, seizing control over his kingdom. Then he attempts to force the Princess into marrying him to legitimize this.
  • Evil Wears Black: Big Bad Julius wears a lot of black, as do many of his men.
  • Eye Scream: The Princess stabs one of her guards fatally in the eye with a hair pin.
  • Excuse Plot: While the film does try to flesh out the situation and backstory of Princess during her rampage down the tower with flashbacks and some incidental dialogue, it mostly serves to justify why she can fight so well, as well as provide some context for the situation. Otherwise, the film is merely an excuse to see a string of creative, well choreographed, action scenes.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Before they're all actively trying to take down the Princess, Julius's men are so preoccupied with having fun plundering the castle that she's able to slink away without them noticing.
  • Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter: The Princess, a tomboy who likes to fight and is well trained in doing so, has a demure Proper Lady mother in the queen. Unlike in many examples however, it was her mother who had her trained to fight, quietly supporting her daughter while her father the king is not happy at all when learning about her unfeminine activities.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The Princess refuses to comply with feminine norms, secretly training herself to fight and then rejects a marriage which she didn't consent to. After this, she has to fight off her would-be husband who's taken over and won't accept "no" for an answer (which is putting it mildly). She's rewarded finally by her father admitting she proved him wrong, accepting her as a warrior woman and making her his heir, while also saying in the future all Princesses of the realm will be allowed to make these choices.
  • Fiery Redhead: The Princess has long, wavy red hair and is a passionate, rebellious young woman who refuses to submit when coerced into marriage with a foreign prince, who she fights against.
  • Girl in the Tower: The Princess is introduced when locked in a tower, which she quickly escapes.
  • Groin Attack: The Princess tries this on one of Julius's soldiers only for it to not be effective at all. She's openly surprised that it didn't work like it's supposed to. Later, she does the same thing with a sword and it works much better.
  • Heir Club for Men: The reason for the Princess being engaged by her father to a foreign prince was so he could have a male heir, since it's made clear that she can't inherit directly from him. At the end though he changes this after she successfully saves herself and the family from Julius, and she's made his heir.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Moira uses her whip to nearly strangle the Princess and Linh. In the end, she's hung with it by the Princess after overpowering her.
  • Horns of Barbarism: A couple of Julius's soldiers have horned helmets. One even uses them as part of his fighting style. This pair have a more barbarian-type garb overall than the rest.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with the Princess in a tower killing her guards and escaping, with one mook saying "you'll never make it all the way below". Flashbacks are then interspersed with the narrative explaining why she was in the tower, who is imprisoning her, and how she learned to fight.
  • Improvised Weapon: Early on, the Princess uses her manacles, a hairpin and large pieces of firewood until she gets her hands on regular weapons. Even afterwards she and her enemies are happy to use whatever they have on hand to get an advantage, including lace, a horned helmet, a necklace of pearls, and a cabbage.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When the Princess finally makes it down to the dungeon, she grabs a mug of beer, drains the whole thing, belches, and says "I needed that." before engaging the mooks she stole it from.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Moira, Julius' mistress, says they should have sex again before he beds the Princess that night to consummate their marriage. They start to make out, but are interrupted by the Princess' escape before this can go further.
  • In the Back: The Princess almost manages to stab Julius through the wall of a secret passage when his back is turned to her, but he stops just out of reach.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Linh gets stabbed in the stomach by Julius, but survives and (though still hurt) is indicated to recover at the end.
  • Just in Time: The Princess and Linh arrive just as some mooks of Julius are about to rape a female servant in the kitchens.
  • Just You and Me and My GUARDS!: Both Moira and Julius conspicuously refuse to engage in combat until their mooks have softened Linh and the Princess up.
  • Little Miss Badass: Averted. Violet wants to fight, and the Princess promises to have her trained after it's all over, but right now she is simply not ready to engage in battle. Instead, she sneaks out and frees the prisoners, getting caught but causing a distraction at a crucial moment.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Linh, Violet, and the Princess get one of these before the final battle, gearing up in preparation with weapons. Or at least, Linh and the Princess gear up, Violet just puts on armor that's too big for her.
  • Low Fantasy: The story is set in a fairly realistic medieval-like realm, with no magic or fantasy creatures to be seen and very human-grounded conflict. A lot of bloody violence and gritty action takes place.
  • Made of Iron: The Princess is visibly injured several times, even needing to stop and patch up near the middle of the movie, but continues onward. It isn't until the climax when she gets stabbed in the thigh that her injury slows her down, and even then she's able to carry on with a minor limp.
  • Man on Fire: One of the mooks is killed through catching on fire, before falling to his death.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Linh, the Princess' teacher in martial arts, gets stabbed in the climax. It's subverted though as she lives.
  • The Mistress: Moira is Julius' long-term lover, though he's going to marry the Princess. She seems fine with that, and he likely can't marry her as she's a commoner.
  • Mooks: Julius' many brutal soldiers who exist to get killed by the Princess and Linh.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • It's shown multiple times that the Princess' conviction in not marrying isn't ironclad and that she wonders if she should do her duty for the good of the kingdom, with her leaving Julius at the altar being less a principled stand and more a panic response. Had Julius left it alone, perhaps she could have been convinced to come around, but him taking her family hostage killed any chance of that.
    • At one point when the Princess expresses this doubt, Linh tells her that Julius would be a monster regardless. If he had been a decent person and took the time to woo her and maybe act a little nicer towards women and minorities, he would have gotten the throne he wanted with far less bloodshed.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: An accidental version. The Princess emerges from a secret passage, coming out directly between the legs of what she thinks is an empty suit of ceremonial armor. In fact it's an actual knight standing around in ceremonial armor for some reason, and a fight scene ensues.
  • No Name Given: The Princess, along with her parents, are not called by their names, only the royal titles for each (Princess, king and queen). Only her little sister, Princess Violet, is ever named.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Linh makes a joke about how painful a corset is after the Princess sheds hers.
  • Off with His Head!: How the Princess kills Julius.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Not only does Julius get offended that the Princess refuses to Stay in the Kitchen - indeed he seems more upset that she's rude then that she's massacring his guards - he also cites the Asian and African 'outsiders' in the kingdom as another sign of weakness. He also sneers at the king ruling with compassion, feeling a true ruler must be brutal.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The fat merc being too tired/lazy to give an appropriate sitrep when he finally reaches the Princess' chambers at the top of the tower, giving her some time to get further downstairs. This trope can also be taken literally, since this also allows her to chop up plenty of Julius' troops on the way.
  • Princess Protagonist: The protagonist is an unnamed Warrior Princess who must take back her kingdom when it's seized along with her parents by an evil foreign prince.
  • Properly Paranoid: The moment he comes across a guard who apparently "fell out" of the tower, Julius orders his men to secure the Princess. Unfortunately, his lieutenant is lazy and just sends up a single merc to check on her, who is fooled by the Sleeping Dummy.
  • Rebellious Princess: The Princess secretly trained in combat without permission by her father the king, refusing to submit when coerced into marrying by Julius, fighting both him and his men.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: The whole movie is the Princess trying to rescue her family from Julius. She manages it halfway until she gets caught, then manages it for real once she kills him.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Princess does not sit around waiting to be rescued demurely. Instead, using her skill in combat she takes on Julius and his soldiers. Julius himself is a match for her, albeit only after she has already fought her way through a significant fraction of his entire army.
  • Runaway Bride: The Princess refused to marry Julius, leaving him at the altar.
  • Sleeping Dummy: The Princess sets one up in her chambers with pillows and the dead guard on watch, which buys her some time.
  • Slippery Skid: The Princess has a pearl necklace on at the beginning. She tears it off and uses the pearls to trip up a group of guards.
  • Slut-Shaming: Moira, Julius' mistress, is called a whore and useless by one of his soldiers. She kills him for the foolish remark immediately.
  • Soft Water: Zigzagged. The Princess knocks an attacker out of a high window into the water below; he's later found having washed up on shore, killed either killed by the fall or drowning. But later, the Princess herself falls from a window into the same moat, and is none the worse upon surfacing. (Granted, this window was not as high, but she was mainly saved by Plot Armor.)
  • Succession Crisis: The queen not having given birth to any sons is what caused the very concerned King to promise the Princess's hand to Julius to begin with. The Princess defeating Julius in the end convinces him to change the law so that women can inherit the throne.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Unlike most medieval themed fantasy movies, this film accurately shows that an opponent wearing full plate armor is all but invulnerable to sword slashes. The only recourse is to stab between the joints.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The Princess kills an enemy archer by throwing her sword at him (albeit from pretty close range).
  • Tomboy Princess: The Princess prefers to train for combat out in the woods with Linh, her instructor, and wants to become a knight rather than marry a prince.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The entire enemy army thinks they're just dealing with some pampered Princess..right to the moment she starts killing them in droves.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Big Bad Julius and The Baroness Moira, his lieutenant, are lovers.
  • The Usurper: After the Princess wouldn't go through with marrying him as her father arranged, Julius took control of the royal castle including taking her prisoner along with her family and tries to coerce her into the marriage to legitimize this. When she fights back, he continues coercing the king and her to obey.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Julius is convinced that kings must rule brutally, and sneers at the Princess' father ruling with compassion toward his subjects.
  • Wall Crawl: The Princess climbs up the side of the castle outside twice to escape.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: The king is initially perturbed by his daughter the Princess being taught how to fight without him knowing and her wish to become a knight rather than married off to a prince. After she rescues him and her mother from said prince though he sees the error of his ways, not only declaring that from here on princesses can choose their own path but making her his heir (whereas previously he'd lamented not having a son to succeed him).
  • Warrior Princess: The titular heroine is one, as demonstrated throughout the film, ably fighting off the evil prince's henchmen - even kicking one out the window of her tower. Initially, her father the king is dismayed by her having trained as a warrior, since it's unfeminine to him. He accepts it at the end, seeing how she rescued the entire royal family due to her skills.
  • Whip of Dominance: Moira is a skilled whip-wielder with a sadistic and domineering personality who has a black leather attire. She even uses the whip to strangle people.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Julius and his mooks never show any hesitation in harming the Princess, her sister Violet nor Linh (a woman who's the Princess' teacher in combat).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Julius threatens Violet, the Princess' younger sister, to get her submission for their marriage, saying if she won't marry him then he'll wed Violet instead (who's ten or so) with all that entails.