Hulu continues its summer releases with The Princess. This film follows the princess (yes, she is unnamed) as she attempts to escape her tower, refusing to be wed to a cruel man vying for the throne. Action-packed and snarky, this is a decently fun film if you need a fighting fix.
Of course, as a film titled The Princess, you expect it to be female-forward. However, for such a violent action movie, it's still nice to see more women than men. After all, even leading women in action movies are often surrounded by a male supporting cast. Yes, this film had its fair share of men, but most are simply extras to get beat up in a cool way. The only two men that really have any purpose are Julius (the man the protagonist is marrying) and the King, her father. They also have a somewhat throwaway character named Khai, but we'll get to him in a minute.
Much of the movie is centered on the Princess, but we soon meet her childhood mentor, Linh, who in my opinion, is the best character in the film. Reminiscent of wuxia dramas and old kung-fu movies, she nimbly evades enemies and slashes them with daggers. She is the protagonist's main support system throughout the story. We also meet the Queen and the Princess's sister, Violet, but they honestly aren't important unless they're making things harder for the princess (which they do).
A character I found myself loving was the co-villain Moira. Did she have much of a background? No. However, she was Julius' mistress and she was usually the one doing his dirty work. She is very Catwoman-esque as she wears a black leather suit and has an epic whip with a blade at the end, an aesthetic I frequently enjoy.
Overall, the movie was very blankly giving the "men suck" girlboss message and did feel forced at moments.
As mentioned before, the only non-white characters are Linh and Khai. Their race is never defined but much of the movie implies that they are from elsewhere. In real life, Khai is Japanese-Swedish and Linh is Vietnamese-Norwegian. Interestingly, the director, Lê Văn Kiệt, is fully Vietnamese. These three are really where the movie's racial diversity ends.
That being said, I personally thought that Linh and Khai were the most interesting characters and I desperately wanted more of them. Both were talented and fought very well but were also kind and even funny at times. The Asian representation was honestly a bit random (what medieval princess is getting martial arts lessons endorsed by the Queen?) but it was welcome.
The movie is linear. The Princess is fighting her way down the tower and by the time we're are the bottom, it's the end of the movie. Some variety in location would've personally made the movie more enjoyable. I'm happy the Princess outsmarts her enemies instead of overpowering them. Many of the men she fights are twice her size with armor and muscles bigger than her head, so I felt like pure strength would be wildly unrealistic. Despite this intelligence, Linh and the Princess find their way to the armory and pick up practically nothing. The Princess puts on a flimsy leather chest piece that leaves her arms, legs, and pelvis exposed. Then they just grab two swords and that's it. It annoyed me to no end because it felt like they were trying to keep the Princess pretty instead of practical with true armor.
At this point, I'm really just nit-picking, but they were bothersome.
This film isn't a masterpiece, but it definitely was entertaining. It is heavy on the "progressive" message, but I personally can get over it. Hulu honestly has many better options, but this is a fun pick for some brainless, popcorn-eating action.