The Pitch: What if there was a princess — only she’s not like a regular princess, she’s a cool princess, meaning she can do crazy fight moves, which no one expects because she’s a princess? Girl power! If you’re thinking this sounds a bit like a hacky Matrix-referencing scene from the movie Shrek, you’re right. It does. And Shrek was far from the first or last movie to spoof princess tropes.
At this point, Disney has been deconstructing and reclaiming its own fairy-tale princesses for multiple decades, growing from the shallow parody of Enchanted to the multifaceted reimagining of Frozen or Moana. Over this same period, the Disney kingdom has expanded, to the point where it now owns the formerly grown-up movie studio 20th Century Studios (formerly Fox), who have produced their own princess revisionism.
So yes, The Princess is more or less a bloodier variation on that bit from Shrek: A young princess (Joey King) wakes up imprisoned in a guarded tower, and proceeds to free herself with sick fight moves. The happy surprise, though, is that the fight moves are actually kind of sick, rather than third-rate bullet-time jokes.
The Kicking Booth: What makes The Princess so surprisingly fun is its commitment to a hooky premise: The movie really is about a princess fighting her way from the top of a tower to elsewhere in the castle, where Julius (Dominic Cooper), the man who she left at the altar, holds the rest of her family, intending to force her into marriage and consolidate his power.
There are some flashbacks explaining this situation (mostly tedious) and some flashbacks showing how exactly this princess became such a skilled killing machine (mostly satisfying), padding the movie out to a full 87 minutes or so sans credits. But an impressive amount of The Princess consists of Joey King engaged in a series of improbable, bloody, and dexterous fights with an endless supply of generic British goons.
I admit to some skepticism over whether the erstwhile Ramona and star of the Kissing Booth trilogy would be up for this level of stylized combat without adding, at minimum, a bunch of cutesy quips and winks. There are a few of the former and not any of the latter; King manages the crucial action-hero trick of appearing to enjoy herself without treating the whole enterprise as an inside joke.