TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It turns out "Happily ever after" involves a whole lot of punches, kicks and sword-slashes.
Turning the prototypical damsel in distress trope on its ear, the frenetic martial arts film features the title character as a death-dealing whirlwind of vengeance.
Joey King stars as the unnamed title character, who rejects her arranged marriage to a megalomaniac and immediately faces brutal consequences. Fending off an endless onslaught of assassins, she breaks out of captivity and dispatches her enemies with extreme prejudice.
Director Le-Van Kiet keeps the pace flowing, rarely pausing to allow the audience to take a breath.
The characters are all super-serious, but there is an intrinsic sense of humor and irony in the material. Along the way, the film's visuals and dialogue make continuous digs at typical fairy tales, taking every opportunity to subvert familiar tropes.
Despite the nonstop flow of action, the film might have been a bore had it lacked a charismatic star. But King, who was best known as the central character in the Netflix romcom series "The Kissing Booth," shows intensity and athleticism she's never before hinted at.
Seething with a proto-feminist thirst for justice, she dispatches every leering, mansplaining, overbearing enemy that confronts her. While some female combatants also enter the fray, the decided tone is one of oppressed female triumph over male dominance. That's a refreshing change of pace in a pop-culture realm long dominated by controlling male characters wrestling for control of helpless maidens.
While slim in content and execution, "The Princess" is too engaging or fun to ignore. Thriving on an exuberant sense of triumph, the film is a breezy summer distraction that sings like the swing of an unsheathed blade.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.