Once upon a time, in a pseudo-Medieval kingdom, a strong-willed princess (Joey King) wakes up - in manacles - in the highest tower of her father's castle, on the eve of her arranged marriage to the wicked Lord Julius (Agent Carter's Dominic Cooper).
Railing against the 'open borders policy' of the king (Ed Stoppard), Julius had perceived weakness in the royal family, which was lacking a male heir, and so sought to legitimise his own desire to take the throne by marrying the king's eldest daughter.
She, however, had other ideas and walked out of their engagement party without taking the proffered ring.
In the aftermath of this, the forces of Lord Julius took control of the castle, and locked the princess up in the tower to curb any ideas of escape before her enforced nuptials.
Only the princess isn't having any of this, escapes her bondage, and proceeds to fight her way down the tower, team-up with her mentor Linh (
In the manner of The Raid and Mad Max: Fury Road, director Le-Van Kiet's The Princess is essentially one long fight sequence from beginning to end, with breathers for expositional flashbacks and moments of character development.
And it's fantastic.
Joey King makes a great action star, her princess is a skilled martial artist without being superhuman, alternating between battling a variety of foes (muscular barbarians, trained thugs, hordes of goons etc), performing acrobatic stunts, and racing through the castle's secret passageways in proper Dungeons & Dragons style.
Sure, she gets injured and beaten up along the way, but you can almost see the warrior-princess levelling up as she progresses on her quest, learning her enemy's weaknesses, picking up new tricks etc
A lethal "escape room" challenge, Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton's script is elegantly linear and streamlined, leaving the action set-pieces to do most of the talking for the film's tight 95-minute run time.
Beyond its clear feminist message, which it proclaims proudly from the get-go, The Princess is a fast-paced, all-action - and occasionally quite brutal - adventure yarn that rewrites a number of fairy tale clichés and old fashioned assumptions in a slick, kickass fashion.
With no perceived aspirations beyond this, the film is a stylishly crafted, fun and thrill-packed way to spend an hour and a half.
- The Princess is available to stream on Disney Plus, the UK, from today.