Joey King on her ‘tiring’ Oldboy-style stair fight in The Princess

The princess takes the worn-out trope of a wayward princess who wants out of an arranged marriage and pushes it to its fullest potential. As the titular unnamed princess, Joey King hacks and slashes his way through a tower full of adversaries. King is known for her rom-com trilogy The kissing booth, so this was definitely a new movie flavor for her. But she embraced it completely and wielded many of her own combat stunts; she tells Polygon she did about “85-90% of what you see in the movie”. That meant learning how to wield a sword, deal a blow, and get right back up after taking a shot.

“The harder it was, the more brutal it was, but the more rewarding it was in the end,” King says. “I did things I never thought I could do.”

The film is full of intense battle scenes with swords and fire, whips and ropes. Sometimes the princess fights alongside her enigmatic trainer, Linh (Veronica Ngo), and sometimes she faces her enemies alone. But of all the action sequences, one stands out for King: a stairway sequence in which the princess encounters enemy after enemy in a relentless attack. King compared it to the famous hallway fight scene from Park Chan-wook’s old boyespecially when it comes to the required stamina.

This sample video includes quite a few clips from the sequence, for reference.

“I think […] that was definitely the biggest undertaking of the entire movie,” says King. “It was the one that took the most preparation, the most time, the most training, it was one that no matter what choreography we were working on, we would always take some time on any given day to prepare for the stair sequence. That was like my old boy moment. It was so big, it was so huge. And so preparing that, and then actually filming it, was a beast. But I’m so glad I got to do it. Every detail was choreographed perfectly to where, when we all came in and did it, it was like this beautiful dance. It was exhausting.”

The princess is now streaming on Hulu and on Disney Plus in some non-US territories.

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