Joey King on her ‘exhausting’ Oldboy-style staircase fight in The Princess


The Princess takes the well-worn trope of a headstrong princess who wants out of an arranged marriage and sees it through to its fullest potential. As the titular nameless princess, Joey King hacks and slashes her way down a tower packed with adversaries. King is known for her rom-com trilogy The Kissing Booth, so this was definitely a new flavor of movie for her. But she fully embraced it, handling a lot 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, throw a punch, and get right back up after taking a hit.

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

The movie is full of intense fight sequences involving 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 out of all the action sequences, one stands out to King: a staircase sequence where the princess faces enemy after enemy in a relentless onslaught. King compared it to the famous hallway fight scene from Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, especially when it comes to the endurance required.

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

“I think […] that was definitely the biggest undertaking of the whole movie,” King recounts. “It was the one that took the most prep, the most time, the most training, it was one that no matter what choreography we’re working on, on any given day, we would always take some time to prep for the staircase sequence. That was like my Oldboy moment. It was so big, it was so massive. And so preparing for that, and then actually being able to film it, was a beast. But I am so thrilled that I got to do it. Every detail was choreographed perfectly to where, when we all got in there 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-U.S. territories.

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