In Korean director Jae-young Kwak’s follow up to his hugely entertaining film ‘Cyborg Girl’, ‘My Mighty Princess’, we meet So-hwi (Min-a Shin), just your average, awkward teenaged college freshman, outside of the fact that she’s a high flying mistress of Kung Fu mastery. She performs in school plays, goes out drinking with friends and has big old crush on a cute boy. A real big crush. A crush so big that this boy, Jun-mo as played actor Geon-yu who looks like an Asian version of American actor James Franco, probably would have a restraining order slapped on this girl were this movie taking place on this side of the Pacific.
Jun-mo, as a stud hockey player for this university, wants little to nothing to do with the silly girl with the deep dimples and the pouty lips, because he has a deep longing for this much older police officer for reasons that will be made somewhat clearer as the movie plays on.
Then there’s So-hwi’s old man Kap-seong (Jae-sung Choi), a kung fu master in his own right who is none too pleased that his baby girl has discarded her training and is instead using her skills for silly school plays. Particularly since So-hwi, the prodigy, was on her way to becoming the best of the best, especially once she learned her late mother’s supremely awesome Lightning Stroke sword technique. Further complicating So-hwi’s life is that a childhood friend, the extremely obnoxious Il-young (Ju-wan On) has reappeared, also a young master who has allowed his training to slide, and is urging So-hwi to join him in picking up their training so they can achieve the greatness that was meant for them.
The problem, as it has presented itself, is that an old foe in Heuk-bong (Ho-bin Jeong) has returned to torment So-hwi’s father and his three Kung Fu Master buddies with his goal being to conquer and command the Martial Arts world. Worst is that this fiend has stolen the cherished sword known as the Green Destiny, and when combined with this cat’s lethal Moon Stroke, it’s not looking good for our four masters.
Of course there is only one person who can challenge Heuk-bong’s dominance, this being So-hwi, who has her hand forced to learn her mother’s techniques and challenge the man who would do her and hers wrong. But as it turns out putting Heuk-bong down will be far more difficult, on a personal level, than she ever imagined.
With ‘My Mighty Princess’ director Kwak has given us film that is one part thrilling, high flying, wire fu possessing martial arts action, one part melodrama, and three parts inane silliness. Truly one of the sillier movies that one would ever want to see and I think we can all thank Stephen Chow for this newly created genre, which has turned into a glut of silly martial arts action / sports films. The problem seems to be that Stephen Chow is the only person who really knows how to effectively pull this type of movie off. I think about Shaolin Girl which was a comedic mix of Kung-Fu and lacrosse… which was awful… or Kung Fu Dunk obviously a mix of Kung Fu and basketball… which was even worse. At least ‘My Mighty Princess’ a mix of Kung-Fu and Hockey… sort of… wasn’t nearly as bad as those films and was ultimately entertaining truth be told, but you really have to trudge through an awful lot of nonsense to get this entertainment.
The problem as I see with this movie is that the director appears to be having trouble reconciling his dark side, which seems to be his nature, with his bright side which, at least in this movie, was wildly over the top. Ju-wan On’s Il-young character was obnoxious to distraction and Min-a Shin’s bubbly attempts at comedy didn’t really work all that well. Considering these two characters dominate this film, and they dominate the majority of this movie largely with buffoonery, presents us with a problem unless one enjoys forced buffoonery. But to both of these actors benefit, when things got serious, then this movie became infinitely better because both of these actors do drama very well and it also plays into what this director, at least judging from the movies of his that I have seen, also does very well.
Not all of the silliness was a complete bust however. Watching the four masters do battle against hordes of baseball bat wielding thugs in a Kung-Fu Hustle-eque fight sequence was plenty silly but fun to watch, and there were some comedic bits that worked a little bit but there just weren’t enough of them.
But the wire-fu action, special effects and the sudden dramatic turns in ‘My Mighty Princess’ did make it worth while to sit through and slightly tipped the scales from the inane comedy we were subjected to. Still a little of a disappointment from Jae-young Kwak considering the overall excellence that we saw with 'Cyborg Girl'.