Tag Archives: The Princess Warrior

Little Sister, Don’t You

The Princess Warrior

by Rachel Willis

When an ancient text is stolen, it sets off a war between kingdoms in director Bassanjargai Sambuu’s The Princess Warrior (previously titled Princess Khutulun)

The text is the Golden Sutra, an item passed down directly to the descendants of Genghis Khan, the most powerful family in Mongolia. During an ambush, an assassination party sent by a khan from another kingdom grievously wounds the king, setting off a chain of events that upends the ruling order.

The princess warrior is the king’s only daughter, Princess Khutulun (Tsedoo Munkhbat). Though chided from childhood that women are to be meek, to learn needlework not archery, she has nonetheless trained alongside her 13 brothers. During a council with those brothers, she refuses to obey her oldest and sets off with a clan of loyal followers to retrieve the Golden Sutra.

The film is lush with rich sets and costuming that bring the world of the Mongolian empire to life. Based on both a novel and historical facts, the film does a marvelous job of bringing Princess Khutulun to life. Some of the ancillary characters are more fleshed out than others, as the film’s short run time doesn’t allow for much depth in any character beyond Khutulun.

There is also cultural history that might be unknown to American viewers, but enough is conveyed through conversation that anyone should be able to glean the basics of this feudal society. In a world that was once ruled by kings and lords, it’s not surprising that wars of leadership raged in Mongolia much as they did in Europe.

Munkhbat gives a wonderful performance as the Princess Warrior. She is adept at bringing a range of emotion to a character that yearns to choose her own path in a patriarchal society. She likens herself to a sheep, but longs to be a wolf.

Though not everyone is able to bring the same skill to their roles, most of it can be overlooked considering the story, which is intriguing enough to please most viewers. The film understands its strengths and embraces them, while smoothing over the rougher elements.

The battle choreography is enjoyable, and the fights come fast and furious after the initial set up. There is intrigue, betrayal, and a woman warrior who cements it all in an absorbing character.