Entertainment

6 Reasons To Be Excited About 'Raya And The Last Dragon'

The film premieres in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on March 5.

Disney
By BDG Studios

We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Branded team.

There’s a kickass new female warrior joining the Disney lineup — and we can’t wait to meet her.

Raya, star of Raya and the Last Dragon, lives in the kingdom of Kumandra. 500 years ago, Kumandra was a happy place where humans and dragons lived together peacefully — but in Raya’s day and age, things aren’t so tranquil anymore. Long ago, those dragons sacrificed themselves to save humans when evil monsters called Druun showed up. But now, the Druun are back, and it’s up to Rana to seek out the mythical last dragon and try to save humanity once again. (It’s a small task. A chore, really). And that’s not all: The people of Kumandra are divided and deeply suspicious of one another, so Raya doesn’t exactly have an army of like-minded allies to fight alongside her. She does, however, acquire a few spunky sidekicks along the way.

There’s so much to be excited about, from the Southeast Asian representation in the film and in the identities of the cast and filmmakers, to the soon-to-be-iconic new characters we’ll meet (including a tricky con artist… who is also a baby, and a dragon voiced by the one and only Awkwafina). Read on for all the reasons we can’t wait to press play on Raya and the Last Dragon this week.

Raya and the Last Dragon premieres in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on March 5. Sign up for Disney+ today!

Raya is another badass female warrior to add to your mood board.

In the tradition of Mulan and Moana, Raya is a bold, idealistic young woman who sets off on an adventure to save the people the loves. Is she prepared? Maybe not. Is she courageous? Absolutely. We can’t wait to see how Raya outsmarts and outmaneuvers the people — and monsters — who dare to stand in her way.

And her sidekick, Tuk Tuk, is adorable.

Part pill bug and part pug, Raya’s roly-poly partner in crime stays by her side in adulthood, just as he did when they were young and he fit into the palm of Raya’s hand. Of course, Tuk Tuk isn’t the only sidekick Raya will need on her journey: We’ll also meet the slick and streetwise Boun, and a baby (literally) con artist named Noi who travels with a trio of creatures called Ongis. (Noi really turns the whole “taking candy from a baby” thing on its head).

Southeast Asian representation mattersand Raya has it in spades.

In addition to its majority Asian-American voice cast (more on that in a minute), Raya and the Last Dragon was co-written by Vietnamese-American playwright Qui Nguyen and Malaysian-born screenwriter Adele Lim. In addition to infusing their own experiences and passions into the film, Nguyen and Lim researched other cultures and customs deeply to ensure that Raya feels authentic and celebratory to the countries it draws from. This kind of representation has been a long time coming — and we can’t wait to see the result of all this effort.

Kelly Marie Tran is Raya—and Awkwafina voices a dragon.

Our warrior heroine is voiced by the great Kelly Marie Tran, who you’ll know from her work in Star Wars. And Crazy Rich Asians standout Awkwafina lends her iconic, raspy voice to Sisu the dragon: a mythical, magical creature who’s more than a little self-deprecating, and maybe not as eager to help out as Raya had hoped. The rest of the cast features stellar Asian American acting talent, including Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, and Benedict Wong.

The imagined world of Kumandra was inspired by a variety of Southeast Asian sources.

The filmmakers studied the customs and cultures of Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, and more Southeast Asian countries — including their own — to give the film a respectful and authentic feel. For example, characters are doing real martial arts: Some are Pencak silat fighters, Muay Thai kickboxers, and more. And characters eat traditional Malaysian, Thai, and Vietnamese food that will make your mouth water— even though it’s animated. (This might be a film best watched with food.)

A new song by Jhené Aiko!

The pop star contributed a brand new song, “Lead The Way,” to the film. It’s light, airy, and uplifting — perfect for your morning wake-up playlist.

To make sure you don't miss Raya and tons of other amazing Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content, sign up for Disney+ today!

We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Branded team.