'Raya and the Last Dragon' features 1st Southeast Asian princess

BySandy Kenyon via WABC logo
Friday, March 5, 2021
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From the folks who brought you "Moana" and "Frozen" comes "Raya and the Last Dragon," a new animated film that's not as musical as those movies but is equally charming and engaging.

From the folks who brought you "Moana" and "Frozen" comes a new animated film that's not as musical as those movies but is equally charming and engaging, if not more so.

"Raya and the Last Dragon" is a fable set in a fictional land of Kumandra, with a predominately Asian American cast.

Kelly Marie Tran makes history by lending her voice to Raya in the first Disney movie to feature a Southeast Asian princess.

"It's such a cool thing to be able to celebrate the being the first of something," she said. "But I kind of also consider it part of my responsibility to make sure it's not the last."

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Awkwafina plays opposite her as the "Last Dragon," named Sisu, who can also morph into human form.

"Watching it, I felt like a kid again," she said. "I felt like I wasn't in it. I feel like I didn't know what was going to happen, and I did."

Together, Raya and Sisu must fight off evil spirits known as the Druun while gathering pieces of a magical orb to make it whole again and unite her people.

Trust, and how to gain it and keep it, is a key theme here, and those who made the movie had to trust each other as they labored in the middle of a pandemic with everyone working remotely.

"At one point, there were 450 people working from 450 different locations, and that's pretty incredible," Tran said. "It's a pretty incredible feat, so I'm really, really proud of the ability of everyone to come together and make this incredible thing."

RELATED | Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina talk working remotely on film

Awkwafina said she took advantage of working remotely.

"I think the best part that you just roll up, right out of bed, you can only see waist up," she said. "You don't know what's going on down under, which is very enjoyable, so yeah that's a cool part."

But it also came with a downside when it comes to the usual movie making experience.

"You miss the camaraderie," she said. "Especially within the filmmaking process."

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"Raya and the Last Dragon" is streaming on Disney+ Premier Access, and it is also opening in select theaters. It is from Walt Disney Pictures, owned by the same parent company as this ABC station.