Disney’s latest animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon, will be released in a few weeks in theaters where it is available and on Disney+ Premier Access. So audiences will get a chance to see the studio’s first film inspired by Southeast Asian culture. The story, written by Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen, was inspired by much more than any one culture or mythology to create Kumandra’s fantasy world. But even though Raya and the final dragon come from different cultures in Southeast Asia, for Lim, strong female characters were the inspiration for the film.

At a recent press event, Lim said his personal inspiration came from his own childhood in Southeast Asia, as well as female characters in kung fu movies and female leaders and warriors in Southeast Asia.

Growing up in Southeast Asia, I watched a lot of kung fu action movies that were more Hong Kong, but the spirit of the female characters stayed with me for a long time, because whether it’s a love interest or a mean girl, they can always kick your ass, Lim said. And I love that idea. In Southeast Asia, we also have a tradition that we continue to this day that women are more powerful. We have great leaders, there were great warriors, and I wanted Raya to be a character like that too, and the other part of him, growing up, saw these powerful women, but again, when I say powerful, they’re also like flaws, and they’re also like sneaky, and you see different aspects of that. It’s not just a monolithic warrior prototype.

Directed by Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada with Paul Briggs and John Ripa as co-directors, based on a script by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, Raya and the Last Dragon, starred Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina alongside Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaak Wang, Talia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Sun, Patti Harrison and Ross Butler.

You can check out the official resume of Raya and the Last Dragon below!

Raya and the Last Dragon takes us on an epic and fascinating journey to the fantastic world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons have long lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened Earth, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned, and it is up to the lone warrior Rai to hunt down the legendary Last Dragon to restore the devastated land and its divided people. However, during her journey she learns that it takes more than a dragon to save the world, it takes trust and teamwork.

Raya and the last dragon comes out on the 5th. Walk around the cinema and on Disney+. If you haven’t signed up for Disney+ yet, try here.

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frequently asked questions

What is Raya and the last dragon based on?

Set in the imaginary land of Kumandra, which Disney says was inspired by Southeast Asian cultures, the story follows the quest of the eponymous heroine who goes in search of the legendary dragon Sisu to rebuild a world in ruins.

Where is Raya?

Raya (pronounced RYE-ah) is located in a fantastic land called Kumandra, a mixture of peoples and cultures in Southeast Asia. The current region includes a dozen countries, including parts of India and the South Pacific, with hundreds of miles, languages, cultures and islands in between.

Are Raya and the Last Dragon a princess?

Raya, with Kelly Marie Tran’s beautiful voice and expertly nuanced emotions, is a Disney princess, technically speaking : She is the daughter of Chief Benji (voice of Daniel Dae Kim) in a country called Heart.

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