On the one hand, European history depicted them as demonic beings and stylized those who killed them as heroes. On the other hand, a Chinese philosopher described them as a hybrid of a lion, horse, fish, and eagle, animals which stand for many positive qualities. Thus, these magical creatures are revered in Asia to this day: the dragons. However, in the latest Disney adventure, evil demons petrified all dragons and humans. To save the world, two completely different characters befriend each other and go on an adventurous journey together: Raya and the Last Dragon.
THE BRIEF STORY OF RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON
Long ago, in the wonderful world of Kumandra, humans, and dragons lived together in complete harmony. Until dark monsters, the so-called Druun, threatened the land and turned everyone they touched to stone.
To help the people, the dragons bundled their magical powers in a jewel that they entrusted to the naive Sisu before they were petrified by the power of the Druun.
But with the help of the jewel, Sisu managed to save the people. Her siblings, however, remained petrified. And Sisu fell into a long sleep after her heroic deed.
As humans are, they fought for the dragon jewel for centuries. But the rulers of Kumandra protect the jewel. The youngest guardian is the bright Raya. But she trusts the wrong people and so the jewel breaks into many pieces.
So now, 500 years after Sisu’s victory over the Druun, the evil demons are once again threatening the magical world of Kumandra. Therefore, in order to save the world, the help of the wonderful dragon is urgently needed again. But where is Sisu?
RAYA AND THE HEART LAND
RAYA (Kelly Marie Tran, known from Star Wars “The Last Jedi”) is a very proud warrior even as a little girl.
No wonder her father Benja is the ruler of the Heart Land of Kumandra. This is where the dragon jewel that Sisu left after the fight against the Druun is kept.
Raya trains hard to become a good guardian of the Dragon Gem. But when the crystal breaks unexpectedly, this becomes the task of her life. Because now the Druun are free again and strive to finish what they started 500 years ago.
So, Raya, whose humor is just as sharp as her sword, goes on the hunt for the pieces of the broken dragon jewel. However, she cannot do it alone. Therefore, she goes in search of the last dragon, the legendary Sisu.
Sisu is the short form of Sisudatu. After her siblings sacrificed themselves to save the people, Sisu is the last dragon of Kumandra. According to legend, she is a divine aquatic being of incredible beauty and invincible magical powers.
In reality, Raya instead finds a funny and reckless dragon who makes fun of herself and doesn’t take things seriously.
Sisu describes herself as a student who gets a good grade in group work but without having done much for it.
But now she has to learn to become the dragon from the legend to save the world together with Raya.
BENJA – RULER OF KUMANDRA
Benja (English original voice: Daniel Dae Kim) is known as the “evil blade of the five countries”. In truth, Benja is a kind-hearted person and Raya’s beloved father. As ruler of Heart Land, he is also the legendary guardian of the dragon jewel.
He is also an idealistic and courageous visionary who believes that Kumandra fell apart because people in different countries do not dare to walk. Therefore, he holds a big festival to reunite the countries. Too bad that that’s not everyone’s goal.
Tuk Tuk (Alan Tudyk) has been Raya’s best friend ever since she was able to put him on the palm of her hand in childhood. In the meantime, they have both grown and the brave warrior trusts only him.
Tuk Tuk is partly a pill-turner bug, partly a pug. For Raya, it is also a high-speed off-road vehicle that can master any terrain. Together they race through Kumandra at unbelievable speed to save the world together with Sisu.
NAMAARI – THE PRINCESS OF THE FANG LAND
Namaari (English original voice: Gemma Chan) is a brilliant, calculating, formidable fighter and the relentless archenemy of Raya. She is the daughter of the ruler of Fang. Namaari will stop at nothing to protect their people. But deep down inside her, her heart beats for dragons.
VIRANA – THE RULER OF FANG
Virana (English original voice: Sandra Oh) is the cool and calculating ruler of Fang and the mother of Raya’s archenemy Namaari. She leads her people with her ruthless pragmatism. She is a strong, brilliant, and unsentimental leader who doesn’t believe in old myths. Virana believes that only a tough crackdown can ensure the survival of her people.
TONG FROM THE SPINE LAND
Tong (English original voice: Benedict Wong) is a lonely forest worker, behind whose huge, rugged, and violent facade a heart beats for the little ones. A gentle, formidable giant that is hard and soft in equal parts.
BOUN FROM THE LAND OF TAIL
Boun (English original voice: Izaac Wang) is a precocious street kid from Tail. He is an adult in a child’s body. Boun is also open to everything, smart and self-confident. He is the self-proclaimed “owner, manager, chef, and captain” of his boat, the Shrimporium.
But deep down he is a vulnerable child who lost his parents to the Druun.
LITTLE NOI FROM THE LAND OF TALON
Noi (Thalia Tran) also lost her family to the Druun. Since then, the two-year-old has been raised by the Ongis Dyan, Pan, and Uka.
With this hybrid of monkeys and catfish, she is part of a gang of fraudsters who are up to mischief in the port of Talon. Their job is to distract passers-by with their cuteness, while the Ongis rip them off.
The Druun are ethereal, amorphous, and destructive spirits that arose from human conflict. With a single touch, they can turn a person into stone or multiply at will. Water stops the Druun, but they can only be defeated with the power of a dragon.
The film is set in a fantasy land called Kumandra. This world was inspired by the Southeast Asian cultures of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The film presents and characterizes the locations in a special way.
The Druun are of course symbolic of the endangerment of our beautiful world, which is endangered by blind pollution, greed, disrespect, and much more.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON – TRUST, LOVE AND BELIEVE
Raya and the Last Dragon is all about trust. After Raya’s trust was betrayed as a teenager, resulting in a terrible disaster, she no longer trusts anyone.
The pretty warrior would rather go hungry and fight alone than accept soup or help from strangers. But through Sisu, Raya must learn how important trust is and that only friends can save the world together.
DISNEY & THE FILM MAKERS
Raya and the Last Dragon was created and produced by the makers of MOANA and Peter Del Vecho, the producer of Frozen I and II, with whom we had an exciting interview last year.
Therefore, you can be sure that the film will get under your skin. As always, Disney knows how to touch the heart – and the lacrimal glands – in a brilliant way.
From the first second, you will take Raya and Tuk Tuk to your heart. Just like the wonderful Sisu, who in her heartwarming naïveté will remind you of the cheeky and lovable Pippi Longstocking.
Sisu stands for the beautiful and the good, for the purity. The dragon shows especially that it is normal for humans and dragons to make mistakes.
Sisu is certain that even if unconditional trust is abused and this can have dire consequences, the world can only be changed for the better through openness, trust, and friendship.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON – RESUME
Raya and the Last Dragon is sweet as candy. The film touches the heart from the first second. After Frozen II and Moana, Peter Del Vecho and the production team put a heroine in the focus of an adventurous, heroic story that is second to none.
Or rather two heroines, because alongside Raya, Sisu naturally plays a decisive role.
Especially in a time of social distance, the positive message of Raya and the last Dragon is incredibly good. The story of trust and friendship connects us. It touches heart and soul.
It also shows that division and demarcation are not a means of strengthening yourself or a country in the long term. Even the strongest need friends and good partners.
With impressive images, Raya and the Last Dragon shows that we are all at stake. Moreover, the film shows that the individual is lost if he does not trust the other.
With this typical Disney message, the film year 2021 starts with a real blockbuster on Disney + VIP.
Let’s hope that we can also marvel at Raya and the Last Dragon on the big screen because it is planned to bring this wonderful Disney film to the cinema as soon as the movie theaters are allowed to reopen.
Until then, it is now available on Disney + VIP for all impatient fans and from June on Disney + for everyone.
However, always keep your heart and mind open for your magical dragon, who takes you by the hand and gives you the power to change the world. The VALEUR Ranking: 9 STARS!
Text: Marco Kokkot
Assistance: Amy May Ellis
Pictures: © Disney