Raya and the Last Dragon is now in theaters where available and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access and while the film is drawing critical praise for a number of elements -- including story, performances, and animation -- one of the things that has impressed audiences and critics is the film's realism. The first Disney animated film to center around Southeast Asian culture, there are a lot of details in the film that are authentic to the region including the martial arts depicted in its fight scenes. Now, Raya and the Last Dragon writer Qui Nguyen explains how important it was to get those martial arts right.
"I mean, when it comes to just the martial arts themselves, it was really important that it was the martial arts that come from the region," Nguyen recently told ComicBook.com. "And being a martial artist myself, it was very important that we highlighted Muay Thai, interject a lot of Arnis and traditional Vietnamese wrestling, to be able to do all those things. But without a doubt, when you're doing animation, you can get really brutal. Because unlike a live set, you're not allowed to actually hit an actor, but when they're animated, you can actually hit someone in the face."
Of course, some of the realism did require them to step back a bit as they wanted to keep the film family-appropriate.
"And there were some early tests that we did, where that's what we did," Nguyen continued. "And we're like, 'Oh, okay. You know what? Let's not treat this like live-action. Let's shoot this like live action.' Because those moments of contact hurt in a way that I had never seen in live-action movies before, but it is one of those tools that you have to know how to walk the line. I think Don and Carlos did a beautiful job in keeping it feeling like an amazing real action movie, but without crossing lines and making it an inappropriate movie for families."
You can check out the official synopsis for Raya and the Last Dragon below.
"Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where Raya, a lone warrior, must track down the legendary last dragon to stop an evil force that has returned after 500 years to once again threaten her homeworld. The film features an outstanding voice cast, including Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Jona Xiao, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk, Gordon Ip, Dichen Lachman, Patti Harrison, Jon “Dumbfoundead” Park, Sung Kang, Sierra Katow, Ross Butler, François Chau, and Paul Yen. Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada are directing, with Paul Briggs and John Ripa co-directing. Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho are the producers, and Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim wrote the screenplay. "
Raya and the Last Dragon is in theaters (where available) now as well as streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access.