Movies & TV

Disney Princess Whips Out Badass Filipino Arnis Skills in First Trailer of Raya and the Last Dragon

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The teaser trailer of Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess is here, and she might be the most badass princess of all. Raya and the Last Dragon follows the fearless warrior Raya as she tries to save her world by finding the last dragon that could reunite her people.


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As in most Disney animated films, expect a lot of magic and humor. But also a heck of a lot of fighting. The teaser trailer opens with Raya entering a cave, which leads to a brilliant fight that features Arnis sticks. That’s right—the national martial art of the Philippines is getting the spotlight in a Disney princess film.

By all accounts, Raya is no damsel in distress. The trailer is accompanied by a kickass soundtrack that promises some epic fight scenes. We can’t wait to see what other Asian martial arts will be featured in the film as Raya’s world is based on many Southeast Asian cultures.

It would make sense for the first Southeast Asian Disney princess to be a warrior as most Southeast Asian cultures are deeply rooted in ancient tribal cultures and warrior castes.


Like other Disney characters, Raya is accompanied by a trusty animal. As Mulan had Mushu the dragon and Moana had Pua the pig, Raya has Tuktuk, a pangolin ("Tuktuk" is actually the Thai word for a trike). Some publications have called it an armadillo, of which there are none in Southeast Asia, so we’re betting that this little guy is actually a pangolin, the most trafficked mammal in the world. It’s been driven to near extinction because of hunters who are eager to sell its scales and meat on the black market. Featuring this little guy in a huge film will hopefully do wonders for conservation efforts.

But not everyone is stoked with the new trailer.

There has been some criticism that Raya and the Last Dragon looks a lot like Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two hugely popular Nickelodeon shows that champion Asian cultures and social issues. There’s also the question of Raya’s synopsis, which sounds similar to the opening narration of Avatar.

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Twitter is abuzz with debates, but all we can say is that perhaps it’s a hat tip to Avatar and Korra’s influence and their success in representing Asian cultures to the world.

Besides, isn’t saving the world the center of almost every Asian legend? We do love our warriors.


Filipino Culture Inspired This Disney Fantasy Film

The Disney Veteran Behind Tarzan and Pocahontas Takes On an Asian Fairy Tale About the Moon

Raya and the Last Dragon is set to be released in March 2021.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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