The final confrontation between Zuko and Azula is one of the most compelling moments of the original Avatar series. The final agni kai, fought in the tradition of the Fire Nation: just one on one, no holds barred, all fire and fury. It’s an incredible moment, and it’s incredible in this fan film, too.
Created by the YouTube channel Re:Anime and directed by Josh Mabie, this rendition of the epic clash between Zuko and Azula absolutely crackles with tension. Shot in live action, it’s thin on convincing special effects but full of choreography and emotion. It’s a rather faithful adaptation, using the same dialogue as the original, with a few custom touches here and there.
The choreography and the performances really make this. The fight, even with fairly limp fire effects, looks great because there’s real attention paid to convincing martial arts choreography, an emphasis on the physicality of firebending and several moments where the battle nearly devolves into a fist fight. Yoshi Sudarso (Koda from Power Rangers Dino Charge) does a convincing Zuko here, and Nikki Soohoo (Star Wars Resistance) as Azula is just the right valence of delightful and unstable. This is a far cry from the amateur acting of a lot of fan films, and I could honestly picture either of these actors playing these roles in the official Netflix Avatar adaptation.
Speaking of that adaptation, I was sceptical that Avatar could work compellingly in live action. But this fan film might just have changed my mind. Let me know if you agree.
Featured image: Re:Anime