A filmmaker does combat with his daddy issues. Literally.
DIRECTED BY COREY LEE (Canada, Canadian Spectrum)
Monday, April 30, 9:15 p.m.
Cumberland 2 (159 Cumberland Street)
Thursday, May 3, 1:30 p.m.
ROM Theatre (100 Bloor Street West)
Friday, May 4, 4 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Calgary filmmaker Corey Lee bares his daddy issues to all the world in Legend of a Warrior, which documents his concerted bid to mend his distant relationship with his martial artist father. Now the owner of an Edmonton fight gym, kung fu Grandmaster Frank Lee spent much of Corey’s childhood traveling between Alberta and his native Asia, where he managed the career of former Hong Kong action star and kickboxing world champion Billy Chau. Corey ‘fesses up to feeling displaced by Billy, and laments that he’s more familiar with his father’s legend than the man himself.
Kissing his own tots goodbye, the director begins an intensive regime at his dad’s gym, hoping that some father-son sparring will break through Frank’s façade. Still a spry whirlwind of White Crane maneuvers at the age of 70, the elder Lee is a compelling screen presence, but is initially hesitant to lower his guard. Only when the two men venture to Frank’s childhood Hong Kong stomping grounds does the Sifu’s sensitive side emerge.
If Legend of a Warrior does, at times, feel like an elaborate self-help exercise, it achieves wider resonance in its exploration of the Chinese-Canadian cultural experience. Indeed, second generation Canadians of all ethnicities may recognize something of their own fathers in Frank, whose efforts to secure his family’s financial wellbeing exacted a significant emotional cost.