Canadian filmmaker Corey Lee points his camera at his family and himself with this feature-length documentary on a belated exercise in father-son bonding. Lee is the son of Frank Lee, a prominent Chinese-born martial arts coach who became famous for his mastery of white crane kung fu. In the early 1980s, the elder Lee left his wife and son and went to Hong Kong to work as the coach/manager to martial arts champion Billy Chau.
For this film, the fortysomething Corey Lee temporarily leaves his wife and young sons to train at his father’s martial arts center – a setting where the elder Lee appears to give his young fighters a level of paternal support that Corey supposedly did not experience while growing up. Corey also seeks out a greater understanding of his father’s Chinese heritage – Corey’s mother is white and his knowledge of his Asian roots is somewhat limited due to his father’s absence from sections of his life.
Unfortunately, “Legend of a Warrior” becomes another example of a growing genre where attention-hungry nonfiction filmmakers use their medium for healing wounds with their family members. Corey Lee clearly enjoys being on camera – to the point that the film often seems to be a vehicle designed to call attention to his athletic prowess. As for Frank Lee, he seems to be patient and cordial with his son’s activities – a true feat of strength in this tiresome home movie.