Frank Lee arrived in Canada in 1960. He was Grandmaster White Crane Kung Fu who devised his own style for contact fighting. As a boy in Hong Kong, he grew up on the streets where he saw a lot of violence firsthand — mostly shootings and stabbings. It was a normal sight. However when he moved to Canada he was ready to leave all of that behind and forget what his life had been like in the ghetto.
He worked at the Phoenix Café in Alberta in the early 1960s. His job was waiting tables and helping in the kitchen for 12 hours. Fights used to break out and often he would have to get rid of rowdy patrons. Soon people would come to the restaurant only to watch him fight and more than a few would deliberately start up arguments to try to get him to fight them.
When martial arts became popular in the 1970s thanks to Bruce Lee, Frank was thrust into the spotlight. He became some sort of super hero who could throw a watermelon into the air and then smash it with his fingertips and break coconuts open with the palm of his hands
His son, Corey, never really knew him as a father; he knew him as the legend. When Corey was 8 years old, Billy Chow moved in with the Lee family and starting training with Frank to become a world champion. This renewed Corey’s interest in martial arts. Not because he wanted to become a professional fighter, but because he wanted to spend as much time with his dad as Billy did.
In the early 80s Frank Lee spent most of his time in Thailand and Hong Kong training Billy and managing his fighting career. As Billy kept winning, movie producers started taking notice. They promised him an acting career, but only if Frank and Billy remained in Asia. As a result, Frank missed out on watching his son and daughter grow up and became strangers to them.
And so after having his own family Corey saw the importance of teaching his children about his Chinese culture and history. In order to do that, Corey Lee embarked on a journey to reconnect with his dad.
He had always seen his dad through the eyes of others. It was time to see him through his own eyes. In order to do that, Corey ventured into his father’s world. Despite being distant for years, Frank Lee agreed to train him. Corey’s journey might have been one of reconnection but in a sense he was also trying to prove himself worthy of being the Legend’s only son.
As they trained together, Corey saw a side of his father that he had never seen before. The men and women who trained with him spoke openly about the duality of his personality: the tough side who loves to fight and the soft side who wishes he had done things differently.