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film review

Basketball star Jeremy Lin in a scene from the documentary Linsanity.

Sports documentary Linsanity follows the career of NBA point guard Jeremy Lin – born in Los Angeles to Taiwanese parents – who came off the bench as an unknown in February, 2012, to lead the struggling New York Knicks to the NBA playoffs.

Along the way, he became an international symbol of Asian-American progress and hero to underdogs everywhere. With plenty of archival footage from his childhood games and a couple of jaw-dropping clips from his sizzling month in 2012, Linsanity offers lots for b-ball fans, but also has a higher purpose.

Filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong, who began following Lin when he played for Harvard, also emphasizes the importance of Lin's tight bonds with his family and the importance of his evangelical Christianity ("I only play for God," Lin says).

Setbacks, including a broken ankle and Lin's struggle to be taken seriously as an Asian-American player, are seen as a reminder to keep his cockiness in check. Success happens, with an almost out-of-body creative freedom, when he remembers his higher purpose. "This is how weird I am," explains Lin.

Incited by reporters to offer some retaliatory trash talk to Kobe Bryant after Lin ran up 38 points against the Lakers, Lin says he was sorely tempted. But instead of taking the easy layup, he asked himself, "What would Jesus do?," and demurred.