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Cinema in Focus: ‘Rising Son, The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi’

This documentary, two years old and now on DVD, tells of his rise and fall — and redemption.

3 Stars – Redemptive

The journey of Christian Hosoi is all too familiar. Described as the “most naturally gifted skateboarder in the world,” Christian experienced notoriety and wealth at a very young age. Lacking the maturity of a father who could protect him from the intoxication and temptations of such fame and opportunity, Christian soon found himself addicted and imprisoned. It is there that the power of the addiction met the “higher power” of God’s redemption. Rising Son is the documentary of his legendary life, directed and produced by Cecsario Monaño.

Narrated by Dennis Hopper, Monaño blends firsthand reports with the varying qualities of video recording the rising son of the sport of professional skateboarding. The son of a Hawaiian father and an anglo mother, Hosoi began skating before he was a teenager. His father, Ivan, was an artist whose hang-loose philosophy of life not only failed to provide guidance for Hosoi when he decided to drop out of school and skate full time, but his father acted more as a buddy than a father. Introducing him in his early years to marijuana, his father also joined Hosoi in addictions to methamphetamine and speed, which sent Hosoi to prison.

The film is a creative blend of the rise and fall of “Christ,” as Christian called himself within the professional skaters’ circle. The early years are described by such noted skaters and creators as Tony Alva and Tony Hawk. We watch as the Hosoi-Hawk competitions dominate the sport when both are still in their teens. We hear the shifts as the sport goes from the vertical ramps to the street tricks. We see the genius of Hosoi as he not only skates with style but turns his style into a lucrative board, clothing and exhibition empire. We see the temptations and the degradations as skaters describe what happened to themselves and to Christian as they partied through their early adult years.

The redemptive moment comes when Hosoi, for the first time in his life, opens a Bible and reads it for himself. Having been sentenced to prison for more than 10 years for possession of a pound of meth at the Honolulu airport, the federal prison system shocked him into taking a look at himself and what had happened to his life. In that moment, a transferring prisoner generously gives Hosoi his own, marked-up Bible with his own notes and spiritual struggle, and Christian accepts Christ into his life. This higher power was able to set him free.

The genuine descriptions with all the vulgarity of such a lifestyle allows this story to be told with authenticity. It is a story that is familiar but with a redemptive end that is far less explained. Hosoi is now an associate pastor of a Huntington Beach church, where he tells his story and skates in exhibitions around the world for Christ.

Discussion:

» If you had been given wealth and fame as a teenager, what do you think would have happened to you? Would your parents have helped protect you, or would they have just let you do whatever your desires dictated? Would you have listened to your parents if they had tried to put limits on you?

» The skateboard culture has had a big impact on our society. Do you believe this has been for good or for ill?

» One of the most disappointing aspects of the story is the young ages at which these skaters were caught up in the club scene. Where do you think their parents were? Where were the owners of these clubs that allow these underage celebrities to participate?

Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara, and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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