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[whitespace] In God's Hands
Gillian Lefkowitz

Hang-10 Hunks: Keoni (Matty Liu, left), Shane (Patrick Shane Dorian) and Mickey (Matt George) get ready to ride the waves of Bali.

The sport exceeds the story in surfing 'God's Hands'

By Richard von Busack

THE NEW surfing film In God's Hands features some handsomely photographed wave-riding scenes in Hawaii, Bali and elsewhere, including a few seldom-filmed newer innovations: such as the use of jet skis to tow surfers out before the curl of 100-foot-high waves at the beach called Jaws in Hawaii. Unfortunately, you have to pay dearly for this footage by being forced to listen to much speculation about the transcendental nature of surfing; In God's Hands is so pretentious it makes Big Wednesday look like Beach Blanket Bingo.

The fictional story tells of buddies Shane (Patrick Shane Dorian), Mickey (Matt George) and Keoni (Matty Liu) on their round-the-world surfing tour. Mickey confronts the angst of being an old man in the sport (he's in his mid-30s), and Keoni is knocked flat by a fever that almost kills him. That's about it for the plot. Maybe the problem was the need to make the adrenaline-rich world of surfing look like something that the participants have to fret over. Moreover, none of the real problems facing surfers--crowding, lack of money, pollution--are addressed, because the filmmakers want to keep matters mystical and vague.

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Richard von Busack inteviews surf stars
Matt George and Matty Liu.

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Strangely enough, when you see interviews with surfers discussing the technical approach to the sport--the triangulation of waves, the concerns over timing--the film becomes interesting again. In God's Hands is directed by Zalman King, who co-wrote 9 1/2 Weeks and much, much worse films. King's trademark soft-core porn is missing here, but the cheap surrealism and the absence of any female characters worth talking about are typical of all of King's work.


In God's Hands (PG-13; 92 min.), directed by Zalman King, written by Matt George and Zalman King, photographed by John Aronson and starring Patrick Shane Dorian, Matt George and Matty Liu.

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From the May 7-13, 1998 issue of Metro.

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