Sumo Do, Sumo Don't (1992)

Masahiro Motoki, Misa Shimizu, Naoto Takenaka, Akira Emoto,
Chronicling the turmoil and pandemonium that ensues at a derelict university sumo club, and the rise of some unlikely heroes.
  • 7.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Masayuki Suo, Director:
  • Shôji Masui, Producer:

All subtitles:



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10 / 10

Great Fun for the Whole Family!!!

Shiko Funjatta is a funny, smart, and endearing look at a diverse group of college kids who transform from half-hearted sumo novices (it's college sumo so weight classes keep the wrestlers "normal" sized, as opposed to professional sumo giants) into gung-ho participants who have the time of their lives. Think Bad News Bears, but for adults - though kids love it as well.

This movie, now a classic in Japan, won Best Movie as well as well as Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director. With this film (budgeted slightly under $1 million U.S.) Director and Writer Masayuki Suo established himself as the premier Japanese movie maker, breathing life into an industry that has been reduced to violence and skin flicks for far too long. After his successful follow-up with the larger budgeted Shall We Dansu? (1996), Suo is on his way to world-wide acclaim and success.

6 / 10

Not just for sumo addicts

It's not just for Sumo addicts but knowing about it adds adds to the enjoyment. Similar charming films have been made with sports as the focus which in reality have little to do with sports.

There are a great number of films which use this ploy. I recall a track and field (now known as athletics) film from the seventies that explored race relations. An excellent film 'The Harder They Fall' about boxing dealt with crime and the exploitation of fighters. Clint Eastwood's 'Million Dollar Baby' offering was about relationships. 'Men with Brooms was not just about curling'.

So, this is less about Sumo than about traditional values and the Japanese perspective of traditional values. It's a real peek into the Japanese mind, and it's told with a touch of humour. (You get to learn a bit about the great sport of Sumo, too!)

7 / 10

A rollicking comedy with ridiculous amounts of side pube

We begin in a Tokyo University classroom and the professor is reading from Jean Cocteau's memoir of a sumo tournament. We then meet our hero Shuhei, who is played by a young Masahiro Motoki who I recently watched in the Netflix show Giri/Haji, which I would heartily recommend except for the garbage ending. Shuhei is tricked by his teacher into joining the sumo club and our adventure begins in much the same fashion it did in Summer School, Revenge of the Nerds, or dozens of other 80s comedies about scrappy underdogs coming together to overcome a superior force and find their true passion and self-worth in the process.

We meet the hot manager, the goofy original club member, the chubby friendless nerd, the effeminate idol, and the obnoxious know-it-all gaijin (foreigner). Naturally they encounter all the other stock characters you can imagine: the tough guy jocks who think they are disgracing the sanctity of sumo, the obnoxious distrustful elders, etc etc etc. I won't spoil how it turns out, but let me just say, you'll never believe what happens at the big tournament!

I kid. Despite its many derivative qualities, I was quite entertained by this movie and think even a non-sumo fan with at least a passing interest in Japan and a tolerance for subtitles could probably find worse ways to spend an hour and a half. For a sumo fan, it's pretty much a two-thumbs-up guarantee. Content Warning: There is a fairly gratuitous amount of flabby yet hirsute male inner thigh to contend with.

7 / 10

A sum greater than its parts

With an interesting premise as well as memorable characters, Sumo Do is an enjoyable movie. It is a movie that geys better as it goes on, with very believable sumo matches.

However, there is some poor directing decisions with sometimes amatuerish camerawork and awkward shots. Some of the dialogue is also delivered (perhaps intentionally) in quick, robotic fashion.

Still, the unique aspects of the film and strength of characterization make it an above average japanese film.