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SUMO DO, SUMO DON'T

Japan, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Youth Film Festival)

Director: Masayuki Suo

The Bad News Bears go Tokyo for Masayuki Suo's teen wrestlefest, Sumo Do, Sumo Don't. Truancy, transvestism and desperation coerce a motley assortment of misfits, nerds and academic failures into resurrecting their university's long-ailing, Z-division Sumo team. Upon their intially laughable and unskilled foray into the world of constricting Mawashi sashes and grunting bulk, these shanghaied sumos are trounced by all comers. Accused of bringing ridicule upon themselves, the club, their university and the sport itself, the shamefully vanquished battlers rather recklessly accept the challenge of showing their true mettle.

Cocteau quotations, indolence, gluttony and derision are employed to draw out the warrior spirit; nervous flatulence and the blind fear of the team's only porcine punisher are transformed into sumo strategy.

Director Suo places the traditional values and merits of the sumo discipline in conflict with the Western materialist tendencies of Japanese youth. His protagonists are drawn to an insistence that promises ski and scuba holidays and a corporate career path, courtesy of family connections. Sumo Do, Sumo Don't exhibits all the endearing qualities of a classic triumph-of-the-underdog comedy, incorporating scatalogical humour and Oriental slapstick aplenty.

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