Occasional laughs and congenial atmosphere are challenged by a weak script and an overlong running time in innocuous and light comedy “Sumo Hot Pot — Chanko.” Pic reps another round helmer Toshiki Sato, an icon in Japan’s pink (softcore porn) industry, has sought with regular films. Unfortunately, similar territory has been covered to more humorous effect by Masayuki Suo (“Shall We Dance”) in “Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t” (1992). Pic released locally to mild biz last year but could find favor with good-natured family-themed fests.
Brazilian exchange student Carabera (Ricaya Spooner) is trying to stop the languishing sumo wrestling club at East Hiroshima University from disappearing altogether. In an effort to boost club membership, he recruits emotionally repressed cutie Yuka (Atsuko Sudo) and two bickering American and Kazakhastan students for upcoming university championships. Sumo regime has cultural interest, but yarn needs steroids and a trim to get it to contender status. Pic affirms Japanese culture with a gentle warning for Nipponese girls who fall in love with foreigners. Helming is flat-footed and like Sato’s pink films, thesps may have been chosen for their wrestling ability. Tech credits qualify, but are not winners.