For all its centrality to Japanese culture, sumo wrestling doesn’t lend itself to screen adaptations. There’s an obvious physical requirement that precludes most actors from participating, at least without the aid of fat suits or a diet that would put Robert De Niro’s “Raging Bull” weight-gain regime to shame.
You could count on two chubby hands the number of Japanese movies that have been made about sumo, but now a couple of TV series have come along at once. “Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t,” released on Disney+ last autumn, played things safe with a reboot of Masayuki Suo’s 1992 comedy about amateur college wrestlers.
Now there’s “Sanctuary” on Netflix, which takes on the more ambitious task of depicting the sport at a professional level. Directed by Kan Eguchi (“The Fable”) and written by Tomoki Kanazawa (“Sabakan”), it boasts the superior production values you’d expect from the streamer’s Japanese originals, though it also shares some of the same shortcomings.