Famed Japanese film producer Haruki Kadokawa has returned to the director's chair after an 11-year absence.

Kadokawa is currently shooting suspense drama Laughing Policeman, based on the first of Jo Sasaki's series of novels released by Kadokawa's publishing arm. The story depicts the internecine struggles of a corrupt police department. Japanese character actor Nao Omori (Achilles And The Tortoise) stars.

Sasaki was unhappy with the original director's violent action-centered screenplay, prompting Kadokawa to take the reigns.

'I know about human hardship from serving time in prison, so I'm confident about directing my first drama,' stated Kadokawa, referring to his two-and-a-half year incarceration for drug-related charges.

Kadokawa's last directing effort was 1997's adaptation of Yasutaka Tsutsui's novel The Little Girl Who Conquered Time, later adapted into an award-winning animated feature. Overseas, Kadokawa is known for directing 1990 samurai epic Heaven And Earth.

This is not the first time that Kadokawa has attempted a return to directing in recent years. As reported on Screendaily in March 2007, Kadokawa announced a production about a female high school student who travels back to the Edo period but the project never materialised.

After being released from prison in 2004, Kadokawa produced late 2005 comeback hit Yamato, which earned $43.17m (Y5.09bn). Its success paved the way for dream project Genghis Khan, but the March 2007 Shochiku release only managed to gross $13.2m (Y1.39b) of its $25m budget.

Kadokawa followed up with last December's remake of Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro and this June's sci-fi fantasy God's Puzzle, directed by Takashi Miike.

Laughing Policeman is slated for an autumn 2009 release.