Japanese filmmaker Sabu is returning to the director’s chair after a three-year hiatus with an adaptation of Takiji Kobayashi’s famed literarywork The Crab Cannery Ship (Kanikosen).

Nightmare Detective star Ryuhei Matsuda will play the lead role of a sailor who spearheads a mutiny against the oppressive ruling regime on a crab fishing and processing vessel. Matsuda is joined by cast members Hidetoshi Nishijima and Hirofumi Arai.

The film’s production consortium is currently led by IMJ Entertainment and Media Factory, with additional partners in negotiations to invest. IMJ’s Ryosuke Mameoka will produce. The film goes before cameras at the end of this month on sets and locations in Ashikaga City in Tochigi Prefecture.

Written in 1929, Kobayashi’s book is a key work in the proletarian literature movement of the times. The novel has seen a recent resurgence in popularity through a manga edition as well as Kadokawa Publishing’s reprint earlier this year. It was previously adapted to film in 1953.

While the original novel contains serious political undertones, the film will be reworked as the darkly humorous entertainment Sabu is known for, and not set during any specific time period.

Sabu’s last theatrical release was 2005 youth drama Dead Run. In the interim, he has focused on directing his first foreign language feature while participating in Asian project markets. Korea’s Finecut is currently looking for co-production partners for crime comedy-drama Arrested Memories.

Beginning his career as an actor, Sabu began directing in 1996 with D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner, which screened at Berlin and had a 20-city release in the US (as Non-Stop). 2000’s Mondaywas awarded the Fipresci Prize and The Blessing Bell the Netpac Award in 2003.

The Crab Cannery Ship is tentatively slated for an early summer 2009 release.