TOKYO — Producer Haruki Kadokawa, whose recent credits include the smash WW2 epic “Yamato” and the Akira Kurosawa period swashbuckler remake “Tsubaki Sanjuro,” is directing his first pic in eleven years.

Titled “Warau Keikan” (The Laughing Cop), the suspenser is based on the first of a series of three police procedurals by Jo Sasaki. Nao Omori stars as a cop caught in a dark web of departmental corruption.

The pic started shooting on September 18 and is skedded to wrap at the end of October. Release has been penciled in for  the fall of 2009, with Toei distribbing. 

“I tasted every kind of human hardship when I was in prison, which me gave the confidence, for the first time, to make a human drama,” Kadokawa told the Sankei Sports newspaper in an interview. 

 Kadokawa served a two-and-half year sentence, from 2001 to 2004, for cocaine smuggling. He was arrested in 1993, after shortly after the release of his last major pic as a director, the kiddie dinosaur epic “Rex.” In 1997 he shot a remake of “The Girl Who Leaped Through Time,” a 1983 smash-hit fantasy pic that he produced, but it got only a limited release.

Kadokawa’s biggest hit to date as a helmer is the 1990 period drama “Heaven and Earth,” which was the highest domestic grosser for the year, with nearly $100 million.