One of the frequent complaints lodged against the Japanese film industry is that producers are reluctant to bankroll anything that isn't based on an existing novel, manga or TV series. There's a lot of truth in the criticism, but not every screen adaptation of an existing property is a product of bet-hedging.

For audacity alone, this movie version of Kou Machida's "Punk Samurai Slash Down" is worth applauding. As books go, the musician-turned-author’s 2004 novel wasn’t exactly “Finnegans Wake,” but most producers would have concluded that the surrealistic period romp was unfilmable. If its verbose, wildly anachronistic dialogue and narrative nonsequiturs weren't enough, there was also the climax, in which a samurai clan battles thousands of religious fanatics with help from an army of monkeys.

It's not a safe bet, in other words, but Gakuryu Ishii's film would seem to have plenty stacked in its favor. The director's "Crazy Thunder Road" and "Burst City" — made back when he was still calling himself Sogo — are punk cinema classics, while 2000's "Gojoe" proved he could handle the demands of a samurai epic. And if anyone was up to the task of adapting Machida's novel, it would be screenwriter Kankuro Kudo, who took an equally anarchic approach to period conventions with his 2005 directorial debut, "Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims."