‘Reminiscence’ Could’ve Been Directed by ‘Oldboy’ Filmmaker Park Chan-wook

‘Reminiscence’ Could’ve Been Directed by ‘Oldboy’ Filmmaker Park Chan-wook

There’s a loving nod to director Park Chan-wook in Lisa Joy‘s feature directorial debut, Reminiscence. The detective of the mind, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), goes toe-to-toe with a corrupt cop. It’s a messy fight that involves Bannister picking up a hammer.

Joy cuts to a wide two-shot and lets the hammer action play out for a beat, which confirms the Oldboy reference was no accident. In fact, the filmmaker behind The Handmaiden and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was once interested in helming the new original science-fiction noir, according to Joy.

Joy spent five years working on the story, which features a flooded Miami, a femme fatale (Rebecca Ferguson), and a hardened detective obsessed with the past. While she was still working on launching with co-creator Jonathan Nolan Westworld, Joy’s script for Reminiscence landed on the annual Blacklist. Now, it’s officially an unconventional Warner Bros. summer movie, but previously, it was at a different studio with different directors circling it. “I love Oldboy,” Joy told us:

“It’s just a great film and I love director Park. We talked. He actually was interested for a while in directing Reminiscence, which I would’ve loved to see but it was at a different studio at the time. And we could not agree on that, but he is a great influence. He managed to make a fight scene unlike any that I’ve ever seen before. You’re always looking for something fresh in every fight scene.”

The filmmaker confirmed the hammer was indeed a nod to Oldboy‘s corridor set-piece, which is a rightfully famous piece of relentless brutality. As for Joy’s own Oldboy-inspired set-piece, it’s one of the few action beats in her film, which is pure noir. Characters rely on their minds, not their fists.

With Reminiscence, even in the rare moments of action, Joy wants her characters and story to progress. Key information is given during the set-pieces. It’s not, as the filmmaker notes, action that only provides destruction. She told us:

“The hope for me is that it doesn’t just ascend to punching and fast cuts and such a large, symphonic mash of colors and sound that you could literally leave, take a bathroom break and come back and [they’re] still doing this thing,” she added. “That to me is the definition of what you’re striving for. You can’t take a bathroom break during this fight scene and come back and be like, it’s cool they’re still mashing each other to bits. I really appreciate fight scenes that are scripted. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Action that has an arc in which the emotional journey of a character is as important within that fight scene as the physical blows that they are doling out and receiving.”

Reminiscence hits theaters and HBO Max on August 20, 2021.

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