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[Herald Interview] Why director Jang Hang-jun tried to make ‘Rebound’ 99% realistic

By Kim Da-sol

Published : April 19, 2023 - 15:40

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Director Jang Hang-jun of “Rebound” (Medialab Siso) Director Jang Hang-jun of “Rebound” (Medialab Siso)

Director Jang Hang-jun, better known for his wit and being the husband of the country’s top-paid drama writer Kim Eun-hee, has returned to his directing roots with sports comedy “Rebound,” which opened on April 5.

After the 2017 mystery thriller “Forgotten,” Jang decided to try his hand at a comedy film, with the aim of building up characters and a storyline in a more exciting way, he said.

“I did not want to make this sports comedy into something that was ‘too much.’ I did not want to exaggerate anything, but rather make everything natural by adding in improvisations through discussions with actors on the scene,” Jang told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on March 31.

“I believe actor Ahn Jae-hong's natural acting particularly shone in this project after we talked to each other and decided to keep it simple to clearly show the audience the characters' narratives," the director said.

“Rebound” revolves around a public service officer-turn-basketball coach, Kang Yang-hyun (Ahn), and his team at Busan ChungAng High School who participate in a nationwide high school basketball competition.

Based on the real-life story of this underdog basketball team in 2012, director Jang said his major focus of direction was to bring the reality level to 99 percent on the screen.

“I believe that maintaining the emotion of the real-life story is the key point and the purpose of this film. Unlike other sports films, ‘Rebound’ is about the growing up of not only the young players in the team, but (the growing up of) the coach himself. There is no one in this film who is superior. I wanted to bring that realistic point to the film, not dramatically portraying coach Kang as someone with amazing leadership,” Jang said.

According to Jang, not only did he audition over 300 actors across the country who actually play basketball, but he also did the majority of shooting for the training scenes at Busan ChungAng High School to revive the 2012 atmosphere. He even changed the door of the gym to look like the one in the past.

“(The door of the gym) was originally an old, aluminum door that made a squeaky sound. But the school has since renewed the door through renovation. During shooting, our arts team redesigned a door following the outdated one and reattached it,” Jang said.

Besides showing scenes in a realistic manner, director Jang also prioritized showing details of the basketball games.

“Unlike the famous ‘Slam Dunk’ movie which talks about one single game throughout the film, our movie shows various games which highlight the progress of the players’ skills and bonding as they head to the final. So I thought it was important to show the audience the details, such as the advertisement board in the court, the color of the chairs and, of course, the shoe brand the players wore in 2012,” Jang said.

Jang did not forget to appreciate his wife, Kim, who has also participated in writing the script for "Rebound."

“At first, I looked for a different writer because Kim was super busy at that moment. But after hearing that I would do this project, Kim approached me first and suggested that I allow her to review it. About 50 percent of the story is based on a real-life event, 25 percent is from writer Kwon Seong-hee who first edited it, 20 percent is from Kim and the last 5 percent was done by myself,” he said.

The 53-year-old director said that he wishes to continue making films in his 60s.

“As far as I know, being a filmmaker is the most exciting job I’ve ever heard of. Surveys also show that filmmakers had higher job satisfaction compared with doctors,” he said jokingly.

“One thing that is clear about ‘Rebound’ is that it is a movie that anyone from anywhere or any generation can enjoy watching and empathize with. It’s a movie about growth and personal development and most of all, it’s based on a real-life story. That allows the audience to feel attached to our film,” Jang added.

Poster for “Rebound” (Barunson E&A) Poster for “Rebound” (Barunson E&A)