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A Tale of Two Sisters (One-Disc)
A Tale of Two Sisters
Actors: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim, Geun-Young Moon, Seung-bi Lee
Director: Ji-woon Kim
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
R     2005     1hr 55min

Studio: Genius Products Inc Release Date: 06/27/2006


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Movie Details

Actors: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim, Geun-Young Moon, Seung-bi Lee
Director: Ji-woon Kim
Creators: Mo-gae Lee, Ji-woon Kim, Hyeon-mi Lee, Jeong-wan Oh, Jung-Wan Oh, Ki-min Oh
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Tartan Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/29/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 55min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: Korean
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

A Horror Film with Genuine Human Drama.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 04/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""A Tale of Two Sisters" is a rarity among horror films that combines genuine human drama with spookiness. And it goes one better in presenting the audience with a multi-layered mystery that reveals itself gradually. Teenaged Su-mi (Im Su-jeong) and her younger sister Su-yeon (Moon Geun-yeong) return home to their father and stepmother after a stay at a mental hospital. Su-mi is outspoken, resentful of her stepmother, and always protective of the more reserved Su-yeon. Shortly after the girls arrive, strange things begin to happen around the house. Su-mi is plagued by horrific nightmares that may or may not be real. Objects seem to replicate themselves. Images of people appear and disappear. Their stepmother (Yeom Jeong-ah) blames the girls and then the house. Su-mi blames her stepmother. Their father (Kim Kab-su) blames everyone's inability to adjust to their new circumstances. Events from the past which are alluded to but never explained may hold the answer. Or is an otherworldly presence at work?

It's not surprising that "A Tale of Two Sisters" owes much of its success to its credibility. The relationships of these people - the resentful and protective older sister, the concerned but frustrated father, the cold and jealous stepmother- are in the forefront of the narrative, not secondary to the horror. Deep-seated emotions drive the characters, not fear. Unlike most horror or mystery films, we understand less of what's going on than the characters do. Writer/director Kim Ji-woon keeps the audience in the dark until nearly the end of the film. Since these are credible characters, we want to understand what's happening to them, and that sustains our interest. Layers of the mystery are peeled away gradually, revealing a genuine human tragedy with horrific implications.

"A Tale of Two Sisters" will appeal to fans of psychological thrillers as well as horror. I found the film more gripping than frightening. It has a story to tell -rather than just creeping you out. The film doesn't suffer from underwriting or bad writing that I've come to expect from Asian horror films -or from horror films in general. If anything, "A Tale of Two Sisters" is more complicated than it needs to be at a few points. Production values also seem pretty high. Fine cinematography beautifully contrasts the idyllic, bright countryside surrounding the family's lovely old home with its dark, oppressive interior. In Korean with English or Spanish subtitles.

The DVD (Tartan Video 2005): There are reportedly 2 versions of this Tartan DVD: a single disc that is rated R and a two-disc set that is unrated. I assume it's unrated only because the bonus material hasn't been rated. The disc I saw was the first disc of the 2-disc set. It includes a trailer and two audio commentaries (in Korean with subtitles). The first commentary is by writer/director Kim Ji-woon, director of photography Lee Mo-gae, and lighting director O Seung-chui. This is a scene-by-scene analysis of how the story, tone, and characters are expressed through photography and lighting, including framing, lighting design, and camera movements. It's quite a good commentary if you're interested in the filmmaking process. The second commentary is with writer/director Kim Ji-woon and the actresses who played the sisters, Im Su-jeong and Moon Geun-yeong. Kim gives further commentary about his decisions and intentions and prompts the actresses to comment on their performances. Sorry, I have not seen the second disc of bonus material."
"I will never let this happen again."
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Two sisters Su-Mi and Su-Yeon return to their home after a period of convalescence after the death of their mother. Their father awaits them with his new bride - Eun-joo, once a nurse on the father's staff. Su-Mi is intensely angry with both her father and her new stepmother, and from this broken relationship, the film moves forward. But this quickly turns into far more than a wicked stepmother film.

Bit by bit director Ji-woon Kim makes it apparent that there is something deeply wrong. Bad dreams turn into bad reality and back again as viewers learn not to trust the evidence of their eyes. Kim uses a lot of sudden inserts that will have you hitting the pause and step buttons repeatedly, but to no avail. It is a wicked woman, an insane girl, or a haunted house that lies at the dark center of this bleak tale?

This is not so much a horror story as dark tale of characters in search of a resolution - one that uses horror as its metaphor. Gestures and glances leave no doubt in anyone's mind that behind the characters words lies a secret that divides them onto separate parts. Only the two young girls seem to find solace together, but their quiet moments are continually disturbed by their step-mother, who seems mad as a hatter. But, as you can probably tell now from this review, almost nothing is as it seems.

The direction really is brilliant. Careful use of color and shadow make their rural home into a haunted gothic mansion. Memories, not ghosts though, are the lurkers in the shadow, and it is up to the viewer to try to find the real thread in a truly layered plot. Images, especially the use of hair and facial profiles contribute to the double meanings. The acting is also excellent, a far cry from the what we're used to in oriental horror. Having watched Ringu recently I can honestly say that this is the better film.

Have somebody with you when you watch this film. You will want the company before this is over."
Heartfelt human tragedy and the madness that ensues
Matthew King | Toronto, Canada | 06/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"First impressions should not always be taken as par for the course. That?s the lesson I?ve learned after my second viewing of this Korean film. While impressed at the technical wizardry of director Ji-woon Kim, his film still left me with a sour taste in my mouth after the initial viewing. ?A tale of two sisters? is one of those films that has a major twist in the plot that makes you rethink the entire events you?ve previously seen. If done right this technique can be a clever move, however it seems to have been done to death in the thrillers of the past 5 years or so. As soon as the credits rolled a strange combination of feeling dumb and disappointed hit me and I felt like I?d missed the whole point of the movie. But although dismayed once the credit rolled I still could not get this film out of my head. The very next day I decided to give it another viewing and I?m glad I did. All of a sudden, key pieces of dialogue revealed themselves to be much more important than previously thought and actions that were once confusing suddenly made a lot more sense. This is a film that commands a second viewing to be fully appreciated. Trust me on this one.

Sisters Su-mi (the older and strong-willed sister) and Su-yeon (the younger and more timid one) return to their father?s home, a large rural and gothic house, after being away at the hospital due to extended and unspecified illnesses. Almost immediately after arriving, their shallow, condescending stepmother is on their case accusing and criticizing them for an assortment of things like not cleaning their rooms, being messy, supposedly being rude, etc. Relationships between the three of them deteriorate to the point where the two sisters begin to suffer not only verbal but physical abuse, all while the stepfather looks on passively. Just when tensions begin to reach a boiling point, the stepfather reveals a shocking plot point that turns the entire story on its head and makes us rethink the entire movie we?re watching.

Technically, this film is highly accomplished, more than just about any of the other high-profile horror movies to come out of Asia in recent years. From the complex plot, to the perfect casting and gorgeous cinematography every aspect of this film is a wonder to behold. Its ability to creep out the viewer is inspiring: it has a control over light and shadow that is amazing. Even what happens during the day is spooky, as the film has a beautiful portrait to it, a mix of flashy colors and shadows that lends it a surrealistic feel. The house where the entirety of the movie occurs is a truly creepy place where secrets and dangers seem to lurk behind every door. Several sequences such as the ghostly appearances in the girls? rooms and under the sink, as well as the dinner with relatives are the ultimate in creepiness.

Another thing I enjoyed immensely was the chemistry between the two sisters. Obviously the two love each other, are very close and understand each other perfectly. The big sister is always taking care of the little one, the little one always looking to the big sister for guidance. Their strong relationship adds so much to the power of the movie and its eeriness because you feel that something will soon crash down and shatter their little world into pieces. A few of the scenes however were kind of derivative of other Asian fright films such as the woman crawling in the bedroom scene which reminded me suspiciously of the one in Ju-on: the Grudge. Also, the whole idea that some characters might be ghosts is similar to recent thrillers such as ?The Others? and ?The Sixth Sense?. But unlike these two films, ?A tale of two sisters? stands much better to numerous repeat viewings because the twist is not at the heart of everything. Beautiful and tragic, this one?s a must if you love Asian ghost chillers.
Stays with you
Maria William | Brooklyn, NY United States | 06/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one amazing movie. People often compare it to "Ringu" and other well-known Asian horror flicks, but I believe they have nothing on this one.

The story starts off simple enough: two sisters return home after the death of their mother and have to deal with an evil stepmother. In addition, the house appears haunted. But it's not what it seems. It's never what it seems.

The representation of the supernatural is pretty much the same as in all other Asian horror films, so if you're seen "Ringu" and "Ju-On", there will be no surprises on that front. The surprise, for me, was that the supernatural turned out the lesser focus of this movie, if at all. The main focus is on humanity, on emotional and psychological spectrum.

I will admit that the flow of the movie is quite confusing for most of its duration. Nothing makes sense. Many things seem weird, pointless, or out of continuity. There are two major twists, the first of which makes absolutely no sense until the second one occurs. STICK WITH IT! When you reach the end, it'll all make sense, and be well worth it. Where movies like "Ringu" or "Ju-On" fall short or leave you hanging, "The Tale Of Two Sisters" does not. It delivers tenfold. If you just go with it, you'll be handsomely rewarded.

It's wonderfully shot and convincingly acted. It's genuinely creepy and disturbing, but at the same time endlessly beautiful and poignant. There's not one wasted shot, not one wasted word in this film. I had to watch it twice just to appreciate all the subtleties of the story and the direction.

It's not an easy ride but well worth it. Don't miss it!"