A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
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Kap-su Kim
Kap-su Kim
Jung-ah Yum
Jung-ah Yum
Lim Soo-jung
Lim Soo-jung
Geun-young Moon
Geun-young Moon
Seung-bi Lee
Seung-bi Lee
Review by Christopher
Added: January 19, 2005
Su-mi and Su-yeon return to their home after being in a mental institution for an uncertain amount of time. Instead of going directly in the house, they decide to go off on their own for awhile. When they finally enter the house, they are immediately ceased by their stepmother, Eun-joo. She starts to yell at them about their lack of respect for running off on their own before coming inside after she has been cleaning and cooking all day for them. Once they finally get away from her, they head up to their room until dinner is served. Joining the three girls would be the two youngest's father, Moo-hyeon. Once he finishes his plate, Su-mi informs Eun-joo that she will not be eating with him. The two get in an argument and the two sisters run up stairs once again.

Later in the evening, Su-yeon is awoken by her door slowly opening and her sheets being pulled off of her. The only thing that's shown is a hand. The hand quickly vanishes and the door is shut, like it was never open. Being quite scared, she goes to Su-mi's run to sleep. Early in the morning, Su-mi awakes from a nightmare, then notices someone crawling on her floor. A young girl shoots up from the floor and onto the bed. She begins bleeding beneath her skirt as a hand whips out of the some area. Su-mi awakes from the double nightmare to find Su-yeon having her period while she's still asleep. Su-mi tries to sneak a number of pads out of Eun-joo's bathroom while she's sleeping. She gets caught and finds it odd that they've both started their period on the same date.

Su-mi makes a short trip out into the fields to an old warehouse that held some things of the sisters mother. Jewelry, clothing, pictures, ect.. She brought them back to the house so Su-yeon could look through everything as well. While looking through the pictures, Su-mi began getting upset by seeing Eun-joo in numerous pictures with their father. She pushed them aside as Su-yeon took them. That evening, Eun-joo invited her sister and sister's husband over for dinner. Everything was going fine until her sister began to have a panic attack. Basically just going into an uncontrollable fit on the kitchen floor. After her husband shoves some pills down her throat and she begins to feel the effect, she notices something under the kitchen sink, but can't make it out.

When the two begin driving home and she dawns on it for awhile, she figures out what she saw. She informs her husband that something strange is going on in that house because she saw a person under the sink. Back at the house, Eun-joo watches one of the cabinet drawers open by itself. She finds nothing in the cabinet while inspecting it, then looks under the sink, nothing there. As she begins to get up, there's a girl behind her sitting at the table. When she actually looks at the table, no one's there. But now there's a long nail with a ring attatched to it on the floor. As she goes to pick it up, a hand from under the sink grabs her. When she turns around to run, the same girl is standing right in front of her.

Moo-hyeon gives her some medicine to relax and then wanders off by himself. Eun-joo shortly breaks into Su-yeon's room and finds the pictures Su-mi brought in. She sees that she was ripped out of every picture and the remains scribbled on with black marker. Once she begins yelling at Su-yeon, she finds her pet bird dead under her blankets. Su-yeon is yanked out of the bed and then locked into a closet. She's left there until Su-mi hears the noise and gets her free. When their father find the two of them together, he tries to understand why Su-mi has been acting so strange as of late. Once she tells him that Su-yeon has been being harassed by Eun-joo, he delivers some news that sends the entire story into a new perspective.

Running for short under two hours in length, which takes over an hour to actually start becoming a horror film. That first hour or so is mostly just memories and arguing, a lot of drama. It wasn't really that unfitting to the storyline, but a lot of it could have been shortened and cropped out. Like the majority of the arguments Su-mi had with Eun-joo and Moo-hyeon, they could have been completely deleted. But once things start getting explained, more starts happening and it becomes quite interesting. Though it also gets confusing. Not insanely complex, but enough to get your mind to start thinking.

There's a fight scene between Su-mi and Eun-joo that gets quite violent. Eun-joo tries to pour steaming hot water on Su-mi but misses, Su-mi retaliates with stabbing her in the hand with a pair of scissors. Su-mi's head then gets slammed into a glass cabinet door, breaking the glass (obviously). As she's falling, she knocks over a can of fishing hooks that Eun-joo falls on. Then Su-mi has her head slam into a wodden table, knocking her out. Even though it sounds decent typed, it's fifty times better when it's watched. Really not a lot of blood through the film, or violence. Though it shares some here and there.

The movie's story line was taken from an old Korean folk tale entitled "Janghwa Heungryeonjeon". Had the movie been made back when said story was recently coming into light, it would have probably been much better, a shorter version would have also added to being better. More than ninety percent of the film takes place in one house with four characters. Almost two hours of that gets quite mind numbing. The acting was good, which always helps out a bit. Few of the scenes actually had me jump a bit, which is quite nice since there hasn't been too many movies to do that to me as of late. Quite a pleasant film experience at the end of it all.

Final Conclusion: 7/10
Review by Chad
Added: April 27, 2005
I'm not going to go over the storyline in depth here, as Christopher has already done a rather lengthy job with it below this review. Just jump down to his review for the plot outline, and then come right back up to this review to get my thoughts on it.

Back? Good. Now then, even though this film is marketed as a horror, and even though the cover of the film would imply that it's a horror, and even though(!) the plot outline seems like it would fit in nicely within the horror genre... this movie is not a horror. Some strange events do occur throughout the film, but this film is no more a horror than "Silence Of The Lambs" when all is said and done. With that out of the way, this movie falls much more into the thriller / mystery genre, as we try to unravel just what in the hell is going on. It's impossible to explain the direction that the movie goes in without giving away major spoilers, but suffice it to say that things get very bizarre and very interesting once the secrets start to be revealed.

One thing that a lot of people complain about in regards to this movie (including our very own Christopher) is the pacing of the beginning of the film. While it's true that there's no horror to be found here, nor is there any action, these opening scenes are crucial to the outcome of the film. I found that they moved along at a nice pace, and although fans of Hollywood blockbusters may find the urge to hit that fast-forward button, people who know what to expect from Japanese and Korean horror will find these opening scenes to be perfectly fine as is. The events that unfold later on in the movie are setup perfectly as a result of this opener, and the grand finale of the film turns out to be one twisted little tale with some shocking revelations. However, one thing that I should point out here - this film requires your undivided attention while watching. It's very easy to miss out on what exactly is happening on the screen, as this movie is told through a variety of time-frames and perspectives. We switch back and forth between real-time, flashbacks of the past, and also the storyline as seen by various characters. Asian horror is notorious for requiring the viewer to put on the thinking-cap while unraveling the storyline, but this one requires even more attention than the average export. However, once you finally "get" the storyline that is being presented, it turns out to be a truly unique and truly excellent film.

As if the storyline wasn't cause enough to give this movie a viewing, director Ji-Woon Kim has put together one of the more visually appealing films of recent times, with an obvious attention to the details. The sets and environments used throughout the film perfectly match whatever the current tone of the film happens, right down to the bedroom decorations and lighting... this is especially noticeable in the kitchen scenes and the dream sequences. The score used throughout is another example of Kim's attention to details... while most film scores either annoy or serve merely as a backdrop to the events at hands, here we see a shining example of how a musical score can actually enhance and raise the tension level of any given scene. All of this attention to the little things results in a film that is easy to become immersed in, and as a result, it's quite easy to find yourself jumping at the few horror elements of the film. There were at least two scenes throughout the running time that made yours truly jump, and though this may not sound very eventful, do remember that this is coming from someone who rarely becomes startled during tense moments in horror films. To have a single film do it at least twice is quite an accomplishment.

It seems as though I find myself saying this in every foreign horror review, but look for a remake of this one to surface here in the States some time soon. Dreamworks has acquired the remake rights to the film, so I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before we witness two Hollywood bimbos playing out the storyline in front of a teen audience. I hate to judge prematurely, but there is really no way that this type of film would go over very well with a mass market audience. With that said, I'm fairly certain that the attention to detail and involving storyline that made the film work out so well will be scrapped in favor of a more mindless entertainment approach.

If you can view a film that tells most of the storyline through dialog rather than with the use of gore and ghostly occurrences, and you've also got a good idea of what to expect from Asian horror, this would definitely be a high recommendation from me. However, if you're looking for another Ringu or Ju-On, films full of ghostly occurrences and horrifying imagery, A Tale Of Two Sisters may be a film that you'd want to pass over. In my eyes, however, it's damned near perfect. 9/10.
. #1: . - added 09/13/2005, 08:28 PM
Highly bizarre film. It certainly had me hooked on it. I for one didn't guess what was going on in the plot until it was actually played out. Great stuff.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #2: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 04/19/2007, 08:05 AM
I'm tired of watching movies that take the route in having a twist like the one this had. Although, A Tale Of Two Sisters is quite original in execution and stands out amongst a bunch of those other films that cheaply tack it on. I very much liked how genres mixed and kept me guessing where the story was headed. Great performances all around, ace cinematography, and an exceptionally well-conceived storyline.
ThunderStruck5a #3: ThunderStruck5a - added 08/16/2007, 02:32 AM
i guess i just wasnt cool enough to figure out exactly what was going on in the end. i mean i got most of it but not all of it, and thus, i was disappointed. still good looking though
danimigra #4: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 05:22 PM
yeah.. is not easy to watch... i have to watch it again to try to understand it better... even if i am fan of asian movies....after that i will let u know..jaja
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 05/25/2009, 05:30 PM
A little too slow for my taste. Usually these kinds of films don't make any sense until the final few moments, and then they pay off. I found that this one ran about 20 minutes too long, and didn't really deliver the goods. Still, it was beautifully shot and a nice little tale.

Rik #6: Rik - added 07/23/2009, 11:22 AM
The girl under the sink was the creepiest thing I've ever seen. Like a gazillion times more scary than Sadako in Ringu.
BuryMeAlive #7: BuryMeAlive - added 03/07/2011, 04:17 AM
The movie knows how to build-up some suspense, I'll give it that. However the build-up hardly ever has any pay-off, nothing really happens and the ending drags on forever.
Bill Wolford #8: Bill Wolford - added 09/16/2015, 05:43 PM
4/10.....had about 10 endings too many.
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