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on 15 February 2006
A Tale Of Two Sisters, ah, where to begin? Great horror films have been few and far between of recent years. We've had The Sixth Sense, we've had The Ring, and now we have this (okay, it's not exactly new, but it's the latest great in the genre). It's based around the Korean folk tale, and is about two sisters who, after the death of their mother, are sent to a mental insitute. What they come home to though, is nowhere near your average family life.
Both them, and their step-mother, witness horrific goings-on in the house where they live. Their dead mother appearing in haunting visions, ghouls entering rooms where they sleep and pulling off their bed sheets, and ghostly forms hiding under the sink. Are the girls really mentally sound? Are they playing tricks on their step-mother? Or is there some other sinister force at work? You'll be asking these questions throughout, and it feeds you information that makes you change your conclusions constantly.
It definitely leaves an impact on you, and you'll find the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end whenever you walk into a dark room again. It doesn't pertain to usual western horrors, where more violence equals more horror. It's very much in the same vein as the Sixth Sense, but has, in my opinion, an ending far less predictable and far more distubing. The psychological aspects of 'A Tale Of Two Sisters', truly are top-notch. Creepy, mysterious, well-acted, and a great storyline. If you want those qualities, then look no further.
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on 16 April 2005
Sadly this film has been much neglected in the West - a real tragedy as it is one of the best psychological/horror/suspense films I have ever seen.
This Korean movie (based on an ancient folk-tale) is masterful -and that is no exaggeration. The acting is superb, and the direction outstanding.
One viewing may perhaps leave the viewer a little confused (I found myself checking out the internet movie database forums in order to fully understand the beautiful and complex film I had just watched) - multiple viewings are strongly recommended as it works on so many levels. This is no ill-thoughtout slasher horror movie - indeed it puts many other better known titles to shame, this is one of those very rare films that gives you so much more. Every scene is carefully crafted to add not only to the tension and emotion of the picture, but also to the symbolism that flows through the entire piece.
This honestly is a true classic of modern cinema. The DVD also comes with many great extras and hidden bonus features.
Buy 'A Tale of Two Sisters' before it becomes yet another great Asian film that is left hidden behind a shallow big-budget remake!
10/10
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on 13 April 2006
First I must point out that I found A Tale of Two Sisters to be a very moving and involved phycological thriller. The fact that others compare this movie with the likes of The Ring and The Grudge etc etc is quite worrying as watching this film with the expectation of jumping out of your seat with fear every few minutes will leave you disappointed. I have no idea, other than the possibibility of riding on the back of international publicity that The Ring received, why the producers of this film would compare the two.

The story is complicated and clever, I would definitely recommend watching the film a few times after the first viewing just to spot how everything fits together and especially how the characters interact. The explanation on the DVD and various articles on the plot I have read online do not help you to understand the plot, rather confuse it more so, the simplest and most satisfying way is to concentrate and watch everything fall into place on the second or third viewing.

Maybe I'm exaggerating the complexity of the plot(now I think about it I am), but it's clear from other reviews and the reactions of people I have shown the film to that some people can't appreciate a film unless everything is made crystal clear at the end by a narrator.

Anyway, more about the film. It's a dark setting as far as films go and makes for tense moments throughout the film. Some may find the film abit slow and plodding but I would urge you to take solace in the plot which doesn't feel slow after you know what's going on and the excellent directing which is very artful and pleasing to the eye, especially the transistions between order and chaos that the director portrays so well.

In conclusion, a disturbing look into the human phyche with a brilliant plot but not for the action/gore generation. More an arty thriller that can be watched several times and doesn't tire easily, definitely a must see in my book, you can have the ring anyday, I'll take this.
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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2007
Described as the 'most frightening film since Ring' and a mix of psychological horror, ghost story and drama, A Tale of Two Sisters is a truly complex film with great depth, good performances, technological perfection, and a few scares. In truth it is vastly different from Ringu, but naturally with every Asian Horror movie featuring a long-haired, scary looking girl comparisons will be made. True, Ringu is the master, but this is of an entirely different breed. If you are a fan of Ringu, Asian horror movies in general then this is definitely one to see before the Hollywood remake, but be warned- it is difficult the first time round, and will likely not be what you expected.

The film begins in a psychiatric hospital, a doctor tries to get a young girl, Soo-Yeun to explain what has happened in her past. We then apparently flash back and meet two sisters, Soo-yeun and Soo-mi, their father and step-mum. The sisters are very close, but they have no respect for their father, and hate their step-mum. We do not know why. Soo-mi is quieter, Soo-yeun is protective of her and will not let any harm come to her. They have returned from a mental hospital but we do not know why. There is a coldness in the house, and a lack of understanding. The father seems passive, unable to understand his kids or relate to his partner, while the step-mum is very strange, ranging from cruel to hysterically happy. Soon strange things begin to happen in the house, noises, frightening ghosts appear, or perhaps they are hallucinations. The whole house is affected, but we do not know if it an evil power in the house, the threatening demeanour of the step-mum, or if it is all just a mirage. The parents cannot stand the behaviour of the kids anymore, and a confrontation ensues where we finally learn the startling, emotional truth.

For the majority of the film, the viewer will have little idea as to what is going on. Unfortunately this does not always work for the best- true the plot keeps us guessing, but there are perhaps too many twists to confuse us. This is deliberate of course, and we get a true sense of the madness which can come from guilt and anger, although it may be too overwhelming for some. This is a pity as it is a very good film, and must be watched right to the end before any questions are really answered. However, if you enjoy many twists and being kept in a loop then few films are better than this. Admittedly some, including myself will be taken in by the tag-line, by other reviews, and will expect another terrifying time. However, the scary Ringu/Ju-on style scares are few, and the distance between them is long, ensuring frustration for those who want to be scared. When they come though they are intense, and will get the hairs on your arms reaching for the sky. Those are the only complaints I can have with the film, and for a fan of clever films they are minor.

The film's depth is unquestionable, amazing when considering it was based on a simple, popular Korean folk tale. We do not know what will happen next, or why, and we are left thinking about it for a long time after it is over. Luckily the DVD has much explanatory documentaries and interviews which will help. The music is extremely good, mixing the noises which worked to such great effect in Ringu, with touching string numbers to add to the emotional impact. The camera-work is breathtaking, with many innovative angles which will have you on edge, and the tension created is admirable. The editing is deserving of much respect as we get many quick flashbacks, false ones and true ones to past events which may or may not have happened in the way they are shown. The film looked beautiful, and the scenery is haunting. Lastly, the performances by the small cast are each excellent. Geon-yeung Mun is impressive as Soo-yeon, painfully showing the madness she feels. Kap-su Kim as the father is vacant and cold, seems to have lost any emotions he once had, and tired by all around him. Su-jeong Lim as Soo-mi is very sympathetic, and although she has little to say, conveys everything with her eyes well. The stand-out though is Jung-ah Yum as the step-mum, her wildly changing face and actions are astounding and she is genuinely creepy. We are never certain of how she will act, but know that every second she is on screen is a marvel. To summarise, definitely see this if you are a fan of Asain movies as it is a masterpiece of depth and direction, but there are more immediately scary films out there in the same vein. This will have a lasting effect on you though. This is near perfect thriller, and an above average horror.

This special edition has tonnes of extra features, from deleted scenes, to interviews with the cast, and an in depth documentary with the director. These all prove interesting after watching the film, and offer some explaination to the events of the film and to the film making process. If only all DVDs were presented like this...
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A Tale of Two Sisters is billed as a horror movie, but please don't confuse this fascinating, multi-layered story with the sort of simple-minded horror films coming out of Hollywood. The stigma attached to horror movies in the West doesn't apply when you talk about Asian horror - solely because Asian filmmakers continue to develop horror as an art form built upon subtlety, complexity, and the deepest of human emotions. A Tale of Two Sisters is high art indeed. There are some genuinely creepy scenes in this movie, but that is not where the true horror of the story lies - and that is what makes this such a mesmerizing movie.
This isn't a simple tale, as it starts you out feeling a little unbalanced and compels you to figure out what is really going on as reality and fantasy begin to blur more and more. You might be confused at more than one point. And then, once you've had your Aha moment, the film continues to pull you down dark, twisted paths. This is truly an unforgettable film that virtually compels you to watch it through a second time. Then, if you still have questions, there are two distinct commentaries on the DVD (I only watched the one with the director and the actresses who played the two sisters - but it was everything a commentary should be).
When you see this film - and you really should see it - it's important that you leave your Westernized expectations behind you. This isn't about things that go bump in the night - although, as I've said, several scenes are deliciously creepy. This is a tragic and exceedingly human story about the love between two sisters, terrible events that shatter the lives of their whole family, and the debilitating effect that regret can have on a person. I am not even going to describe the plot of the film here because it should be seen without any expectations by the viewer. The film is so complex and beautifully structured that every little thing that happens is important. That's why a second viewing leaves you even more impressed than you were after the first viewing. Kim Jee-Woon is a true craftsman of the art of moviemaking, and young Su-jeong Lim and Geun-yeong Mun are really quite amazing in their portrayal of the tragic sisters.
Some seem to find the film too confusing, and I'm not sure why this is. It's true that the story invokes flashbacks at times, but there are plenty of clues along the way - and the main revelations are quite forcefully presented. In a sense, the movie moves forward in order to take you backward, back to a beginning in which all things are made clear. It's a rich and amazingly moving way to tell a story, especially when that story resonates with as much emotional power as this one.
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on 13 March 2006
The first thing to address is that this film is not a horror film. It enters the world of a young girl recovering from the loss of a loved one and how she deals with the reprocusions. There are elements involved, such as nightmares which manifest themselves, which some people might mistake for a horror film but if you're expecting the Ring then look elsewhere.
A Tale of Two Sisters is deliberately paced and that serves to draw you deeper into this young girls world and creates a deeper empathy with her for when the film finally reveals its true self.
Basically, don't expect a horror movie, you will be disapointed, instead look forward to a great cinematic work which draws you deeper into a character than you'll find in Western cinema.
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In this 2003 psychological Korean drama [aka: Rose flower, Red Lotus] teenage girl, Su-mi is being questioned about her admission into the mental institution by a doctor and she responds by turning her head away and the scene cuts to where Su-mi and her sister are returning home, but is the home what it appears to be and what is it about the relationships that seems so strange?
From the time the sisters reach the house, it’s obvious that something is slightly ‘off’ but it’s hard to pinpoint it other than some odd comments and looks. Then in the meandering pace of things, you tend to wonder just who in the family is actually sane, but all the while it holds you in suspense as you try to understand what’s actually happening around the creepy house. There are some good plot developments and just as you thin you’ve got it figured, it changes tack and you’re not sure where you’re headed anymore, and the ending is well worth the 115 minute wait.
The first disc carries the main film offering play, scene selection, set up [2.0 default, 5.1 or DTS 5.1, English subtitles on/off, commentary with cast & director, commentary with director, DoP and lighting], original trailer and UK exclusive directors interview. Disc 2carries the Bonus Features comprising Creating a tale of two sisters [behind the scenes, design featurette, music score featurette, CGI commentary, creating the poster], deleted scenes with commentary [12 scenes and out-take reel], interviews and stills gallery.
For a 15 rating this packs some really scary ‘jump out’ moments, partly due to the atmospheric music and the dark film technique, making it more eerie than the bulk of 18 ratings that simply try to shock. If you like the grudge, the ring and don’t mind subtitles, this is well worth a try. For best results watch it late at night when it’s quiet, in a cold room, with the lights out. The creaky sound effects are superb in 5.1.
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on 14 April 2005
There are few films that leave you guessing at the conclusion of a film as badly as 'A Tale of Two Sisters.'does. What can be said that already hasn't been said? - Firstly, and rather sadly, this film doesn't appear to have got the recognition or attention in the West that is really deserves. It is truly amazing! While good Japanese films like 'Ringu' hog all the limelight, this movie from Korea stands head and shoulders above the others in my opinion, (and is often rated higher by critics and Asian film fans alike).
The acting and the direction are first rate, more so when you consider the two leading actresses were only about 22 and 16 respectively at the time.
The film works on many different levels, it is psychological, suspenseful, heartwarming and mystery film, leaving the viewer guessing as to the truth about the characters and their conflicts, the beauty being that this story is open to much speculation. I found myself searching the internet movie database right after I finished watching it just to help piece together some of the great twists and turns that were taken. This is one of those rare films that won't escape from your memory for a long, long time. Several viewings are strongly recommended to grasp the full effect of this masterpiece.
'A Tale of Two Sisters' is without doubt a must-get!
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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2007
I watched this film when I was very tired which made the film like a bit of a waking nightmare for me. I don't jump at films very much these days but I have to say that this film made me jump every time it was the director's intention to make me do so. I even missed seeing something at one point but jumped because of the excellent DTS soundtrack. I rewound it for another look and yes it made me jump again. I even woke up a bit towards the end.

The director is a graduate of art school and this comes through in the excellent framing of shots, the colour compositions and the use of fabric patterns and textures of light and sound to create a splendidly rich and atmospheric tale.

I really strongly hope that this does not get a US re-make-over as has happened with other such films e.g. The Ring, as this film deserves to be seen as complete and worthy of any Western eye. The cliche of the jerky hair over the face ghost-girl is avoided and the plot is a lot more imaginative and twisting than a lot of films on the same DVD label.

I won't spoil it by making comparisons but would say that there are already films out there from Holywood that contains some of the plot devices in this film. However, in comparison to them this film seems so much richer and is not just another haunted house film.
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on 24 April 2005
I bought a tale of two sisters after reading good reviews I didn't no what to expect, I found the film extremely good and has a lot of style. It's basic plot is two sisters coming home from a mental hospital after their mother dies, but as people who've seen know it's so much more, the acting is good, the visuals are great. but this is a film you have to watch twice to really see the film for what it is. based on a korean folk tale the film spins in and out of horror and suspense to a story about a disintergrated family, with the oblivous father to the volitile relashionship between the step mum and Su-mi, this is not just a horror movie, and theres the story of two sisters both depending on each other, one for protection and help and the other just needing a friend to relie on. this is a film with many different layers and meanings which you could have endless debates on. With that in mind it's not the easiest film to watch, if your one who likes your films simple this isn't the film for you, as a film it's brillient, but it is a film you actually have to watch otherwise you will easily get lost.
For anyone who likes asian films, this is a good one.
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