Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

A Tale of Two Sisters

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Kap-su Kim as Bae Moo-hyeon (Father)
Jung-ah Yum as Eun-joo (Stepmother)
Su-jeong Lim as Bae Soo-mi (Janghwa)
Geun-yeong Mun as Bae Soo-yeon (Hongryeon)

Special Features:
Commentary with Director, Cinematographer and Lighting Director

Commentary with Director and Stars

Hidden Feature: A Letter from Su-yeon

Behind the Scenes

Cast Interviews

Deleted Scenes

Post Production Documentaries

To The Viewer Director's Analysis

Psychiatrist's Perspective

Hidden Feature: A Letter from Su-mi

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby 2.0 Mono Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 19 Hours 33 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is from South Korea and was originally released in 2003. It is based on the Korean folk tale "Rose and Lotus". The following is from the DVD cover:

"Something strange is happening when Su-mi and her younger sister, Su-yeon, come home to their father's large but dark and somewhat foreboding house after a stay in the hospital. Their dad is taciturn and burdened, and their stepmother, Eun-joo, greets them with forced enthusiasm and more than a little sense of irritation. But that's nothing compared to what happens when bedtime rolls around.

Stylish and shocking, this visually arresting tale of family secrets and uncertain realities is based on a traditional Korean folktale. Guaranteed to have you gasping for breath with each successive scare. You'll be kept guessing until the very end of this unique and brilliant film."

A Tale of Two Sisters is not rated.

The Movie:
Despite my best efforts to follow the film, A Tale of Two Sisters lost me on numerous occasions. Twenty minutes into the film I still hadn't figured out who the characters were, what their relationships were, or what was going on. Later on, just when I had it figured out, it took a major twist that lost me again. When I thought I had that figured out, it took two more big twists so that, by the end, I was pretty confused. I'm still not entirely sure what the movie was about. I can't get into details without ruining the movie, but suffice it to say that it may take repeated viewings and keen concentration to follow it. But because I couldn't follow it, it took a bit of enjoyment of the movie away from me.

Despite the confusing plot, A Tale of Two Sisters is a beautifully shot film. The sets and props are first rate. They are packed with detail that helps add to the creepy atmosphere of the house. There are also quite a few camera tricks and angles that help add greatly to the suspense. That is another thing that this movie has going for it. When it aims to scare you or disturb you, it does so well. Scenes with a ghost girl will totally freak you out. The movie seems to tap into childhood fears of monsters under furniture or spooks creeping through a sleeping house. For scares, this movie delivers.

The acting is pretty good. Jung-ah Yum is noteworthy as Eun-joo, the evil stepmother of this tale. Her thinly veiled disgust with the girls is well played. Su-jeong Lim is bold and simultaneously disturbed as Bae Soo-mi, the older sister. Geun-yeong Mun is also good as Bae Soo-yeon, the younger and meeker of the sisters. Finally you have Kap-su Kim as Bae Moo-hyeon, the weak and reserved father of the girls.

I think if you're into horror or psychological thrillers and you're looking for something out of the ordinary, then A Tale of Two Sisters will deliver. But don't expect it to be straightforward or even completely understandable by the conclusion.

The Extras:
This DVD is jam packed with bonus features which can be found on the second disc. Here are some of the highlights:

Behind the Scenes This is an extensive behind the scenes feature that covers the making of the movie. They discuss the plot, the advance storyboarding, the sets, and more. There are your standard interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage, and more.

Cast Interviews All of the major cast is interviewed by the director himself. It's informal and the discussion becomes quite candid. The director is also interviewed and gives his thoughts on critical reaction to the film and more.

Deleted Scenes There are a ton of deleted scenes, but most of them are quite short. The director provides commentary over them. There's even an alternate ending to the film that shows one of the characters committing suicide.

Post Production Documentaries There are a few brief featurettes on the CGI used in the film, the music, the art direction, and more. They even talk about the making of the movie poster. You start getting a great appreciation for their attention to detail as you view these. (I found it funny that the art director was able to speak of high level themes of the design of the film while wearing a Wolverine shirt.)

The Bottom Line:
Despite being scary and featuring fantastic cinematography, A Tale of Two Sisters is quite hard to follow. Don't watch this unless you're OK with not necessarily being able to follow what's going on.

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