Janghwa, Hongryeon – A TALE OF TWO SISTERS – The Dungeon Review!

a tale of two sisters“Our sorrow was conceived long before our birth.”

I absolutely love the cover of this DVD. Granted, covers of dvd’s can be exceptionally misleading but I think this one represents the work quite well. I was left a comment in my “Suggestions and recommendations” section about ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’. I had seen the film a few years back and enjoyed it immensely. Yesterday I posted a review for the film ‘The Heirloom’ distributed through Tartan Asia Extreme. The film was a disappointment, so it seemed liked a good time to follow up with a Tartan entry I found to be outstanding.

Based on an old Korean Fairytale, ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ is about two young sisters who are sent home to recover from a stay in the hospital. The girls are confronted with Strange and frightenging occurrences and uncertain and harsh realities and receive no sympathy from their cold and distant father or their ill-tempered stepmother. A haunting tale full of twists and turns with surprises around every corner that will keep you guessing right up to the final credits.

It is impossible to talk about this film without giving something away. The intricate story is a complex mystery that is as much a drama full of intense emotion, as it is a psychological thriller and ghost story. Like my plot summary suggests, there are multiple twists and turns in this film. Not only did it keep me guessing, but its ending actually surprised me. It is a rare thing when I am genuinely surprised! The film has a relatively slow pace, which might scare away some genre fans. I found the slow but even pace extremely effective here. The mood throughout the strange and intricate tale is bloody brilliant. It is a walk through beautiful landscapes on a fine bed of pins and needles. Speaking of beautiful landscapes, the cinematography is outstanding, light is used to great effect, and the set is amazing. The massive rambling family home is breath-taking and spooky as hell! The soundtrack also adds much to the feel of the film. Equally impressive is the quality of acting.
still from a tale of two sisters
The cast are perfect and all deliver performances that are believable and memorable. Visually and technically speaking, the film is without flaw. If you are looking for gore or cheap scares, you will definitely want to look elsewhere. ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ is very “story-motivated”. It is a puzzle worth solving, and when you do, you will be sweetly rewarded. The only real criticism I have is a minor detection of Japanese influence. But the borrowing is definitely minor and the film in its entirety feels fresh, new and original. The only other comment I can add is there is so much to take in, you may want to watch it twice. There were little details that we felt we missed, or didn’t fully comprehend, so we actually re-watched it the next day. Both my husband and I found nuances and hints that we had missed the first viewing. I don’t think this should be considered a negative, if you are about to watch a subtitled film than you have already dedicated yourself to a certain amount of focus and brain function. Sadly, the film has been remade under the title “UNINVITED” which is a ball-less, American “PG” version of this amazing film. My advice is to avoid it like the plague. ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ is one of my personal favorite Korean films, and I think it will hit all the right notes with others who are fans of foreign horror that is more psychological in nature. Highly Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Ji-woon Kim

Starring: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim and Geun-Young Moon

9 Responses to “Janghwa, Hongryeon – A TALE OF TWO SISTERS – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Yeah the movie that just came out in theaters awhile ago The Uninvited was a direct remake of this film and not even that crap could tarnish this films following. Great stuff all around. You did a good job not spoiling as much as alot of reviews I read on this film because its hard to touch base on without ruining too much of the story.

  2. I saw this film back in Grade 11 (it’s still my favourite Korean film up to now) and all I can remember is the terrific performance by the cast. In fact, I’ve never seen a cast delivering such a believable performance when it comes to playing characters who are disturbed.

  3. I didn’t really get into this one and I got lost watching it. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that I wasn’t getting it. Maybe it is something you’ve got to watch more than once to really appreciate it.

  4. I liked this one alot too. When I first saw it, back in 03/04 or thereabouts, the asian horror craze as just really hitting here in the U.S. I think due to the (then) unique style of the film’s structure and the overall creepiness soaked into every detail, I actually found it to be an unsettling experience.

    Funny about The Uninvited–I sat there slackjawed for about 15 minutes watching it at Blockbuster( it was playing on one of the televisions) and I never for a moment got the impression it was based on this one at all.


  5. heloooooooooooooooo every one here am crazy about korea drama and a wach every movies of korea just “atale of two sisters” so please tell my for any chanel this movie thank yooooooooooooooooooooo

  6. dont worry i will share this movie to all my best friends,
    specially on friendster, friends,
    cause i am going crazy to……!–

  7. […] I’ve Seen:  The Quiet Family (1998), The Foul King (2000),  A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), A Bittersweet Life (2005), The Good the Bad the Weird (2008),  I Saw the Devil […]

  8. […] His spectacular A Bittersweet Life, the gritty I Saw the Devil, the beautiful and haunting A Tale of Two Sisters, the quirky The Good, The Bad and The Weird and The Foul King; the man can do no wrong in my book. […]

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