Monday, September 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Genre : Horror, Thriller, Tragedy, Mystery, Drama.
Language : Korean
Country : South Korea
Cast : Su-Jeong Lim, Moon Geun Young, Jung-Ah Yum.
Directed by : Kim Ji-Woon
Run Time : 115 min
Release Date : 13th June, 2003

Synopsis :
“A Tale of Two Sisters” (Korean: Janghwa, Hongryeon a.k.a Changhwa, Hongnyŏ; Literally means, "Rose Flower, Red Lotus") is a 2003 South Korean psychological horror film directed by Kim Ji-Woon. The film is inspired by a Joseon Dynasty folktale entitled "Janghwa Hongreyon-jon", which has been adapted to film several times.
Director Kim Ji-Woon’s “A Tale of Two Sisters” has been hailed as one of the best Asian horror films of recent years, and has been snapped up by the Hollywood machine for a Western release and pointless remake. Although the plot and central premise may at first sound suspiciously familiar, and though Asian ghost stories are rapidly outstaying their welcome, the film succeeds not so much through its supernatural aspects, but rather its fascinating psychological examination of grief and sadness!

Plot :
The film begins with Su-Mi being brought to a psychiatrist. She is unresponsive until a picture of her family is shown in front of her. She is taken home by her father, Moo-Hyeon, along with her timid sister, Su-Yeon. There, they are met by their difficult stepmother, Eun-Joo.

That night Su-Yeon awakes to find somebody in her room and she flees to her sister. Su-Mi promises Su-Yeon that she will always be there for her and they fall asleep.

Su-Mi awakens after a nightmare to find that Su-Yeon has begun her period, as has her stepmother, on the very same day. The girls look at some old photos, which reveal that Eun-Joo was a doctor and a co-worker of Moo-Hyeon. Su-Mi sees bruises on Su-Yeon's arms and accuses Eun-Joo.

At dinner with guests (Eun-Joo's brother, Sun-Kyu, and his wife), Eun-Joo acts strangely. During dinner, Sun-Kyu's wife begins to choke and convulse on the floor. After they leave, Eun-Joo investigates around, only to be startled by a hand that reaches out as she tries to pick up a pin.

Eun-Joo insists that strange events have become frequent since Su-Mi and Su-Yeon returned. Her pet bird is slain and found in Su-Yeon's bed. In a rage, she locks Su-Yeon in the wardrobe, and after Su-Yeon is freed, Moo-Hyeon asks Su-Mi why she is making trouble.

Su-Mi insists that the stepmother harasses Su-Yeon, locking her in the closet. Moo-Hyeon informs her that Su-Yeon is dead, and that she is not getting better. The scene ends with Su-Yeon emotionally screaming.

Su-Mi wakes to find her sister missing and believes she sees her stepmother dragging around a bloody bag through the corridors of the house and beating it. Su-Mi runs to the kitchen to grab scissors to free her sister but Eun-Joo attempts to stop her by splashing boiling water from the kettle onto her. A fight ensues and Su-Mi is rendered unconscious.

Moo-Hyeon returns home to find an injured Su-Mi, however all evidence is suspiciously gone as are the stepmother and bag.

The scene shifts, Su-Mi is now shown as the stepmother. She looks up in surprise, and the camera rotates to show the real stepmother, standing in the door way, looking sympathetic. When the camera turns around again, Su-Mi is back where she was. All memories flash through her mind that gives evidence of her illness.

It is revealed that all along Su-Yeon really has been dead, and the stepmother was absent. Su-Mi was acting as the stepmother and imagining her sister throughout the film because of a severe dissociative identity disorder.

Su-Mi then flashes back to a time when Eun-Joo was a live-in nurse caring for the girls' sick mother. The girls sense that Eun-Joo and Moo-Hyeon are flirting. Su-Mi displays her disapproval toward Eun-Joo, who in turn takes her anger out on Su-Yeon. Su-Yeon, then returns to her room and collapses on her bed in tears. Su-Yeon's mother is shown trying to comfort her as she too starts crying.

The flashback ends, and the stepmother sits alone in the quiet home. A noise comes from Su-Yeon's room. When she investigates, the wardrobe opens and from it crawls out the ghost, presumably of either Su-Yeon or her mother. The scene ends ambiguously with a scream.

The flashback picks up again from when Su-Yeon had fallen asleep, with her waking up and discovering her dead mother inside her wardrobe, who had hanged herself with an article of clothing. Terrified, Su-Yeon shakes the body and screams. A bottle of pills drops and spills open, while Su-Yeon accidentally pulls the wardrobe down on top of herself, causing her to scream again.

Various people in the house hear the bang, but not the scream. Out of everyone, only Eun-Joo (the nurse and future stepmother) goes to investigate. She discovers Su-Yeon screaming for help and clawing at the wardrobe. Eun-Joo leaves rather than helping Su-Yeon, but then changes her mind and heads back for the scene. En route, she passes Su-Mi coming out of her room to investigate the noise. An argument starts between Eun-Joo and Su-Mi. During the argument, Su-Yeon is shown whimpering under the wardrobe.

After the argument, when Su-Mi tries to leave the house, Eun-Joo stops her. Eun-Joo advises her to go and investigate the noise, warning Su-Mi that she might regret it if she doesn't. Su-Mi dismisses the warning as nonsense and angrily marches out of the house. Outside, Su-Mi passes Moo-Hyeon, who was going to investigate. Moo-Hyeon assumes that the noise was Su-Mi's, and he ends up not entering the house.

The scene switches back to Su-Yeon crying out for Su-Mi's help, because Eun-Joo decided not to go back and help her. Su-Yeon continues clawing at the wardrobe until she eventually dies. Outside the house, Su-Mi turns back long enough to exchange angry stares with Eun-Joo, who is standing on the balcony. The film ends with Su-Mi continuing to walk away from the house, but stopping to pause and think.

As the credits scroll, an image is shown of Su-Mi sitting on the dock by the pond. She is in the same outfit as in an earlier scene: The day she had come home and had done the same with Su-Yeon. However, this time, Su-Mi is sitting alone!

“The Uninvited” (2009), is an American remake of this Korean thriller drama starring ‘Emily Browning’ as Anna Ivers (Su-Mi), and ‘Arielle Kebbel’ as Alex Ivers (Su-Yeong).

Cast :
■ Su-Jeong Lim - Bae Soo-Mi (Janghwa)
■ Moon Geun-Young - Bae Soo-Yeon (Hongryeon) 
■ Jung-Ah Yum - Eun-Joo (Step Mother) 
■ Kap-Su Kim - Bae Moo-Hyeon (Father)

Awards :
1. It won the 2003 Blue Dragon Award for the Best New Actress – Su-Jeong Lim.
2. It won the New Currents Award for the Best New Actress - Su-Jeong Lim at the Pusan International Film Festival in 2003. 
3. It won the Festival Trophy for the Best Picture at the Screamfest Awards in 2003. 
4. It won the Silver Raven Award for the Best Supporting Actress – Jung-Ah Yum at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film in 2004. 
5. It won the Most Popular Film Award at the Fant-Asia Film Festival in 2004. 
6. It won the International Fantasy Film Award for the Best Film, Best Director & Best Actress – Su-Jeong Lim at the Fantasporto Awards in 2004. 
7. It won the Orient Express Section Special Jury Award at the Fantasporto Awards in 2004. 
8. It won the Grand Prize, Prix 13ème Rue & Youth Jury Grand Prize at the Gérardmer Film Festival in 2004. 
9. It was nominated at the 2003 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival for the Best Film. 
10. It was nominated at the 2006 Chlotrudis Awards for the Best Supporting Actress – Jung-Ah Yum.

Ratings : = 7.4/10; = 7.2/10
[Source : Wikipedia, IMDB, RottenTomatoes, HanCinema, BeyondHollywood]

Gallery :

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