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Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters) (2003)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 59
Fresh: 50 | Rotten: 9

Restrained but disturbing, A Tale of Two Sisters is a creepily effective, if at times confusing, horror movie.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 3

Restrained but disturbing, A Tale of Two Sisters is a creepily effective, if at times confusing, horror movie.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 32,409

My Rating

Movie Info

This supernatural horror film from Kim Jee-woon is inspired by the ancient Korean folktale "Jangha and Hongryun." Set in an isolated lakeside house, it begins with two young girls, Su-mi (Im Su-jung) and Su-yeon (Mun Geun-yeong), returning home after a period of hospitalization following the death of their mother. In the meantime, their father Mu-Hyun (Kim Gab-su) has married Eun-joo (Yeom Jeong-ah), whom the girls obviously despise. Strange, violent visions begin to disturb Su-mi and she

Mar 29, 2005

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All Critics (59) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (9) | DVD (12)

The atmosphere of mounting dread is matched by just-right performances, design and camerawork.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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The film feels haunted by the relationship between Im and Moon, who cling to each other in the face of a hostile hostess, even though that may not be their best option.

September 26, 2005 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
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There's a reason why Hollywood has been so busy in recent years remaking Asian horror movies. Scare for scare, they're generally better.

February 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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It may not be a pretty picture, but A Tale of Two Sisters is definitely a satisfying piece of less-is-more cinematic horror.

January 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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The gorgeous slow-moving cinematography by Lee Mogae is remarkable.

January 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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The film seems unnecessarily vague on a rational level, but it's spot-on as a psychological study of a twinlike sibling relationship, and the ways in which memory can suppress trauma and soothe a mourning soul.

January 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

How much you appreciate the film will largely depend on how effective you feel its big revelation is.

November 14, 2013 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

...boasts a suffocating atmosphere and a disjointed storyline that turns the screws on your nerves while leaving you to puzzle over the plot

April 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

It's truly a masterpiece in the end.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Kim Ji-woon's psychological skin-chiller painstakingly teases apart the traumas that bind a widower, his teen daughters... and his high-strung second wife in a suffocating web of guilt, suspicion and fear. The American remake, The Uninvited (2009), pales

March 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Miss FlickChick
Miss FlickChick

Kim Jee-Woon's serious approach has its merits, but it also creates some problems that mar, without ruining, the film's effectiveness.

July 9, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter

A very tasty exercise in supernatural and psychological horror.

September 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

Despite its third-act problems, A Tale of Two Sisters easily passes the scare test.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

This is a carefully structured film about grief and guilt, as well as horror. They don't resolve every disturbing moment or confusing element: they leave some questions hauntingly unanswered.

January 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

I like what it's trying to do -- use a ghost story surface to tell a tale of guilt, blame, and madness -- but was disappointed in the conventional tactics it used.

January 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

This movie scared the hell out of me!

April 12, 2005 Full Review

...yet another pointless, interminably paced Asian horror flick that's inexplicably garnered heaps of praise and adulation...

March 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comments (14)
Reel Film Reviews

There's more rank dread and inscrutable mystery in any one scene of this South Korean psychological thriller than in all the American horror films of the past 10 years.

March 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Well-tread territory.

March 9, 2005 Full Review Source:

Even at its most maddening and cute, the elaborate interplay between hallucination and reality rewards attention.

February 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Even though its components may be familiar, it is made with precision and sophistication and is, by default, better than any original American horror film of the past few years.

February 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Writer/director Ji-woon Kim leaps to the forefront of Asian horror with this brilliantly executed psychological nightmare.

February 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

May move a bit slowly for American tastes, and the inexplicable bits may occasionally frustrate, but you slip into the rhythms of the film almost despite yourself.

February 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Audience Reviews for Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters)

Unfolding like a Grimm fairy tale channeled through David Lynch, A Tale of Two Sisters is dreamlike, haunting, and thought provoking. Some of its plot points are disjointed. but the film works overall as a ghost story mixed with psychological thriller.
May 18, 2014

Super Reviewer

March 26, 2014
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Although based on ancient Korean folktale "Jangha and Hongryun", A Tale of Two Sisters feels like a mixture of other films of the genres from that part of the world, such as The Eye, The Grudge and Audition (No, I'm not going to lazily say The Ring as it wasn't like it at all). As stylish as it is, the twist ending isn't enough of a payoff for having to watch an hour of not much going on. It has its moments here and there but they are too far and few between and a little predictable. I'm a bit disappointed to tell the truth, maybe because I was expecting something special but it does look good and is still worth a punt.
April 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

The original South Korean movie that The Uninvited, an American horror movie from a few years ago, was based on. Both movies are about two sisters who have a very antagonistic relationship with their stepmother, who was once a nurse charged with the care of their sick (and now dead) mother, and was the catalyst for a tragic event that happened in their lives.

A Tale of Two Sisters has much more of a supernatural element than The Uninvited, which is a more straight-forward movie. The endings are very different, as well. Which one you prefer probably will depend on how much "psychological" you like in your psychological horror. A Tale of Two Sisters takes the concept seriously and may confuse the viewer a bit along the way, but it all ties together neatly in the end. I liked the movie, but it probably would have had more of an impact on me if I had seen it back when it was first released in 2003, or at least before I had most of the story spoiled from watching The Uninvited.
August 23, 2011

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Zwei Schwestern (DE)
  • A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa Hongryeon) (2004) (UK)
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