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A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Janghwa, Hongryeon (original title)
A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.


(as Kim Jee-woon)


(screenplay) (as Kim Jee-woon)
4,213 ( 153)

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22 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Woo Ki-Hong ...
Dae-yeon Lee ...
Su-mi's Doctor
Seung-bi Lee ...
Park Mi-Hyun ...
Mrs. Bae (Su-mi's and Su-yeon's Mother)


Two sisters who, after spending time in a mental institution, return to the home of their father and cruel stepmother. Once there, in addition to dealing with their stepmother's obsessive and unbalanced ways, an interfering ghost also affects their recovery. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Our sorrow was conceived long before our birth See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 June 2003 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

A Tale of Two Sisters  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$94,923 (Hong Kong) (22 August 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


On August 24, 2013, the tenth anniversary of this movie was held at the cinematheque KOFA in South Korea. See more »


In the hospital scenes, there is no scar on the back of Su-mi's hand. See more »


Eun-ju: As much as you hate it, I'm the only one in this world you can call mother, got it?
See more »


Version of Janghwa Hongryeonjeon (1972) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Masterpiece In A Sea of Faux "Masterpieces"
21 July 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This review is long overdue, since I consider A Tale of Two Sisters to be the single greatest film ever made. I'll put this gem up against any movie in terms of screenplay, cinematography, acting, post-production, editing, directing, or any other aspect of film-making. It's practically perfect in all of them – a true masterpiece in a sea of faux "masterpieces."

The structure of this film is easily the most tightly constructed in the history of cinema. I can think of no other film where something vitally important occurs every other minute. Quite literally, Ji-woon Kim seems to have made a movie that practically taunts the viewer to dissect it on the most detailed of levels. A seemingly insignificant object may be shown – a rack of dresses, two diaries, a drop of blood emanating from a floor crack, a bottle of pills, etc. – but upon meticulous inspection turns out to be so much more – a clue that helps to make sense of that particular scene (or perhaps the movie in total), which almost always contributes a stirring reflection upon the psychological concepts that lurk in the background until the viewer's intelligence prompts them to spring to the forefront. Such an event might occur a handful of times during any other movie, but in A Tale of Two Sisters such events occur in such a rapid-fire, relentless fashion that the viewer must watch the film in a perpetual state of alertness, lest they miss something important. In other words, the content level of this film is enough to easily fill a dozen other films. How can anyone in their right mind ask for anything more from a movie than this? It's quite simply the highest, most superlative form of cinema imaginable.

The most commonly cited criticism of A Tale of Two Sisters is nicely summarized by Zaphod B Goode, who falsely claims that the story is an incoherent, unresolved mess that uses confusion to instill a false sense of intelligence because it does not provide a final set of facts underlying the intriguing questions. He posits that Ji-woon Kim tossed up a dozen possible explanations and left it at that. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth. A Tale of Two Sisters provides a series of unassailably objective facts that help the viewer to identify the EXACT occurrences of each and every scene of the film. If our good friend Zaphod had been paying attention, he would have noticed – for example – the series of obvious flashbacks which provide enough factual information to make sense of the film. These flashbacks convincingly contradict Zaphod's assertion of complete subjectivity. The objective elements of A Tale of Two Sisters are so obvious to anyone willing to see them that the mere assertion of a lack of objectivity can only call into question the patience of a viewer who apparently does not want to put forth even the slightest effort whatsoever to see them. Can Ji-woon Kim really be faulted for the impatience of viewers who lack the desire to understand his film? I think not.

Please note that I will not insult the intelligence of critics such as Zaphod that cannot "get" A Tale of Two Sisters, because it really has nothing to do with a lack of intelligence as much as a lack of persistence. The movie spells itself out so effectively that the only possible explanation for confusion is a lack of effort on the part of the viewer. Yes, this film does require a rather significant amount of puzzle-solving, but the pieces fit together to create a beautiful picture. You need only put them together. Remember, the screenplay was written by someone with the picture already in mind – he simply separated the pieces and placed them skillfully throughout for the purpose of providing a magnificent cerebral exercise that – when completed – bestows an ultimate form of satisfaction and state of awe.

Don't misunderstand me. There are films that seem to start with an incomplete picture and try to create a puzzle that is insoluble by design. Spider Forest (2004), Perfect Blue (1998) and Donnie Darko (2001) are perfect examples of this. A Tale of Two Sisters is not. It's ironic that Zaphod claims Darko to be more masterfully constructed than A Tale of Two Sisters, especially considering that Darko not only provides almost NO objective facts but also a twist ending that is the quintessential deus ex machina cliché that could be dropped at the end of any movie ever made in order to provide the ultimate in faux intelligence. I'm ashamed of myself for mentioning the two films in the same sentence, but the contrast is an important one. Although it does perplex me that Zaphod would cite a movie that crumbles when exposed to even the slightest intellectual effort as a way of criticizing a film that only becomes discernible thru a significant application of intellectual effort. He apparently likes his "intelligent" films in the most superficial form possible. This is evident when he makes 17 consecutive questions in his review that are answered quite convincingly by the film itself. Just read the threads by Opiemar within the IMDb A Tale of Two Sisters Discussion Forum. Anyone who carefully reads those threads and still asserts a lack of an objective solution to this film may as well stop watching intelligent films altogether because the answers are so damned OBVIOUS.

I'd like to say more, but I've come to my 1,000 word limit. All that has been said here needed to be said. So be it now said!

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