Monday, July 29, 2013
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
"Is it Supernatural or All in Your Head?"
A Tale of Two Sisters is a South Korean horror film made by Kim Ji-Woon (The Good, the Bad, and the Weird). While most are probably not aware of this film, they might by aware of it's 2009 remake The Uninvited starring Emily Browning. If you've seen the American remake, almost everything is the same, with the exception of a real sinister supernatural element to the film. Su-Mi (Lim Soo-Jung) and Su-Yeon (Moon Geun-Young) come home from a mental institute and return to their father and his new wife, Eun Joo (Yum Jung-Ah).
The two girls do not take too kindly to their step-mother. At the same time, the step mother begins to see some sort of apparition while having a dinner party when one of her guests has a seizure. After that, the step-mother and Su-Mi become hostile to one another until it hits the breaking point.
I felt that the Yum Jung-Ah did a much better job as the wicked step mother in this version than Elizabeth Banks did in the remake. That real feeling of hatred towards Su-Mi felt more convincing. The odd thing is that when the inevitable twist comes in the plot, there's still a good half hour left in the film where the supernatural element comes into play again. This felt jumbled and ultimately not needed, even if it's justified in the final moments in the film before the end credits start to roll. Other than that; I give the film a 4/5.
I have some bad news and I got some even worse news. Bad news is that the film was shot on 35mm in a format called VistaVision which is a very out-dated method of filming that was dropped in the late 1970's. The worse news is that this video quality is pretty bad. I believe this might have been an SD master, not a DVD master mind you, blown up to HD for this Blu-ray. It is a 1080i transfer and it more or less shows throughout the film and even at the end. The interlacing gets bad pretty much during the last half hour of the film. Also, the image is jagged pretty much in every shot.
Also, from what I guess is the problem with VistaVision filming is that the film has this horizontal wobble in a lot of the shots. This wobble oddly reminds me of how the video looked on my own film that I shot with a cheap 720p camera. It looks like this throughout. That's nothing to blame Palisades Tartan for, as a matter of fact, I don't think PT had anything to do with this master.
From what I've seen with films made in Asia, the preservation has not been kind. Look at the masters on the Jackie Chan films from Fortune Star. The review I wrote on the South Korean film Into the Mirror, which was made the same year as A Tale of Two Sisters. Even though Into the Mirror was just on DVD in my Mirrors 2 review, it's visual presentation was atrocious as well. I do not believe that a lot of Asian countries had the means to preserve films in high definition at that time in the early 2000's. And it would also cost a lot of money to go back and rescan these films in HD. For that, this might turn people away from buying this release for this fact alone, 2/5.
Palisades Tartan has given A Tale of Two Sisters two different Korean audio tracks; DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The audio, unlike the video, is fantastic. I couldn't find no real complaints with it. Sound effects sound nice and clear. Dialogue sounds crisp and not muted or subdued. I really enjoyed the audio. 5/5.
Creating a Tale of Two Sisters is a twenty-four minute behind the scenes making of the film. From the first impressesions of viewing this extra, the quality looked as if it were something ripped off of Youtube. The video 4:3 with black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. Technical specs aside, for what it was, it was informative of the behind the scenes process of how shots are put together and how the crew are basically moving around as the shots are being done. I like it, but, the original U.S. DVD by Palisades Tartan was two discs with lots of bonus material. None of that is present here. I give the extras portions of the film 1.5/5.
Despite the video quality and extras aside, did anyone also notice the spelling error on the "Copytight" warning on the first screen? Even though I am giving this release a 3/5, I do not know if I can honestly recommend this U.K. Blu-ray. I think if you have all ready gotten rid of your DVD copy and you do have a region free player, I'd go for it. This title in particular went for a very high price around $30 U.S. dollars. I managed to pick this up from my favorite Swiss store Grooves Inc for $11 U.S. dollars. For that price or any lower price, go for it. 3/5.