Dark Feathers: Dance Of The Geisha Image

Dark Feathers: Dance Of The Geisha

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | July 11, 2024

The fangs are out as the heels hit the floor in the samurai ballroom thriller Dark Feathers: Dance of the Geisha, co-directed by Crystal J. Huang with Nicholas Ryan. The movie opens on a roof in San Francisco, with Kate (Crystal J. Huang) informing a man who gave up everything for her that she is finished being his lover. By the time she exits the building, he hits the pavement. Ex-detective Remy (Gilles Marini) is brain-picked by his ex-partner James (Scott Lea) over the case, giving him a gander at a photo of Kate.

Remy attends the ballroom dancing class his wife Amelia (Karina Smirnoff) teaches, where he is surprised to see the same Kate from the homicide picture. He is filled in that Kate is a wonderful dancer but cannot keep a regular ballroom partner, as they all keep dying. Remy can’t wait to start dancing with Kate and maybe even win the big contest. Maybe he would have been more careful if he had had an inkling of the ancient practices that Kate follows. Or about her shadow life in an underworld kingdom overseen by Princess Edo (Lan Kay) and Kensei (Michael Madsen), the white samurai.

Star Huang wrote the story for Dark Feathers: Dance of the Geisha with Jin Yao, who wrote the screenplay with contributions from Daniel Benton. Everyone involved in forming this maverick narrative deserves a round of applause. There is a delicious white-hot tingle behind the forehead when, during a movie, you suddenly realize you have a rule breaker on your hands.

First, the idea of combining samurai culture and ballroom dancing in the same picture is brilliant. The alchemy of butch and femme interests results in indie date night gold. Second, it creates an explosive moment of such depravity that it will get anyone’s attention, with the word spreading like wildfire. It isn’t even something you can see, as it is the pristine crunching sound effect during the show-stopping scene. It’s the scene where a woman cracks a walnut open with her twiddle.

“…Kate is a wonderful dancer but cannot keep a regular ballroom partner, as they all keep dying.”

Lastly, there is a renegade attitude in the story structure where people who are not supposed to die do, and boy, is it in some interesting places. I counted three surprising “F**k Yeah” moments along the way, which is two more than some of the best movies out there. Ditto for the lesbian elements, as there are some peppers in this sauce.

The look of the opening credits, as well as the PG-13 treatment of the material, give Dark Feathers: Dance of the Geisha the initial impression of a TV melodrama. Good. Melodrama attacks boredom like a mongoose on a cobra. Melodrama is speed metal compared to drama’s yacht rock, so a film should wear it like a badge of defiance. No matter how it is packaged, in the end, it means a high-voltage thriller.

If you question whether this production has enough balls for you, take a gander at the genius casting of Madsen as a white samurai. He maintains that ritual cool air while rocking the s**t out of that samurai suit. This, along with his turn in Christmas Thieves, shows Madsen’s pop culture spire continues to climb.

Smirnoff is pure joy, knowing how to blast her way through high-volume emotions. And she dances, too! But this is Huang’s vehicle, and she drives it like a Stinger in launch mode. Huang’s the perfect femme fatale of the future, giving a master class in exuding that love you can die from. She also gets to parade a fierce armory of fantastic fashions. Huang’s dresses alone make this imperative watching.

Dark Feathers: Dance of the Geisha will ruffle your feathers in the most delightful way.

Dark Feathers: Dance of the Geisha (2024)

Directed: Crystal J. Huang, Nicholas Ryan

Written: Jin Yao, Crystal J. Huang, Daniel Benton

Starring: Crystal J. Huang, Gilles Marini, Karina Smirnoff, Michael Madsen, Lan Kay, Scott Lea, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Dark Feathers: Dance of the Geisha Image

"…Huang's the perfect femme fatale of the future..."

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