Miss Shampoo (2023)

Miss Shampoo (2023)

Mobster drama meets quirky romance in this unique, though uneven, Taiwanese comedy

6.7

Movie

Taiwan
Mandarin, Thai
Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance
2023
GIDDENS KO
Bai Jing Yi, Bruce He, Chih-ju Lin
121 min

TLDR

Gangsters can be lovelorn and smitten, too, apparently.

What it's about

While practicing at night, hair salon apprentice and baseball enthusiast Fen saves wounded crime boss Tai, which leads to an unexpected set of clientele, danger from rival gangs, and the affections from said crime boss.

The take

In depictions of organized crime, we’re used to the stone-cold crime boss, and the conflicted, unwilling crime lord, but Miss Shampoo presents a new version of the gangster– one that’s fallen head over heels in love. The film plays out in hilarious ways, with the humor expected from writer-director Giddens Ko, and Daniel Hong and Vivian Sung are able to inject some heart into their performances with surprising chemistry. That being said, the film is clearly more interested in mocking organized crime, so the film feels more skewed towards Tai rather than Fen. It’s still really entertaining, though Miss Shampoo had so much more it could have shown, had it focused equally on Fen’s perspective.

What stands out

The premise of Miss Shampoo is definitely unique. It’s a cute way to poke fun at the romanticized and vilified reputations of crime lords, and it naturally leads to various wacky hijinks. The ridiculous haircuts, the advice given by fellow gangsters, and the differences in Tai and Fen’s lifestyles are already so funny, it really is a shame that it’s pulled back by too many instances of crude toilet humor. Some of these jokes make sense to the story– when Tai’s underlings pitch ideas for how to woo her, it's just the right amount of silly and raunchy– but some of the jokes feel totally irrelevant to the story at hand. These moments feel like filler, when it could have been used to flesh out their relationship, as well as Fen’s character and feelings toward the clearly dangerous man. Ultimately, that's what makes Miss Shampoo imperfect. The humor takes away attention from the title character, making the film feel uneven.

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