Love In Taipei (2023) Movie Review – Only good part of Loveboat is ruined for the sake of plot twist

Only good part of Loveboat is ruined for the sake of plot twist

Love In Taipei is a fun little YA movie based on Abigail Hing Wen’s popular book series, Loveboat, Taipei. Rom-com meets coming-of-age story as Ever Wong (Ashley Liao), a 21-year-old pre-med student who secretly wants to be a dancer is sent to a summer school in Taiwan to learn more about her culture. But the catch is that it is not a summer school her parents signed her up for, but a ‘Loveboat’ aka a big party zone.

Ever Wong must learn to let loose and enjoy the present as she is roped into a whirlwind party life courtesy of her roommate, Sophie (Chelsea Zhang). And no journey to find oneself is complete without some romance as Ever is introduced to Rick (Ross Butler), the smart Asian prodigy and Xavier (Nico Hiraga), the funny quirky guy who is rebellious and free-spirited, every Asian parent’s nightmare.

This sets up your typical love triangle – Rick, Ever and Xavier. But the action moves so fast that it does not give enough time to flesh out the characters making their interactions superficial in the beginning. There is inconsistency between each dynamic such as when Xavier is sometimes casual towards Rick but at other times the boys are jealous of each other. What is it that has Ever falling for both of them? We need more.

There is definitely potential but none of it is executed well. The second half of the story picks up only for it to be ruined by a very weird ending. Why is the focus on one lover boy for Ever to end up with the other lover boy who has basically zero screen time or interaction with the main characters despite being a main character himself? The plot very clearly fails us there. It gives viewers no reason to root for the other guy.

And without getting too much into spoiler territory, Ever and lover boy #1 were the best part of Loveboat but the writers ruin it for the sake of the plot twist.  Love In Taipei could have been in the same legacy as To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before but the makers were trying so hard to not be predictable that they mess it up spectacularly.

The direction is awkward; the moments from the book kept for fanservice don’t transition seamlessly; the pauses between each reaction make it seem that the characters are NPCs in a video game as they lag or that the editing is just not done right. Looking at the crew list, it is surprising as some really big names with good past projects are attached.

They could have just given us more of Auntie Shu, Ever’s zen and artistic aunt who has it all figured out and gives some really hard-hitting advice about living in the moment. Her first scene is the first normal moment in Love In Taipei, there’s a natural flow whenever she’s present and interacting with Ever which the rest of the movie lacks.

Yes, okay the movie has its moments if we don’t think about the cringe-inducing acting and cheesy dialogue. The soundtrack album is top tier, complete with iconic retro songs and Mandopop. It does take 30 minutes into the movie, but we also finally get to see more of Taiwan from the night market to the fan dance and the rest of its vibrant culture.

Love In Taipei also touches upon, albeit momentarily, immigration struggles and breaks the stereotype of Asian parents being hardasses, everyone has a reason. For a second, it also gives the illusion of those fun dance movies of the early 2000s where the protagonist rebels against their parents and gets into dancing. Would have probably done better if it had gone in that route…

But honestly, if there is a sequel, it needs a better director and scriptwriters. And get the cast some acting classes — we expected better from Ross Butler, Ashley Liao and Chelsea Zhang who have proven themselves before, so what went wrong? The books were everything but the first film adaptation just…falls flat. If the story piqued your interest, just read the books, we say.

Read More: Love In Taipei Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 3/10

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