First Impressions on Ring Ring Bell with Janine Chang and Peter Ho

Sunday nights in Taiwan is set for the next two months or so, with Office Girls, In Time With You, and now Ring Ring Bell all premiering one after another and in it for the long haul of head-to-head competition. I don’t think the current rankings will change at all during its run, with perhaps some minor up and down, with OG getting the ratings love, ITWY garnering a devoted niche audience with critical acclaim, and RRB being this oddball of the group. After watching episode 1 of RRB, I’m really torn about the drama. I loved parts of it (really really loved it), but as a whole it doesn’t quite gell properly.

Some notable first impressions are that Janine Chang just officially broke out of her typical acting style limitations and produced a breakthrough performance AND Peter Ho is has officially made me eat my words on how I used to find him grody. He is not grody at all in RRB, he’s is so swoonworthy I’m doing double-takes constantly. From the Director who did My Queen and Zhong Wu Yen, RRB is a drama I like enough to keep watching, but really don’t know how I feel about it as a whole just yet.

RRB tells the story of Zheng Xiao Xiang (Janine Chang), a completely average 20 year old girl living in 2003 during a time when there is an outbreak of an airborne flu strain called CIV (echoes of the SARS scare). An elevator malfunction, which leads to the first of many cute interactions between Xiao Xiang and a photographer named Ren Jia Kai (Peter Ho), lands Xiao Xiang in quarantine with the illness.

Xiao Xiang and Jia Kai are clearly interested in each other, but a series of missed opportunities allows a chance of a romance between them to pass them by. Xiao Xiang ends up dating Wang Ke Jian (Xiu Jie Ke) another man who saved her that day, a happy relationship that nevertheless goes South after 7 years of an extended engagement buckling under the strain of raising an adopted baby girl, the orphan of Ke Jian’s respected college senior.

Ke Jian walks out on Xiao Xiang and their adopted daughter Duo Duo, him being a man who isn’t cruel or shallow inasmuch as he’s ultimately selfish. Xiao Xiang finds herself having wasted the prime years of her life on a relationship that has no payoff while losing her vibrancy on the exhaustion of child rearing. Xiao Xiang goes to get a name change at the government administration office on the same day Jia Kai and his wife arrive there to finalize their divorce.

They run into each other outside, with neither in a good mood with their current personal woes. Xiao Xiang is the first to recognize Jia Kai, though her worn down look doesn’t ring a bell with him just yet. But Jia Kai finds himself at witnessing firsthand the devastation of Xiao Xiang and her daughter getting rejected by ex-fiancee Ke Jian outside a hotel room, leading him to extend a helping hand. Now that 7 years and two failed relationships are behind them, can Xiao Xiang and Jia Kai finally get a chance with each other?

I enjoyed episode 1 of RRB because of the potential I see. The chemistry between Janine and Peter is incredible: charming, intense, and heady. I like his character a lot, whereas I like how Janine plays her character even if I don’t like Xiao Xiang’s personality all that much. I think the acting by the two leads really carry this show, which falters on story and set up, with an execution that is fast but not memorable.

Every OTP interaction is golden, from their first elevator meeting when both are wearing face masks, to 7 years later when Jia Kai finds Xian Xiang again when she is literally at the lowest point in her life, having just watched her ex-fiancee in a hotel room with another woman as he closes the door in her face. Every scene with Xiao Xiang and Jia Kai is memorable and emotional, whether it’s lighthearted or very intense. I don’t recall seeing such immediate OTP combustion onscreen in recent memory.

Janine tends to have a very reserved line delivery. Even when she plays more animated and spunky characters, such as her Yong Yong in Sunny Happiness, she still retains this slight aloofness that I’ve always associated with her. That’s why she always gets typecasted as the ice-queen character. Her Xiao Xiang is the first time Janine has truly broken out of her typecast and I’m thrilled to see her so overwrought at times it’s heartbreaking to watch.

Peter Ho finally erases all traces of smirky smarminess that he always gives off in role after role, turning in a performance that is all sorts of wonderful. He’s warm and affecting, the character of Jia Kai made more interesting because Peter brings him to life in a way that feels genuine. I know this is starting to sound redundant, but I’m really impressed with Peter’s performance so far, my being impressed taking on even greater significance considering how much I used to loathe him.

The fact that Peter’s mindblowing physique is on front-and-center display in RRB from the first episode makes me laugh at the blatant fan service, even whilst I stare slack jawed at his, uhm, chest muscles. W.O.W. No wonder Janine can’t keep a straight face when discussing the constant exposure of Peter’s naked torso in a variety of scenes. Peter also mentioned this is the drama where he has the most kissing scenes ever done, so that is yet another reason to tune in. Yes, why lie and pretend that I don’t also have a completely shallow reason to watch RRB.

I’m pretty underwhelmed with the directing for this drama, which is just okay, with some really choppy editing throughout the first episode. Sadly it’s OST is also equally disappointing, which is quite a critical weakness since many a TW-drama has used a sterling OST and scoring to soften the rough edges around a mediocre story or acting. RRB doesn’t have a single song or background music that elevates the source material, whereas it’s competition OG and ITWY are hitting it out of the park in the OST department for both dramas.

As a drama, RRB will probably end up being one of those middle of the road projects. Some folks will love it, but not enough that it’ll be a much discussed drama. As a result, it’ll garner no drubbing as a result of popular backlash, and ultimately end up being watched and put away without any lasting impact. I’m hoping the story really starts rolling once Xiao Xiang and Jia Kai get together and start making a real go at a romance that ought to have started 7 years prior. Janine and Peter are stunningly perfect together (looks and chemistry-wise), and that is really the ultimate hook of RRB, a sterling OTP to anchor the entire story.

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First Impressions on Ring Ring Bell with Janine Chang and Peter Ho — 27 Comments

  1. I love the show. One of the rare TW shows which was able to have me cry at episode 1. I love the mother-child dynamics. Duoduo is soooo cute. I haven’t caught ITWY or OG but I’m really liking the overall feel of this show. Janine is absolutely awesome and Peter Ho & his body is pure eye candy 😀

  2. I’m patiently waiting for subs. I want to watch this so much. More so I can know, which twdrama I’ll like the most. Right now it’s Material Queen, In Time With You, then Office Girls. I can appreciate them all in very different ways. Material Queen has stopped some of the angst, not that I minded that much. In Time With You is beautiful, and I know I should like it a lot more than I do. Office Girls just makes me laugh. Dramas with kids tend to make me cry so I think I will be flexing all my emotional muscles over the next few months.

  3. Love Peter since summer desire. The thought of his body while reading your article remind me the hospital scene in summer desire. So much withholding the passion…. Wish I was there..,

  4. Wasn’t too into it when the news came out abt the drama. Fell in love with the trailer. And now I’m even more in love with the show. Janine and Peter’s chemistry won me over. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen Janine express so much raw emotion as she has done here. My heart broke for her in almost every scene, even during the lighter scenes. I can’t even begin to imagine how exhausting it must have been to do this episode.

    I’m also in love with the OST (there is such a nostalgia to it that really fits), though I agree about the choppy editing.

    What a goldmine of tw dramas these two months!! After the past few years of not liking any of the taiwanese dramas that came out, now there are three!

  5. I saw this last night and i was like super hooked, Peter is good looking no doubt so it was definately great eye candy, but I also loved how he was so caring to Duo Duo and to Janice.. he is intrigued by her even after many years later..

    For some reason the thing I can’t figure out is why he can’t recognize her.. I want to say its because she has long hair vs the short bob hair when they first met in the elevator, but I dont think they put in like a memory loss type thing in the story so its not he’s forgotten right? Maybe they’ll refresh my memory in the coming episodes.. the story is good so far, its just the whole was he going through amnesia so he can’t recognize Janice or is its just there’s too far of a time gap that he can’t remember notion is totally bugging me!!

    Can’t wait for the next coming episodes.. my sundays are going to be super busy now! 🙂

    • I think he’s going through so much right now, really he just isn’t thinking too deeply into who she is. I’m sure he’ll make the connection by next episode. I don’t think the drama is intending to make their reunion drawn out.

      Also, her name is Janine, with a “n”, and not Janice, with a “c”. 🙂 Her Chinese name is Chang Jun Ning, hence her English name sounds quite similar.

      • Well, I kind of think he did find her familiar. He did ask Xiao Xiang what her name was… except she passed him off as just someone trying to hit her up. Plus the time lapse and all… I guess he just didn’t realise who she was.

      • Sorry Koala.. I must’ve typed it too quickly and I made a misspell on her name.. I didn’t mean to do that, I knew it was Janine. I’ll be careful next time.

        I hope the story does pickup though and I agree there must’ve been lots of things spinning so either the director/producer made it so that he’s not going to recognize her soon or its taking him time.

        Thanks!

  6. Nodding head in agreement. This is definitely the first time that I’ve seen Janine act is a somewhat different way. From Hospital to B&W to SH (ones I’ve seen her in) – to me, she really acted a lot of the same, and voice delivery. But woah – I was not expecting her to have that much good chemistry with Peter. I am no fan of his.. liking none of his previous works. I must admit, he’s pretty cute here. 🙂 I am loving Office Girls so that will be my main watch, but I will definitely watch this one eventually.

    • Oh… XJK acting the bad boy there as the ex… hehe… sometimes I have a hard time believing it. Always intrigued by his roles.

  7. The two things that left the deepest impression on me after watching this:
    1. Peter Ho’s perfect English. I must have watched the part where he said “smile, smile” at least three times, lol.
    2. Pool scene next episode. I think they’re aiming at at least one shot of Peter’s body per episode. *snicker* Also, I don’t blame Janine’s character for goggling at his abs like that.

    I’m also quite disappointed in the OST… the opening theme really confused me, because I wasn’t sure if it was the song or a mini-preview or what.

  8. Peter Ho has a new fan… errr… Yeah. *blush* It’s official. I’m shallow. Really, really shallow.

    ps – didn’t even notice the OST. Will have to try and pay attention next time. Who even heard it with his abs front and center? Seriously…

  9. Not checking Ring Ring Bell out until it finishes airing.

    I’ve seen too many Taiwanese dramas lose focus and turn into utter crap this year (i.e. Material Queen and to a lesser extent, Drunken to Love You). I don’t want to get addicted to a Tw-drama and go through the same process all over again…

  10. wait… you thought peter ho was grody?! haha ok in all honesty i have never watched him in anything until today. i came across a cute movie he did called “sophie’s revenge” with zhang ziyi, fan bingbing and so ji sub on netflix (so ji sub really was the initial interest in the movie, btw. ya he’s hot, and i’m shallow ha) and was totally surprised how hooked i was by peter ho instead. and then i watched another romcom movie he did a few years back…and well now here i am, hoping you would have something to say about this drama i just found out about an hour ago lol. and lookie here, a First Impressions post 🙂 thanks ms. koala! btw, where are you watching this?? d-addicts doesn’t seem to have it, or maybe i’m searching under the wrong name… but now i want to give it a go and see naked peter torso too. *drool*….

  11. I like the first two episode all ready. I this the same girl Janine who was in Calling For Love with Mike He? Her acting chops has improved a lot. Do anyone know how many episode there will be?

  12. Initially, I only bought the movie to watch Peter Ho. No doubt that Peter Ho acted well and I’m surprised by how well Janine has acted too. Peter has acted well in both Summer Desire and this. Janine has breakthrough her skills of actng. Both leads are good. They impressed me. The whole cast are good. Just something is missing “to paint the sky pink”. May be, I need to watch it again. I could be wrong. Above are just my first impression after a quick scan of the movie..

  13. It’s awesome after I watching it the second time. Peter not only acted v. well, he managed to bring out the best of Janine and the cast. All the best to them all. Simply awesome chemistry between the couple. Very natural………

  14. I never liked watching Peter Ho in any dramas in the past. But I am swallowing my words in this drama. He is acting really well and the screen chemistry between him and Janine is awesome – the best I have seen in a long time. I absolutely luuuurve this drama. I catch it online, watch it again and again and buy the DVDs to keep for good! Awesome!

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