From the back alleys of decadent Venice to the battlefields of China, Marco Polo goes on an epic journey that spans continents, discovers a new and exotic world, and gains entrance to the opulent Imperial Court of Kublai Khan in Medieval China, which is where we will find ourselves at the beginning of the latest offering from Netflix. The blood of an adventurer courses through Marco’s veins and now his story is being told in ten, awe-inspiring episodes as part of a spectacular series I can’t wait to watch.
When Marco first arrived in China as a young man in the 13th century, he arrived during a turbulent time in Chinese history, in the midst of a war between the Song Dynasty and the Mongol Empire. He was engaged as a spy for Kublai Khan and travelled China and the Far East as a messenger, becoming fascinated by the wealth and the luxury of these new cities and becoming deeply ingratiated into their world – a place of greed, betrayal, rivalry and sexual intrigue.
Netflix have been making some amazing choices with its original programming, including firm favourites like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, and I’m expecting the same high quality from Marco Polo as their most recent choice. The rumour mill tells me that Netflix invested a lot of money in this first season (close to $90 million) and we can expect to see that money well spent throughout the series if the trailer is anything to go by. Worlds will definitely collide for Marco, played by an Italian actor for the first time (Lorenzo Richelmy), as cultures clash, blood is shed and lies will be told. The locations are suitably stunning and the sweeping landscapes are a result of the series being filmed on location in Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia, while the rest of the gorgeously opulent shots are no doubt inspired by an oriental culture that is deeply-rooted in its traditions and customs, and that really comes to life on screen.
The series is being likened to Game of Thrones and from the premise alone I can understand the comparison – both are epic television shows depicting scenes of breath-taking battles and power struggles in an uncertain world and both explore the nature of relationships at their core. Ultimately, we remember Marco Polo as an explorer, and there’s no better way to honour that memory than a series that seeks to recreate his initial discoveries for us all to follow him on his journey into what was essentially the unknown, albeit most probably embellished for the sake of good TV.
I’m anticipating a thrilling ride and beautiful filming, as everything from the fights to the sex scenes are choreographed with martial arts movements by Matrix alumni Yuen Woo-ping, and a fantastic global cast to really sell the performances to us. Marco Polo is the stuff of legends and this new series chronicling his adventures looks to be the best vehicle for bringing the legend to life on the small screen.
All ten episodes of Marco Polo will be available to watch on Netflix on Friday 12th December at 8:01am in the UK.