Marco Polo is a Netflix Original series released on 12 Dec 2014. It’s a 10 episode series exploring the life and times of trader and adventurer Marco Polo’s time in the court of Kublai Khan. Historical dramas based in ancient and medieval times are becoming more popular these days. Shows like Rome, Spartacus, Camelot, Pillars of the Earth, Vikings, the list goes on and on.
But like anything nowadays in the historical fiction/fantasy genre it draws comparisons to the highly popular, Game of Thrones. While one is pure fantasy the other uses historical events as it’s guide. You won’t find White Walkers, wargs or greensight in Marco Polo. You will find stunning landscapes, epic battles and political intrigue. If it helps to relate it to Game of Thrones, think of it as a series based entirely on the Dothraki.
Here are 5 reasons you should watch Marco Polo
- Kublai Khan
Benedict Wong plays the Khan of Khans and he steals the show! This series could have been title Kublai Khan. Wong dominates every scene and if the real Kublai Khan was as imposing it’s no wonder he controlled most of Asia. Watching Benedict Wong portray Kublai Khan, there is no doubt he is the Khan of Khans!
- Empress Chabi and the Blue Princess
The women of Marco Polo are fascinating! They offer a interesting glimpse into the espionage of the ‘subservant’ female role in Medieval Asia. Joan Chen as Empress Chabi and Zhu Zhu as Kokachin, the Blue Princess are outstanding. As the series unfolds their characters blossom to their full potential. If you think their beauty is impressive wait til you see them fight!
- Bayan the Hundred Eyes
In history Bayan the Hundred Eyes was a great Mongol General. In Marco Polo Hundred Eyes is a Taoist monk and Kung Fu master who trains Marco Polo in all the aspects of, well, Kung Fu. To add another level of awesome to Hundred Eyes, he is completely blind, kind of ironic. Don’t let his lack of sight fool you, he is still a great warrior.
It’s fun to watch Marco Polo get beat so easily be a blind monk. During the series Hundred Eyes even ventures out and joins the great (and small) battles of the Mongol army. Game of Thrones may have Syrio Forel but he’s no match for Bayan the Hundred Eyes!
- Production Value
Netflix and The Weinstein Company spent over $90 Million on this series and it shows. From the sets to the costumes to the vast landscapes. Marco Polo was filmed in Kazakhstan not Mongolia or China. Kazakhstan borders both China and Mongolia and was conquered by Genghis Khan, so it’s a good stand in. The set designs and costumes are outstanding! There are amazing sword fights, Kung Fu and even epic battles between the Mongols and Song Dynasty.
- Marco Polo
While the series may bear his name, Marco Polo is almost a minor character. And as the series progresses he fades to the background making way for members of Khan’s court to take But it is through his eyes we see the court of Kublai Khan and the Mongolian army. We get to experience the strange new world right along with him and that’s part of the intrigue. He provides the ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ plot device
- Bonus Reason: History
Marco Polo does a good job keeping true to the history, at least the broad aspects of the history. The personal interactions and encounters are most certainly dramatized for the show. The show writers had a great source to work from though, the actual writings of Marco Polo. He recorded his travels and adventures throughout Asia for all of us to enjoy!
Currently there is only one way to watch Marco Polo and that is on Netflix. Unlike the other original series Netflix produces, Marco Polo looks like it may be only one season.