I found this completely by accident whilst looking through Netflix and TBH the title didn’t grab me, however, it was an 18 and I fancied watching something different………and boy am I glad I did, its fantastic! It has the most original setting I’ve come across for ages, whoever came up with the idea of using the Court of Kublai Khan as the focal point for a TV series should be applauded.
The story is loosely based on Marco Polo’s adventures in Kublai Khan’s court in 13th century Mongolia and I believe there are documented accounts of him being there but I’m sure that is where the realism stops. I guess the rest is pure fantasy but it is all very interesting with plenty of intrigue, backstabbing, betrayals, marriages, deaths etc. Just what you need for an absorbing TV series.
Apart from the great setting, Marco Polo also looks great, has great acting all round, terrific action scenes (both close combat and big battles), a great soundtrack and clever storylines (full of surprises). However, what elevates Marco Polo is the character building, enough time is spent on each character that you do care about them and it does matter when someone dies.
Although the series it titled Marco Polo, and he is the character who allows you to see everything unfold, he is not the most interesting character by far, in fact, he’s a bit of a wimp (although I’m sure this is intentional). IMHO Benedict Wong who plays Kublai Khan is fantastic, he’s just is that character; ‘the Khan of Khans’. He has great presence but also the ability for you to feel sorry for the hard decisions he has to make (no matter how heartless they appear to be).
I must point out that Marco Polo is an 18 so does contain quite a bit of sex, violence and death. However, due to the era it’s filmed in and nature of the Mongolians it does not seem out of place and you can easily imagine that what you see is similar to what would have happened then.
Verdict: A very adult tale of the ups and downs of the great Mongolian empire. Highly recommended if you like this type of thing (I sure did). I can’t wait to watch the second series.
- Fantastic Setting
- Great Acting
- Intriguing Storyline