Marco Polo Review – Intoxicating, Passionate, An Epic Masterpiece

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"Marco Polo," the newest miniseries produced by The Weinstein Company and Netflix debuts in its entirety, immediately captures and seduces with the ancient lands of China, the Kublai Khan dynasty its imagery, mystery, exotic arts and allure.


 Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg, David Petrarca and Alik Sakharov, "Marco Polo" stars newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy, as the title character.

"Marco Polo" also stars Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan, Joan Chen, Zhu Zhu, Uli Latukefu, Dan Minahan, Chin Han, Olivia Cheng, Tom Wu, Claudia Kim, Rick Yune, Remy Hii and Mahesh Jadu.

John Fusco, who wrote the Academy-Award nominated featureSpirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, created the series along with Dan Minahan whose previous work includes Homeland andGame of Thrones. "Marco Polo," is produced by The Weinstein Company for Netflix.

The ten episode series stunning in scope, epic in design, breathtaking as cultures and worlds, western and eastern collide, through the eyes of one youthful explorer, vibrant ornate, regal with a cast of characters the famed Italian explorer, brought to this exotic world and traded by his adventurous father, played by Pier Francesco Favino, for a golden pass of the Khan dynasty, the freedom to travel throughout the Silk Road with all its spices, temptations, enticements, otherworldly displays, and famed silks produced by the white worm.

The first six episodes were required viewing for media. The series spans three continents opening in Venice, the birthplace of the Marco Polo, a gifted orator who could tame the tempers of kings with his descriptive accounts and the only child of an explorer called to find the worlds beyond the horizon.

Upon his return from another sea voyage that began before his son was born, Niccolo Polo played by Pier Francesco Favino, meets Marco, his only son, who like most wanders prefers the life alone as to the emotional burdens of confronting his own inadequacies as well as the judgmental eyes of a son who only wonders why?

Determined Marco, played by Lorenzo Richelmy, secures what he believes is his own destiny and stows away as his father, and uncle, Maffeo Polo, played by Corrado Invernizzi, set sail for the distant lands, rumored to produce fragrance, unknown spices and fabric so soft it mirrors a woman's skin.

Seductively drawn to this distant land, the stowaway is discovered and reluctantly on the road to his destiny.

The weary travelers are met along the road by the Kublai Khan's army, defenders of the king, people and land, and with punctuation end any doubt of whom is in charge.

The three, Marco, his father and uncle, after hazards of deserts, traveling unknown lands, winds, heat cold, wolf packs of men, elements that remove the weaker and less determined, the three end up in the court of Khan, played by Benedict Wong, a larger than life figure, and iron fist ruler.

Marco speaks and spars the trio a sure death. The father seizes the opportunity and trades his son for a golden pass.

After the initial episode where characters are developed and established the rest of Khan court, Empress Chabi, his wife, played by Joan Chen, his concubines, of which there are many, the Crown Prince Jingim, and heir to the Khan dynasty, Remy Hii, as well as adoptive and half sons, Ahmad, the Tax Collector, played by Mahesh Jadu and Byamba, a warrior, played by Uli Latukefu, who also offer counsel to the Khan.

With the dynamics set, the players in almost Shakespearean fashion, live outwardly dutiful lives, each determining the level of manipulation one has and how best to maneuver the circumstances to win favor and leverage the unknown and unanticipated elements to create advantage.

Marco is drawn in and granted guest status, although with boundaries, is permitted to roam freely within the walls of the city and only with permission outside.

He is protected and his opinion sought out by the Khan, obviously for his knowledge of distant lands and culture, and brings disdain, concern and continued warning from the Crown Prince.

Trained and skill in Martial Arts, the art of Kung Fu, Kung Fu Master, Hundred Eyes, played by Tom Wu plays heavily in the story as mastery of the ancient art becomes the measuring line of devotion and acceptance into the kings court.

It is also important to note, "Marco Polo" is essentially a cable presentation with vivid and graphic scenes of war, violence, child abuse and female nudity as the women, were expected to audition for the position of royal concubine, partnering with other concubines and included practiced arts of sexual arousal of which is depicted, in part and  in passing. 

Creating the authenticity of 13th Century Mongolian dynasty, "Marco Polo" was filmed in Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia.

The adventures of his youth, prisoner and free, honored and loathed, sought after and removed followed Marco Polo, who even after twenty years with the Khan Dynasty was never believed, thought of as a great story teller, and prompted on his death bed to recant and allow God to forgive him for a life of lies.

"Marco Polo," nectar of intoxicating passions, collides as the culture of the east, the Silk Road traveler lures explorers from all points of the world to the seductive mysteries, the destination of a thousand imaginations, and becomes the reality. The episodes are inviting, addicting and explosive.

"Marco Polo," an epic streaming series, airs, with all episodes available, on Netflix beginning December 12, 2014.

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