If you meet your father when you’re in your late twenties, then you can safely assume that you have a pretty crappy father. Even still, at least your “dead-beat” dad probably didn’t sell you into slavery, as in the case of Netflix’s magnum opus original series, Marco Polo.
In order to secure the Silk Road, a trade path through Mongolia, Marco Polo is given to Kublai Khan as a slave, trained in the art of battle and Mongolian horse techniques, Polo becomes a trusted advisor to the Khan as they seek to take control of the Chinese empire. The world of Marco Polo is meticulously crafted, they built an entire set and world of Venice for literally a two minute scene in the opening episode, that is true commitment to total immersement.
The show doesn’t seem overly heavy handed and it certainly is intelligently written. Political intrigue, intense action, and even a poorly pieced together romantic entanglement to bog down the show’s pace, Marco Polo is a tour de force of a Netflix original that aims, and succeeds, to show just how far the streaming service is willing to go to collect your monthly fees. Unfortunately, the adventure of grandiose exploration seems to be lacking, in favour of a somewhat generic fish out of water, displacement narrative. It is similar to The Last Samurai and its influences seem readily apparent.
That being said, Marco Polo is a damned good wannabe. This feudal-themed action drama certainly makes use of that massive budget by setting up intense battles, fast paced action and a vivid environment that creates a fantastic crafting of 13th century Asia. With so many streaming services fighting for market shares, a big-budget, AAA title like Marco Polo certainly changes the name of the game, while not at all reinventing or perfecting the feudal action, warrior genre. It’s generic and exciting, under whelming and grandiose. It’s a good show, that screams summer blockbuster, just don’t expect Marco Polo to be an ancient House of Cards.