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Thread: Marco Polo - Netflix Original Series

  1. #1
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    Marco Polo - Netflix Original Series

    Starz Picks Up Marco Polo Drama Series
    By NELLIE ANDREEVA | Friday January 13, 2012 @ 6:35am
    Nellie Andreeva

    Starz has greenlighted Marco Polo, a new 10-episode original scripted series about the 13th century explorer from the Weinstein Co. and Electus. Created by John Fusco (Hidalgo), Marco Polo is described as a fantastical martial arts epic chronicling the famous adventurer’s early years in the court of Kublai Khan. Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East and returns with tales of his journeys. In a court filled with political betrayal and forbidden relationships, Marco must use his martial arts training to survive, but it is his ability to enchant Khan with imaginative tales of his kingdom that is often his best tool to stay alive. Fusco wrote the project and is executive producing with Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Ben Silverman. “Marco Polo has captivated imaginations for centuries, and John’s script brings this fantastical story to life,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said.

    Starz Entertainment is receiving domestic premium pay TV rights and certain digital rights to the series for its flagship Starz network, while Starz’s Anchor Bay arm will distribute the property in the U.S. in home video. All remaining rights will be controlled by the Weinstein Co. and Electus’ global distribution arm Electus International. For Albrecht, this marks a return to his early days at Starz, when his first greenlighted series was costume drama Camelot. He has since stayed in the present or close to it with Boss and Magic City, in addition to the live-action adaptation of the anime series Noir.
    John Fusco was the screenwriter for Forbidden Kingdom. He contributed our cover story on that - FORBIDDEN FIST: The Making of THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM in our 2008 May/June issue. He is also the author of the forthcoming children's book, Little Monk and the Mantis, featuring the artwork of our senior graphic designer, Patrick Lugo. John promised me that there will be kung fu in this new Marco Polo series.
    Gene Ching
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    To Netflix?

    Will Marco Polo be the new black...and orange?

    Netflix Eyes 'Marco Polo' Drama Series
    6:00 PM PDT 8/5/2013 by Lesley Goldberg

    The streaming service is eyeing the drama series Marco Polo from Starz, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

    The drama was originally developed at Starz, who picked up the project straight to series in January 2012. Sources tell THR that the cable network released the drama back to producers the Weinstein Co. and Electus after its attempts to film the series in China fizzled. The Weinstein Co. is currently mulling whether to set up the series at Netflix as a nine-episode order or a feature film version of the project.

    The series hails from creators John Fusco (Young Guns) and Dave Erikson (Sons of Anarchy, Low Winter Sun). The nine-chapter story chronicles the explorer's journey from the treachery surrounding him to his relationship with the tyrant Kublai Khan. Harveyand Bob Weinstein originally developed the idea alongside Electus' Ben Silverman, all of whom will serve as executive producers.

    Marco Polo is the true story of the world’s greatest storyteller. It's described as an epic and cinematic adventure of high politics, masterful manipulation and deadly warfare. The drama is told from the young Marco Polo's point of view when he finds himself at the center of a brutal war between two empires in 13th century China, replete with close combat, romance and sexual intrigue, religious tension, political skullduggery and spectacular battles.

    The series would join an original programming roster at Netflix that includes Orange Is the New Black, which in a move similar to Starz, was renewed for a second season ahead of its premiere; horror-thriller Hemlock Grove, Emmy darling House of Cards;Arrested Development; Ricky Gervais' upcoming entry Derek; and the Wachowskis' Sense8.

    The pickup comes as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has plans to double the company's original series in 2014.
    Gene Ching
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    Suddenly, I'm reminded of that old swimming pool game...

    ...you know the one. You yell "Marco" with your eyes closed, and then everyone responds "Polo" and then you try to catch them based on what you heard. No peeking now.

    Netflix’s Next Original Series Could Be Its Most Ambitious Yet
    By Thomas Mentel
    August 10, 2013

    (NASDAQ:NFLX) next original series might be its most ambitious one to date. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix is considering taking on the drama series Marco Polo, based on accounts of the young traveler, which was originally developed at Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) before the cable network returned the series to The Weinstein Co.

    In January 2012, Starz picked up the ambitious project but later released the drama back to The Weinstein Co. after attempts to film in China did not work out as planned, THR reports. The Weinstein Co. is reportedly deciding whether to set up the project as a nine-episode series at Netflix or produce a feature-length version.

    The series was created by John Fusco of Young Guns and Dave Erikson of Sons of Anarchy, and was originally developed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein along with Ben Silverman of Electus; the three will serve as executive producers.

    Marco Polo tells the story of a young Marco Polo as he becomes embroiled in a war between two empires in 13th century China. Described as epic with a focus on politics, manipulation, and warfare, the story also explores his relationship with Kublai Khan.

    If the show ends up going to Netflix, it will be the latest in a surge of original content for the online streaming service. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove and the latest season of Arrested Development were all released in 2013 and the company has no intention of slowing, with Ricky Gervais’s Derek on the way along with the Wachowskis’s Sense8, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Furthermore, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said he wants to double the company’s amount of original programming in 2014.

    Ted Serandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview: ”It’s feasible that we would double the load that we did this year [with eight new shows]. People’s tastes are wildly diverse, and I want to be able to appeal to all of those tastes and across demos. Hemlock Grove is totally different from House of Cards. Orange is the New Black is a very different show. I think we can support a lot of specific tastes.”

    Asked by the trade publication whether he felt Netflix was changing Hollywood in big ways, he responded: “There’s no question when we launched our series 13 episodes at a time that the one thing that everybody agreed on in this town was that it was insane. I got a call from every network executive I knew who said: ‘Don’t be crazy. You’ve got this huge investment, drag it out. Make ’em come back every week, and you could launch new things off of them.’ It just sounded to me like the same kind of managed dissatisfaction that is the entire entertainment business.”

    Warner Bros Sets Stephanie Koff To Script ‘Marco Polo’
    By MIKE FLEMING JR | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 2:21pm
    Mike Fleming


    EXCLUSIVE: For a guy who lived in the 13th Century, Marco Polo has suddenly caught Hollywood’s fancy. Warner Bros has set Stephanie Koff to write Marco Polo, a film Erwin Stoff is producing. Koff, who most recently adapted Wither, based on the bestselling young adult novel series The Chemical Garden Trilogy. She’s a writer of science fiction action and fantasy and will take Marco Polo in a new direction. This comes as Netflix has emerged as frontrunner on a nine episode order on a series created by John Fusco backed by The Weinstein Company and Electus. Polo was the Venice merchant traveler and storyteller who ventured to China and opened up Asia for trade. Koff is repped by Gersh and New Wave Entertainment.
    Gene Ching
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    Netflix it is...

    It’s Official: Netflix Orders Series ‘Marco Polo’ From Weinstein Co. With Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg Directing
    By NELLIE ANDREEVA | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 6:00am

    After months of negotiations, Netflix has closed a deal for its newest original series Marco Polo, a nine-episode drama of politics, manipulation and deadly warfare among clashing empires. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) are directing the first episode before they go off to helm Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. The project, originally set up at Starz, will premiere on Netflix in late 2014. It will be produced by The Weinstein Co. at the new Pinewood Studios, Malaysia. Originally developed by the Weinstein Co. and Electus, the project received a 10-episode straight-to-series order by Starz in January 2012. Seven scripts were written for the series, which was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. A year and a half later, last August Starz released the project, and it was taken to Netflix, which made an offer for nine episodes to be filmed in Malaysia. Electus remains involved, serving as executive producer and distributing in all non-Netflix international territories. Ronning and Sandberg will also executive produce with Dan Minahan (Game Of Thrones). The series, created and executive produced by John Fusco (Hidalgo), set in 13th century China, a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles. “John Fusco and his team have created a timeless tale of power, adventure, betrayal and lust that combines deft storytelling and cinematic ambition,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. Added TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein: “With the glowing success of series like House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, it’s clear that Netflix is breaking tremendous ground in the realm of streaming original content. We could not be more excited to partner with them on this project, along with the creative tour de force of John Fusco and his talented team.”
    "astonishing martial arts"

    bring it!
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    tragedy strikes

    Saw this on John's fb.
    ‘Marco Polo’ Crew Mourns Ju Kun; Asst Martial Arts Choreographer Is Among Missing On Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
    By MIKE FLEMING JR | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 10:12am


    UPDATE: Netflix and The Weinstein Company have just sent a statement regarding Ju Kun: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” they said in a joint statement. “Ju Kun, who was on board, was an integral part of our production team and a tremendous talent. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”

    EARLIER: Among the passengers missing and believed to have perished on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is Ju Kun, the veteran martial arts expert and assistant martial arts choreographer on Marco Polo, the Netflix/The Weinstein Company series pilot that is scheduled to begin production in three weeks. The 35-year old stuntman had completed a day of training and choreography and made a quick trip from Pinewood Studios in Malaysia to his home in Beijing, which was why he boarded the flight that disappeared 35,000 feet over Vietnam.

    This sad news comes to me from Marco Polo series creator John Fusco, who provided the below photo he took with Ju Kun the day he boarded the flight. Fusco first worked with Ju Kun on The Forbidden Kingdom and made sure that Ju Kun’s close friend, Marco Polo‘s head fight choreographer Brett Chan, brought him in for both choreography and stunt work on the ambitious series. He said Ju Kun has worked at Jet Li’s stunt double and been in films like Fearless, The Expendables, The Grandmaster and The Forbidden Kingdom, and Fusco said Ju Kun’s mastery of several martial arts styles made his choreography distinctive. Right now, they are all waiting for answers.


    “All of us on location in Malaysia are devastated as we go through this agonizing wait,” Fusco told me. “Ju Kun is an integral and beloved member of our Marco Polo family, and on behalf of Harvey Weinstein and Netflix, we are all profoundly shocked and saddened. Right now are are rallying around his wife, Li Ping as she awaits answers in Kuala Lumpur. Our hearts and prayers are also with all of the other missing passengers and their families.”

    At present, Fusco said there are few concrete answers. “At this point, there is no confirmation of a crash, just a missing plane,” Fusco said. “We are staying close to Li Ping and supporting her in every way possible. We will be there for her and their two young sons, whatever the outcome may be. I first worked with Ju Kun on The Forbidden Kingdom in 2008 and recognized him then as an amazing martial arts performer. He has risen through the ranks of stunt men and fight choreographers to become one of the best and most sought after. He has worked closely with Master Yuen Woo-Ping and is currently a key member of Brett Chan’s stunt team on Marco Polo. Ju Kun’s skill-set encompasses a vast array of martial arts styles, yet he does each one of them, not just well, but at a supreme level. From the internal systems like Bagua to acrobatic wushu to the close combat system of Wing Chun, and beyond. But his true mastery is in bringing all of this knowledge together through his action choreography. Although we are still three weeks out from the start of principle photography, Ju Kun’s special footprint is already on many of our unique martial arts sequences that have been choreographed and prepared by Brett Chan’s stellar team.

    “Ju Kun is a wonderful, caring soul whose disciplined work ethic inspires everyone around him to raise the bar on themselves,” Fusco said. “We love him dearly and can only pray and soldier on as he would want us to do at this time.”
    Gene Ching
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    Such sad news for all the families of those who are missing under such mysterious circumstances, May Buddha watch over our Kungfu brother Master Ju Kun.

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    Lorenzo to play Marco

    Netflix's 'Marco Polo' Sets Its Cast
    7:30 AM PDT 4/8/2014 by Lesley Goldberg
    Lorenzo Richelmy will play the title role, leading an all-star international cast in the series set to bow in late 2014.


    Courtesy of Netflix
    Lorenzo Richelmy
    Netflix's Marco Polo has raised its sail and set its key cast ahead of its late 2014 bow.
    Lorenzo Richelmy has been tapped to star as the famed explorer in the drama series based on the adventures of Marco Polo, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
    The 10-episode drama was created by John Fusco (Young Guns II) and focuses on the famed explorer's journey that takes him to the center of a brutal war in 13th century China -- a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles.
    The native of Liguria, Italy, moved to Rome at age 4 and made his acting debut in a theatrical performance at age 8. In 2002, he starred in Il Pranzo della Domenica and counts TV roles including I Liceali. He was named best upcoming personality by the Italian Tourist Department in 2008 and was the youngest student admitted to Italy's top drama school CSC. In 2010, he starred in Fat Cat, which netted him a best actor at the Bruxelles International Film Festival as well as three other festivals in California.
    Benedict Wong (Prometheus), Zhu Zhu(Cloud Atlas), Tom Wu (Skyfall), Remy Hii (Treading Water) and Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen) round out the cast.
    Fusco and Harvey Weinstein will executive produce the drama. Dan Minahan (Gmae of Thrones, True Blood) will also exec produce and direct two episodes. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) will direct the first two episodes. Patrick MacManus will co-exec produce, with Collin Creighton producing for TWC.
    The 10-episode series will film in Italy, Kazakhstan and the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Marco Polo will premiere in late 2014 on Netflix.
    PHOTOS: From 'Arrested Development' to 'House of Cards,' Exclusive Portraits of Netflix's Stars
    “Television audiences today are more discerning than ever before both in terms of character and the scope of the worlds those characters live in," Weinstein said. "We are proud to present a series that rivals some of the most successful films we’ve ever made. Marco Polo is a figure all have heard of, but few truly know, and we are excited to introduce him to the world. And we are shooting all over the world. From the sweeping vistas of Kazakhstan which act as backdrop for the wars and conquests of Kublai Khan to the intimate moments within the alleys and canals of Marco’s hometown of Venice, Italy, this is spectacle in the truest sense of the word."
    Added Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos: "John, Dan, Joachim, Espen and our partners at The Weinstein Co. are elevating the art of storytelling and delivering cinematic quality that we’re certain our members will enjoy. In this commanding, epic story of Marco Polo, through the magnetic cast they’ve assembled, the spectacular martial arts work they are showcasing and the exotic locations that serve as a backdrop, they have really outdone themselves."
    Richelmy is repped by Officine Artistiche in Italy; Wong is with Gordon and French in the U.K.; Zhu is with CAA and Larry Galper; Hii is with Innovative and RGM; Yune is with CAA, Evolution and Bloom Hergott.
    Marco Polo has had a long road to the screen. The drama was originally developed at Starz, which picked up the drama straight to series in January 2012. The cabler released the project back to producers The Weinstein Co. -- and at the time, Electus -- after its attempts to film the series in China Fizzled.
    Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
    Twitter: @Snoodit
    There's now a thread dedicated solely to the loss of Ju Kun.
    Gene Ching
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    It's a wrap

    First look at Netflix's ‘Marco Polo’ series
    Upcoming 10-episode show promises to be epic
    By Sean Fitzgerald, QMI Agency
    First posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 06:01 AM MDT | Updated: Thursday, August 28, 2014 08:25 AM MDT







    JOHOR BAHRU, MALAYSIA - Netflix’s next phase of original content is going to be anchored by something pretty epic. And by a historical figure we’ve kind of forgotten about.

    “When we say ‘Marco Polo’, we think of a swimming pool game,” says filmmaker John Fusco, sitting on the edge of a couch in a break room on the sprawling Pinewood Studios complex in the sweltering city of Johor Bahru, Malaysia. “So, in so many ways, I see Marco Polo as an untapped story, a really significant and relevant one….I think you need a long-form TV series to capture it all.”

    This week, Netflix has announced its upcoming historical saga — called, you guessed it, Marco Polo — will be hitting the streaming service on December 12. And we’ve also been given a first look at the show’s characters and costumes through a series of images released from the show.

    The upcoming 10-episode series will feature a large budget and a global cast, something that can be seen in the photos, which include Italian newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy in the title role, Chinese performer Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas, The Man With the Iron Fists) as Marco’s love interest Kokachin, British actor Benedict Wong (Prometheus, Sunshine) as Emperor Kublai Khan and Chinese actress Joan Chen (Twin Peaks) as Khan’s wife Chabi Khatun.

    The show will follow the Italian explorer’s journey as he travels from his home in Venice to the court of Kublai Khan, and finds himself in the middle of a war in 13th Century China. Along with a heavy dose of martial arts — creator Fusco holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu and is currently working on the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — the plot will also involve sexual intrigue, political manoeuvring and father-son drama.

    Fusco, whose writing credits also include the movies Young Guns, The Babe, Hidalgo and The Forbidden Kingdom, says he has felt a long-time kinship with Marco Polo.

    “I’m of Italian descent, I grew up with up with almost an obsession with Eastern culture and China, and I started studying martial arts at a very young age,” he says. “I remember having an uncle who came to visit one day, when I was 12. He came into my bedroom, and I had Chinese scrolls up, I had incense, and a veritable shrine to Bruce Lee. He came in, and he said, ‘You’re an Italian kid who thinks he’s Chinese. What are you, Marco Polo?’ And I remember thinking, after he left, ‘I’ve gotta look into Marco Polo.’ So, I’ve had pretty much a life-long interest in Marco Polo.”

    Fusco says the idea for the project first developed in his head in 2007, while taking a trek across Mongolia on horseback with his 13-year-old son and a local guide.

    “On that trail, while we were all talking about the history of the Khan Empire, every now and then Marco Polo’s name would come up. ‘Well, according to Marco Polo...’ And as I was on horseback, riding across, you have those long hours of riding across vast steppe, you daydream, you think. And it just all sort of came together. I felt, ‘This is the time to do Marco Polo.’ ”

    Fusco’s vision was helped along by executive producer Harvey Weinstein, who has said that Marco Polo is “up there with Game of Thrones as the biggest series that’s ever been shot.”

    Aside from filming at the 20-hectare complex in Malaysia, Fusco and the production team also travelled to Venice and Kazakhstan to shoot scenes for the show.

    Netflix’s other upcoming original projects include the Wachowskis’ sci-fi series Sense8, a gritty show about drug lord Pablo Escobar, an untitled drama from the creators of Damages and a number of shows set inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Twitter: @SeanDFitzgerald
    sean.fitzgerald@sunmedia.ca
    John Fusco is an old friend so we'll surely have more to come on this soon.
    Gene Ching
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    12/12/14

    The nice thing about NetFlix shows is you can watch them whenever you want.
    Netflix's 'Marco Polo' Gets Premiere Date
    7:37 AM PDT 8/28/2014 by Hilary Lewis
    The original series about the famed explorer stars Italian newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy


    Netflix
    'Marco Polo'

    Netflix's Marco Polo will set sail in December, it was announced on Thursday.

    The streaming service's new original series, about the explorer's adventures in Kublai Khan's court in 13th century China, will be available on Dec. 12, 2014 at 12:01 a.m. PT.

    The 10-episode drama, created by John Fusco (Young Guns II), stars Italian newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy as Marco and Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan. Beijing-born Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas) plays Marco's love interest Kokachin. Joan Chen, Remy Hill, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Uli Latukefu, Chin Han and Tom Wu round out the cast.

    Fusco and Harvey Weinstein are among those executive producing the drama along with Dan Minahan (Game of Thrones, True Blood), who will also direct two episodes. The Weinstein Company is producing.

    Marco Polo has had a long journey to the small screen. It was originally developed at Starz, which picked up the drama straight to series in January 2012, but Starz released it back to The Weinstein Co. and Electus, which was then producing, when its attempts to film the series in China fizzled.

    10:26 a.m. An earlier version of this story mistakenly listed Ben Silverman's Electus as one of Marco Polo's executive producers. The Hollywood Reporter regrets the error.
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    trailer



    On a side note, this mini-series inspired me to finally read Marco Polo's Travels. It was a great read - absolutely fascinating - and important to anyone interested in world history.
    Gene Ching
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    New trailer

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    short coverage

    I daresay there will be more...

    11.20.14
    Netflix's New Original Series, Marco Polo
    By Katie James Film, Arts + Culture Comments



    What inspired screenwriter John Fusco (of Hidalgo fame) to create Marco Polo, a new Netflix series based on the life of the 13th-century Venetian explorer? An epic journey of his own—guided by nomads through Central Asia on horse and camel. After that 2007 trek (and later trips to remote corners of China), Fusco resolved to turn the story of the world’s first globe-trotter into a TV drama.

    With unknown 24-year-old Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy in the title role—“he reminded me of a young Brando,” Fusco says—shooting began in Venice in March. “And then, just like Marco Polo, we traveled east,” Fusco says. Kazakhstan stood in for ancient Constantinople, Karakorum, and other Silk Road stops, with hundreds of extras reenacting intense battles on the steppe. Later scenes, including those at Kublai Khan’s court, were shot on elaborate sets at a studio in Malaysia.

    It’s said that with his last breath, Marco Polo whispered, “I did not tell half of what I saw.” Fusco’s series should help fill in the blanks. Dec. 12.
    Gene Ching
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    Our JAN+FEB 2015 issue

    Now you see why I've been so interested in this...



    JAN+FEB 2015 Table of contents
    Gene Ching
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    Looking forward to seeing it.
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

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    Will there be dragons?

    In Travels, Polo does discuss fantastical beasts like unicorns and such. They don't play a major role in the narrative, just odd descriptions of things he's heard about.


    Remote Patrol: Is Netflix's Marco Polo the new Game of Thrones?
    By Bruce Fretts
    Friday, Dec 5 2014, 6:31am EST
    Remote Patrol: Is Marco Polo the new Game of Thrones?


    © Netflix / Phil Bray

    Tis the season for epics at the movies with Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies rolling out worldwide over the next few weeks. But if you're craving massive battle scenes and fancy costumes, you don't have to leave home, as Netflix offers its own large-scope historical opus, Marco Polo, which is set to conquer the globe starting December 12.

    The sprawling 12-episode drama, executive-produced by Harvey Weinstein, follows the exploits of the titular Venetian adventurer (Lorenzo Richelmy) in the court of the 13th century tyrant Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong). With its majestic theme song, royal scheming and prodigious nudity, Marco Polo may remind you of another small-screen epic, Game of Thrones.

    HBO went for it and won big with its pricey extravaganza, and Netflix is following suit. While Marco Polo may not have the fan base of George RR Martin's novels, he's still a recognizable brand name, and Netflix didn't skimp on hiring top-notch behind-the-camera talent, including veteran GoT directors Alik Sakharov and Daniel Minahan.


    © Netflix / Phil Bray

    I've seen the first six episodes of Marco Polo, and while my tastes generally run to contemporary stories, I've gotta admit I got swept up in the pageantry of it all. I daresay it's Game of Thrones for people who don't like Game of Thrones - people like me, who lost interest once dragons and too many other fantastical elements removed it from the gritty, grimy realism of season one.

    Richelmy's got real star quality, and his performance is even more impressive when you realize the Italian actor spoke very little English when he was cast in the role. He's supported by a stellar ensemble, including Prometheus's commandingly charismatic Wong, The Last Emperor's Joan Chen as his cunning wife (she's the cool yin to his hot-headed yang), and Kick-Ass 2's wicked-awesome Tom Wu as Marco's blind martial-arts trainer.


    © Netflix / Phil Bray

    The fight sequences are exhilarating, and the sex scenes aren't entirely gratuitous (Kublai Khan did like his concubines). Creator John Fusco - who's also penning the Weinstein Co.'s reboot of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Green Legend, which will premiere on Netflix next year - keeps the story grounded in history. And he's hired seasoned scribes like Law & Order veteran Michael Chernuchin to maintain the just-the-facts tone.

    The first two hours were expertly directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, the Norwegian duo behind 2012's rafting saga Kon Tiki and the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Blessedly, there's no Johnny Depp to chew Marco Polo's scenery - and what gorgeous scenery it is (the series was filmed in Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia).

    So why not stay in, curl up, and binge-watch an episode or 10? After all, as Game of Thrones reminds us, Winter is coming...

    Bruce Fretts is a veteran of both Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide Magazine, where he penned the wildly popular 'Cheers & Jeers' column for ten years.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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