Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’ Mixes ‘Game of Thrones,’ Martial Arts, and More

Netflix is going big with its upcoming new series Marco Polo. The streaming service has just unveiled the first teaser trailer for the forthcoming show, and from the looks of it, it’s already clear that viewers can expect the first season to be jam-packed with political intrigue, sex, and even some martial arts.

Created and executive produced by Homeland’s John Fusco (who is also penning Netflix’s upcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel), the new show will focus on the obstacles that Marco Polo faces in his early years as he navigates the 13th century inner court of Kublai Khan. Per the synopsis, the epic action-adventure series will follow the legendary explorer “from the back alleys of Venice to the perilous Silk Road, from the opulence of the Imperial City to the battlefields of China, where cultures clash, blood is spilled, and lies are told.”

The 10-episode drama stars newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy in the titular role of the Italian traveler. As seen in the trailer, Benedict Wong (Prometheus) portrays the dynasty leader Khan, while Joan Chen (Twin Peaks) plays Empress Chabi, Kublai Khan’s wife. Chin Han, Zhu Zhu, Remy Hii, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Uli Latukefu, and Tom Wu round out the cast. Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. is also working with the service to release Fusco’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, is on board to executive produce. Dan Minahan (True Blood) has signed on to executive produce the project alongside Pirates of the Caribbean’s Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who directed the first two hours of the show.

Though the newly released trailer doesn’t give much away in terms of actual plot, it’s filled with plenty of intrigue, deception, and bloodshed, just as the synopsis promises. Viewers get a first glimpse at Richemly’s Polo setting out on an epic voyage. “Marco, the blood of an adventurer courses through your veins. You will enjoy the greatest adventure of all,” his character is told in one scene.

Mixing racy sex scenes with action-packed battles, the teaser has already drawn comparisons to HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones (which Minahan also previously worked on). Whether Marco Polo can actually reach the same levels of success as GoT remains to be seen, but Netflix is clearly betting big on the project in hopes that it’ll do just that. According to The New York Times, the new show cost a whopping $90 million to produce. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the budget of the first Hunger Games movie.

That blockbuster-level financial plan probably also accounts for the show’s truly stunning cinematography, which is evident even in the brief teaser. The short clip shows several shots of a stunning country landscape, a seemingly endless dessert, and an expansive mountainside where several armies battle.

But though Marco Polo is one of Netflix’s most expensive — and now, also of its most anticipated — projects, it’s not the only one to garner attention recently. The company also recently unveiled a look at another buzzy new series in Bloodline, out in 2015. It looks like Netflix users will have plenty to keep them busy in the coming months.

The entire first season of Marco Polo will be available on December 12.

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