12.25.2014

Marco Polo: Final Verdict

Rick Yune as Kaidu, head of the House of Ögedei

So not only did I push through and finish Marco Polo, I've rewatched the episodes multiple times and come to the conclusion that we need a second season.  Let me be clear: we don't need a second season because the first was so great.  But when you have a cast this awesome, and this diverse, you need a Season 2 to fix everything that was wrong with Season 1.  For example:

1)  Rename the goddamn show.  Just about every critique I've read has confirmed that nobody cares about Marco Polo.  As much as I enjoy hearing an Italian actor learn British English on the job, let's be honest: Benedict Wong runs this.  This show is about the Khan.

2) Lose the Asian fetishism and do right by the female characters.  We get it.  White guys love Asian chicks and enjoy watching them do shit like naked kung fu.

...No, seriously.




Olivia Cheng, honey...sister...why, boo? Why?

Mongolian women in particular were powerful and influential during this era; they were warriors who rode horses and did archery as well as the men. Reducing them to court ladies in pretty clothes (when they actually get to be clothed) with few lines and no character development is beyond insulting...especially when one such character is being portrayed by Joan Chen.

3) We need more Rick Yune.  Season 1 was appallingly stingy with this guy, which was detrimental because I've never seen Yune play such a regal, majestic role - and with such maturity!  Like, he's no longer pretty-faced fangirl bait, but a fully fledged veteran actor who deserves sooooo much better than appearing for a few minutes in less than half the season.

Yune plays Kaidu, and historically speaking, there's a lot to work with.  Kaidu politically opposed Kublai Khan.  As a powerful leader in his own right, he ruled much of Central Asia, and waged war for over thirty years.  And despite having fourteen sons, he favored his daughter's advice in serious matters (reread complaint #3).  Seeing Rick Yune in this particular father-daughter relationship is a welcome new aspect in his career, and we need more time to explore it.



3) Work on the dialogue.  It's painful.  It's pretentious, inconsistent, and empty.  Pick a style and stick with it.  And speaking of....

4) Lose the kung fu cliches.  With Tom Wu as the actor, the character of Hundred Eyes should've been awesome.  While the concept of a blind warrior always kicks ass, Hundred Eyes is a caricature of every kung fu master from every kung fu film ever made.  Every time he opens his mouth, the viewer cringes and I assure you it's not because of his accent.  The accent's sexy.

Also...we need flashbacks.  Mongolian actor Baljinnyamyn Amarsaikhan portrayed Ariq Böke, the brother of Kublai Khan who challenged him for rule of Mongolia. The writers thought it would be genius to kill this guy in Episode 2. Seriously? Seriously?

The main cast barely had any Mongolians playing Mongols to begin with, and losing Amarsaikhan so soon drastically impacted the show.  I mean, here we have these two close brothers clashing over the cultural future of their people - in a fight to the death - and you wrap that up in two episodes?

Baljinnyamyn Amarsaikhan
Remy Hii is the main reason I can't stop watching Season 1.  After browsing his other work on YouTube, I have decided there's nothing this actor can't do.  From gay heartthrob to tragic drug mule to a horse-riding, sword-swinging Mongolian Crown Prince, Hii has the ability to seamlessly adopt the personality of whoever he's playing - and make it look damn good.

Not to mention, I never thought the Australian accent was actually sexy until I heard this man speak.  Granted, for Marco Polo Hii does a British accent, but still...sexy.  This show could do wonders for his career if it got its shit together.

Much better picture of Remy Hii as Jinggim



So to recap - and I still can't believe I'm saying this - we need another season of Marco Polo.  These fine actors and more were gathered from all across the globe, displaying exceptional physical and linguistic diversity within the Asian diaspora (finally), and it just can't end like this.

Bonus Images


Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan






11 comments:

  1. *swoon*

    PRETTY RICKY!!!

    I've never seen Yune play such a regal, majestic role - and with such maturity! Like, he's no longer pretty-faced fangirl bait, but a fully fledged veteran actor who deserves sooooo much better than appearing for a few minutes in less than half the season.

    Yune plays Kaidu, and historically speaking, there's a lot to work with. Kaidu politically opposed Kublai Khan. As a powerful leader in his own right, he ruled much of Central Asia, and waged war for over thirty years. And despite having fourteen sons, he favored his daughter's advice in serious matters (reread complaint #3). Seeing Rick Yune in this particular father-daughter relationship is a welcome new aspect in his career, and we need more time to explore it.


    Oh RIcky, you so fine, you so fine you blow my mind...hey Ricky!

    I would watch the stank outta this if they follow your advice, cause I don't give two fux about Marco Polo but all the fux about Rick Yune playing a father with a doting daughter.

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    Replies
    1. Honey, the precious moments he has onscreen is astounding. When he puts some extra bass in his voice and defies the Khan, it was an instagasm.

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  2. So, are Aemrican films trying to appeal Asian markets with those poor attempts? I'll leave this link here, sounds interresting.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorothypomerantz/2014/11/03/why-americans-should-care-that-the-chinese-box-office-will-hit-almost-5-billion-this-year/

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    Replies
    1. The main focus would have been on Khan instead I believe. And this was Netflix, do they (China) even get that? Either way American blacks and other minorities will be screwed. We will get pushed even further out of movies.

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    2. Marco Polo is a TV series, it's a whole different story. Sorry, I forgot about that.
      Still, I thought it would be cool to talk about movies too. Even if the main focus is on a white dude, Americans might want to sell these in Asia too, right? Why not making more money the ol' way? Will American film directors let Asian actors be the main focus even if they target a big market like China? If China asks them too in order to label these films as "Chinese films", I guess they'll have too.

      Example: "Snowpiercer". Has anyone seen this movie? I have. Check it out, it was released last year in the US. It's a Korean-French-American production. The director is South Korean, the film came out in Korea first, still the main protagonist is the white dude Chris Evans (and other whites), with 2 less important Korean actors and one Afro-American actress Octavia Spencer (the starring cast). What I like about this movie is that there's not one hero who saves everyone (White savior) but a mixed team who works together (with the Koreans being the smartest there). I'm not even sure that the main white dude survived in the end.

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    3. Self-correction: It is not an example at all (quite OT even), I know it's not about entering an Asian box office, but it just popped on my mind because of what you said about focus on POC,. Looking at it the reversed way from an Asian director's perspective, I mean. So POC can adapt to Western tastes but will America ever be able to do so? If not, how will other countries respond? Like they used to...?

      I'm not asking for replies, my interest and knowledge in cinema is quite limited anyway so I can't engage in a deep conversation on it.

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    4. No he didn't survive only the Korean and the AA kid.

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  3. I'll never trust a Hollywood to tell a story with Asian's in it. Despite some potentially great opportunities for AA actors, the white male tendency to sneak in the "exotic white man, who every ancient asian woman is irresistibly, although from an anthropological standpoint inexplicably attracted to" theme is snuck in. And of course the underlying psychology is that she could never feel that way for an Asian male. If they're going to historically fuck around with events why don't they put a beautiful, black concubine in there who Marco Polo tries to get fresh with and is ceremoniously stabbed in the neck by her. I would watch it then

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If they're going to historically fuck around with events why don't they put a beautiful, black concubine in there who Marco Polo tries to get fresh with and is ceremoniously stabbed in the neck by her. I would watch it then "

      I honestly snorted.

      Delete
    2. Edge...boo...how do I contact you?

      Delete

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