By Eliza Berman
October 30, 2014

Swords, sex and armor have proven a veritable jackpot for HBO, and now Netflix is getting in on the action. The teaser for Marco Polo, an action drama about the explorer’s years in the 13th century court of Kublai Khan, practically begs to be compared to Game of Thrones. And since Netflix is on a seemingly endless roll with critically acclaimed original programming, there’s good reason for adventure fans to get excited.

Starring Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy as Marco Polo and British actor Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan, the show promises four of the critical elements of binge-watching: “greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry.” It was originally intended to air on Starz, but the company ran into trouble filming in China. Netflix then picked up the project and completed filming in Malaysia, Kazakhstan, and Italy.

For those whose history classes failed them and still think Marco Polo is merely a game of swimming pool tag, the man himself was an Italian merchant who spent 24 years exploring Asia. While he wasn’t the first European explorer in China and Central Asia, he left the most extensive documentation of his travels, and his Book of the Marvels of the World was many Europeans’ first encounter with Asia.

Marco Polo premieres on Dec. 12.


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