Reviewed by: cal42
Marco Polo was a Venetian trader in the 13th and 14th century and was one of the first westerners to trade with China. He dictated his memoirs of his trips to the then-unknown East while in a prison cell after being captured in the Venitian-Genoan war. This book, which is called The Travels of Marco Polo in English, was one of the first sensational successes for the printed word. He also supposedly met the Mongol warlord Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis), and its this meeting that serves as the basis for the film.
Reviewer Score: 7
So MARCO POLO is an historical drama then? Nope, its another martial arts epic from Chang Cheh who probably would have made Wuthering Heights into a martial epic (with Ti Lung as Heathcliff and David Chiang in drag as Catherine, Im guessing). The plot sees Polo (Richard Harrison) joining up with three Mongol fighting champions (Johnny Wang, Lau Kar-Fai and Leung Kar-Yan) to put the rebellious Chinese down when an attempt is made on the Khans life. The assassins (including Carter Wong who seems to be in every film Ive watched over the last few weeks!) are killed or captured, but not without the revelation that there are four more brothers who will take the place of the fallen and continue the struggle against the Mongol oppressors. Sure enough, the four patriots turn up (including Fu Sheng and future Venom Philip Kwok) and the two sides clash. In a nice twist, Polo starts to question the validity of the Khans claim to the Chinese empire, and finds himself siding with the rebels.
MARCO POLO has the same kind of story as the overthrow the Qing, restore the Ming type plots, only transported back in time to the 13th century and with the Tartars as the oppressors. Chang Cheh seemed to have entered another phase of his career during the mid 70s, making more historically-based epics that had some basis in fact like 5 SHAOLIN MASTERS, SHAOLIN TEMPLE and THE BOXER REBELLION. In fact, this is quite similar to THE BOXER REBELLION with its cast and style, but is sadly not quite as compelling. In fact, the film is generally only remembered for the fact that Chang had a falling out with action director Lau Kar-Leung during the production, and the two never worked together again.
Thats not to say that MARCO POLO is a bad film its not. It certainly has many good scenes of fighting and destruction, particularly near the end (and some good training scenes as well). Its just that the whole premise seems a bit odd and Richard Harrison seems out of place. His main contribution is mainly to turn and look at someone else while something is going on (and can grow a moustache in world-record time). If youre after a good historical epic, I would recommend watching THE BOXER REBELLION first before trying this out, and recommend watching it with low expectations and you may be surprised.
Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Summary: Dont be put off by the name
The name may suggest some drama or exploration movie, instead what you get is fighting and more fighting. Really, there is nothing that make this better than the average Shaw Brother movie, apart from the all star cast!!
I haven't seen Carter wong (the guy that blows himself up in "big trouble in little China") for a while so that really suprised me!!
The MArco Polo section tries to create some drama but he's barely in it so it doesnt bring the desired effect it should!!
ONly because of the all star cast: