A good but ultimately inconsequential TV short.
As one of the most endearing characters from the Marco Polo series, One Hundred Eyes gets his own prequel in this 30 minute TV short that’s an interesting but ultimately inconsequential feature. With a story focusing on how One Hundred Eyes came to be the way he is, there’s some fascinating work put into crafting the back story. The feature is well shot but ironically feels rushed and too quick, juxtaposing with the sluggish pace inherent in the main show.
The story takes place several decades before the events of the first season with the Mongols invading a temple the popular monk himself resides at. After an impressively choreographed, breathtaking fight scene, the setting then moves to familiar territory – Kublai Khan’s court. Whilst gripping and enjoyable throughout, the story does feel a little pointless and simply serves to whet the appetite and appease fans before the second season arrives. Its certainly ill advised for those unfamiliar with the the series to start here; with little to no characterisation, this is a feature solely for the fans and not designed as a stand alone show.
In many ways One Hundred Eyes feels like the extreme opposite of the first season of Marco Polo. The story moves along at breakneck speed, filling in a few interesting points from One Hundred Eye’s past aong the way but never stopping to embrace the emotional highs and lows the character endures. There’s a few particularly tense and vulnerable moments that are sadly cut short due to the 30 minute run time that ultimately hinders this from being as good as it could have been. I just can’t help but feel this TV short would have benefited from an extra half hour or so to flesh out One Hundred Eyes and make his jump from being blinded by rage to the harmonious, level headed warrior monk more believable. It was always going to be an uphill struggle to achieve this, given the small window of time, but on the whole the cast do a good job with the time given to tell One Hundred Eye’s origin story, even if there are some pacing issues throughout.
Ultimately, One Hundred Eyes is a TV feature designed from the ground up for fans of Marco Polo’s world whom these characters reside in. The familiar visual design and cinematography is inherent here too and although the pacing issues do hold this back from being as good as it could have been, it also works to disguise some of the more awkward dialogue exchanges that seem to be a staple of this universe. One Hundred Eyes is disappointingly short but if you found yourself wanting more after the climactic end to the first season, One Hundred Eyes is a great way to stave off the anticipation before watching the second season of Marco Polo.