In lieu of a tentative Season 2 release date for the hit Netflix TV drama series, Marco Polo, a short origins episode was aired last December called Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes. This episode reveals the backstory behind the character Li Jinbao, a.k.a. Hundred Eyes, who is the trainer that teaches Marco Polo, the main character of the series, how to fight.
The 30-minute episode started with an attack by the Mongols on the temple Hundred Eyes’ is residing in. Given the extraordinary, and to be honest over-the-top, ability this temple monk has with combat, he is able to fend off multiple troops before finally being captured. Kublai Khan, ruler of the Mongol Empire, quickly seeks to enlist Li Jinbao into the Mongol army but surprise, surprise, Li Jinbao isn’t interested.
In my opinion, the scripting for this conversation between Kublai Khan and Li Jinbao was poorly done. At one point, Jinbao confesses that his fighting skills were learnt from “the art of peace”. It is an ironic statement to make since the act of single-handedly slaughtering 25 armed men was undeniably violent. The Khan says as much and here is Jinbao’s response: “You destroy a temple, and call it destiny?” Basically, Hundred Eyes is arguing that since the Khan can label his empire expansion as fulfilling destiny, he has the right to label his violent actions as peaceful. What poor, immoral logic!
Moreover, the Khan is quite explicit about forcefully making Hundred Eyes share his extensive knowledge about kung-fu when he threatens to kill him, cut out his tongue, and all sorts of torturous acts. In the face of these threats, Hundred Eyes cooly asserts that he “doesn’t cling to life”. This is totally bogus because Jinbao does “cling to life”. After having his sight forcefully removed by venomous poison, Jinbao is suddenly far more agreeable in doing the Khan’s bidding and trains immensely to regain his skillful fighting abilities. Those are both pretty solid pro-life choices.
I do need to be honest in explaining that another important factor that contributed to Hundred Eyes’ agreeing on training the Khan’s son, Prince Jingim, in the ways of martial arts was that the Khan also threatened to wipe out all of the monasteries in China if Hundred Eyes’ did not comply. Seriously though, I do not get why this added leverage wasn’t included BEFORE the blinding of Hundred Eyes or why it wasn’t considered by Hundred Eyes in the first place.
Aside from the conversation scene, Hundred Eyes also has an attempted escape scene. This escape scene frustrated me simply because of how unthoughtful it was. Hundred Eyes basically thought he could outrun galloping horses!
Obviously, the escape plan failed and yet, even after having been blinded and imprisoned, Hundred Eyes’ is still as cocky as ever before the Khan. This is evidenced when the Khan and Hundred Eyes speak for the second time. However, this time around, for some reason there is a chessboard between them. At one point, the Khan explains that he has taken Hundred Eyes’ horse piece because oh, you know, Hundred Eyes’ cannot SEE, and Hundred Eyes retorts, “I know.”
NO, you don’t know because you are blind! Sure, some may say, “Well, Hundred Eyes knew the Khan would take his horse piece because that is simply how good he is at foreseeing people’s actions.” I would also say then he is quite the gambler if he is banking THAT decisively upon people to act in accordance to his predictions.
This episode was a struggle for me to watch without laughing at the impossibilities of the scenarios being played out. Yet, there is a definite intrigue to gross fantasy. I will whole-heartedly admit this character of Hundred Eyes is kick-ass. He is mysterious, powerful, and brazen. In short, simply the epitome of cool. Do check out the episode if you are curious to see this jaw-dropping character in action on Netflix. Marco Polo Season 2 is slated to release in June 2016. For more reviews of Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes, click here.