The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (2007)

June 17, 2009

The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters is a documentary about competitive video gaming that centers on two men battling it out for the all-time world record on the original arcade version of Donkey Kong. If it all sounds a little nerdy, that’s because it is; but the story is compelling nevertheless. One of the men the film focuses on is Billy Mitchell, a man that set a record on Donkey Kong in 1982 that wasn’t even approached before Steve Wiebe came out of nowhere in the mid-90s and claimed to have toppled a million points, a new world record. Unfortunately for Wiebe, Mitchell is highly beloved by the circle of geeks in control of the record books and his record is said to be invalid unless he can prove it in person. The film is often described as a battle between the two Donkey Kong masters–hell, I just said that myself in the first sentence–but to call this a “battle” would be giving too much of a backbone to Billy Mitchell. I get the impression that the filmmaker was a bit biased against the man, but rightfully so. Mitchell barely acknowledges Wiebe’s presence when they are in proximity of each other and is snootily evasive whenever talk of a friendly competition is mentioned. Not once during the doc, does Mitchell sit down and play a game of Donkey Kong in public after his record has been toppled. Instead, he sneakily sends in a taped session in which he sets a new high score and is rewarded for the same act that got Wiebe’s record overturned. It’s quite a depressing turn of events and one can’t help but hate the men behind the decision just a little bit, especially after watching Wiebe sit for hours on camera putting his skills on public display only to come up short in the end. Is it possible to feel emotional resonance watching a grown man crying over a video game? I think so, because I was genuinely sorry for the guy and I wanted nothing more than to see Billy Mitchell get his dubious record shoved up his ass. Does this story have a happy ending? Well, I guess you are going to have to see for yourself… or spend three seconds on Google and get your answer.

Grade: 7 out of 10 (must see)

One comment

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