"King of Kong - A Fistful of Quarters" Review
There is nothing I love to watch more then a good documentary. Not one that covers a topic that's been seen a hundred times before but one such as "Dirty Driving: Thundercars of Indiana" or the latest I just watched, "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". It covers one man's attempt to beat the world record high score for Donkey Kong. Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, just hear me out.
Billy Mitchel is the world Donkey Kong champion with a score of about 850,000. He set that record back in 1982. No one has come close to it since. In fact the 2nd place is about 500,000 points. He is the Michael Jordan of the competitive video game world, only Mitchell is portrayed as an evil and heartless villain. He once held 5 different video game world records at once.
Steve Wiebe has a wife and children. He just got laid off from his job and he fails at almost everything he does. Since he doesn't have a job, he finds something to do to pass the time. He sees Billy Mitchell's record of 850,000 on Donkey Kong and is certain that he can beat it. He purchased his own Donkey Kong machine and eventually he scores over 1,000,000 points which he videos and sends in for verification. After a series of cheap shots led by Billy, Steve's record is never acknowledged. (Again this is a true story and is played out for all to see in the documentary)
This is a film about the competition between Mitchell and Wiebe. It is also a good insight on how video game competition works. Who would have known that watching a video-game player rivalry would have been one of the most entertaining documentaries I have ever seen. The filmmakers interview Billy and Steve, and several other people who love videogames.
One of the more important people in this story is the referee. Many serious players treat this like how you would treat some a different competition or sport. Some penalties or fouls include distraction and swearing. They also talk to Steve's parents who at times thought that Steve might be a little autistic but then decided he was just OCD.
The film also highlights people who watch out for cheaters, talk about how Donkey Kong is the hardest of the five most popular classic video-games (others are Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man, Galaga, and Defender) and that an average Donkey Kong game only lasts about a minute. They talk about strategies, in which they plan out on the Donkey Kong screen. They interview old-time players, and other people who just like to play Donkey Kong and video games in general. Hearing this is fascinating. Hearing this is often hilarious and hugely entertaining all the way through.
The director does an tremendous job of story-telling and creating an overflow of emotions as you root hard for the underdog (Steve) and learn to despise the cocky champion Billy. The ending is by far the best part as everything the films builds toward reaches a dramatic and touching climax. This film is a must see. 4 Stars.