Howdy ladies and gents, it is time for an unscheduled film review! Today I decided to have a look at the documentary; The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Now my reason for watching this is because John Campea of AMC Movie Talk said it was one of the best documentaries he had ever seen, plus this is a documentary my uncle recommended to me almost two years ago. So my viewing for this was long overdue.
So the story is follows Steve Wiebe in his attempts to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from whom the film presents as reigning champion, Billy Mitchell.
This documentary told an incredibly engaging and dramatic story which is crazy considering the source material. I felt both captivated and shocked by the actions of the people involved, that their lives revolved around video games to such a high degree. But it’s not just about the games, it is about the lives of those who compete and the varying circumstances that they go through over the course of the film, it is about honour, fame and a fierce rivalry between two people specifically that blew up far bigger than anything in the history of this area of the media. This is kind of tale is probably bizarre for those not well-versed in the world of gaming, however for people like me who grew with games some of this madness is comprehensible, but these guys just take the nerdiness to a whole new level. The lengths that some people go to for a high score or some notoriety this is actually quite sad and pathetic, that being said I can’t deny the emotional and dramatic elements of this documentary. There is winning and losing, deceptive behaviour, bad sportsmanship, crazy alliances, insane devotion to arcade gaming and so much more. It is mad to believe that so much could come out a simple thing like video games but it is all on-show here in one of the most dramatic, emotional and tension-based displays I have ever seen.
It is hard to talk about the people in a documentary because they’re not actors, they’re real people and nothing about them is fictionalized. It is real life. That being said, there are noteworthy things to be said about some of these people.
Firstly let me talk about Steve Wiebe. Man this guy is the nicest guy ever, he just wanted to beat a high score legitimately and be the best at something. While it is kind of sad the amount of time he spends playing arcade games and chasing this high score, the story behind his need for this goal is quite incredible and admirable too. Plus outside of games he is absurdly talented especially in music, why he never took it up properly is crazy to me. And then there’s Billy Mitchell. Now I’ve known of Mitchell for years because James Rolfe as the Angry Video Game Nerd mentioning him in one of his videos, I thought he was some kind of awesome legend. And at first you do like him, he’s confident, charismatic and knows he’s the best and has the skills to back it up. However when challenge heads his way the dude gets sneaky and becomes a right asshole! Such a douche of a man and it is disturbing how much of a deceptive coward he is.
Walter Day, the founder of Twin Galaxies is great, he is a strange man, with very strong feelings towards video games which can be looked at as a bad thing but that is also one of his best aspects. Day describes some of the fundamental aspects of why gaming is so addictive and skill-based which regular people don’t usually understand, and sometimes he sounds crazy and obsessed, but there is so much truth to his words that I couldn’t help but love him. Robert Mruczek is another questionable individual due to his sort alliance with Mitchell, also the fact that he had to sit there and check out all those VHS tapes is MADNESS, FRIGGING MADNESS! Brian Kuh is a guy who is a skilled player but again because of his close alliance with Mitchell makes him a dodgy character. Steve Sanders is one of the few friends Mitchell who you dislike at first but he eventually becomes a creditable man when he sees the skills of Wiebe. Roy Shildt is one untrustworthy geezer, he initially comes across as the bad guy but once Mitchell’s true colours come out you start to see Shildt in a different light. And lastly I liked other people like Greg Bond and Doris Self too.
In conclusion The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, period. Granted I haven’t seen that many but I would rate this as highly as Senna (my favourite documentary ever). It’s a film about people and their obsession with 1980’s arcade video games and it should be boring as hell, but the story, direction, people involved and use of archive footage makes it incredibly captivating that even if you’re not a fan of video games you’ll get into it. For those who haven’t seen this film I highly recommend it.
8.5/10 (An addictive, strange and dramatic look into the competitive world of arcade gaming)
So have you seen The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to leave your comments below and I’ll see ya on the next film review yo. 😀