banner image

:: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Who would have thought that one of the years most intriguing and suspenseful films would be a documentary involving two grown men battling over the supremacy of an arcade game? Yet that is exactly what transpires in “The King of Kong…”, Seth Gordon’s equally funny and disturbing documentary that deals with espionage, jealousy, and sabotage, as one man challenges the upper echelons of gaming society whilst trying to break the Donkey Kong world record.

Said man is Steve Weibe, a husband, father of two, and tragic over achiever who – after losing his job – focuses his attention on breaking the record set by Billy Mitchell, an almost mythical figure in the gaming community whose ego is equal to that of his legendary status. After Weibe breaks the record, he sends a tape recording of his accomplishment to Twin Galaxies, the central gaming organisation in America. Because of their strong ties to Mitchell, Weibe’s score is knocked back, leaving him no choice but to face off against his adversary in a live setting to prove once and for all who the real king of Kong is.

This is an extremely intriguing watch that manages to engross the viewer despite of the absurd silliness of the situation. The obsessive nature of these men can only be described as fanatical. There’s is a labour of love and a way of life which gives way to a number of un-intentionally funny and at times disturbing moments (cue Weibe ignoring the distressed wailing of his child whilst toiling away on his arcade machine).

The simplistic nature of retro games such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man (which I’m sure will have some viewers thinking back to a time of computer games before PC’s and home consoles) seems to have been lost on many of these guys, who are just too over the top in their passion for gaming.

Yet to them this is serious business, and none more so than for the devious Billy Mitchell, whose hypocritical nature, lack of credibility, and overall slimy demeanour makes him an equally disgusting and compelling character that only real life could spawn. This is a great documentary, possibly the best of its sort so far this year.