STARRING: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Walter Day, Robert Mruczek, Brian Kuh, Steve Sanders, Roy Shildt, Todd Rogers, Greg Bond, Doris Self and the Wiebe family
EARNED (Worldwide): $0.79m
Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games.
This ‘documentary’ dives into the world of gaming, primarily following a teacher from Washington, D.C attempting to break the world record for arcade game Donkey Kong, which has been held by a video game legend named Billy Mitchell for almost twenty-five years.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a pretty simple premise for a documentary that I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to watch but one night I decided to give it a go and within an hour I was completely immersed in this almost cinematic style storyline of an ordinary guy taking on a world record held from a man that has been living off his well earned glorified success for over twenty years and the trials and tribulations the man has to go through in order to break the world record. Now since the documentaries release, there’s been alot of discussion on how the final version has been structured together, with Walter Day of Twin Galaxies siting inaccuracies with the documentary, such as Billy Mitchell’s video tape that became the new world record was in the end rejected, while director Seth Gordon however claims to have painted Billy Mitchell as a more-light character, saying he ‘so much worse than we painted him out to be’. That quote from Gordon makes the Billy Mitchell angle interesting as the way he comes across in this documentary is the most talked about angle and from my opinion, nobody makes Billy Mitchell look bad but Billy Mitchell, I mean having his own protege turn up at Wiebe’s home, uninvited, told to clear off more or less, they still make their way into the home and strip Wiebe’s machine, contesting its ‘faulty circuit board’ without valid proof to strip him of his world record. Then there’s having his friends (‘disciples’ as other people would call them) give him constant updates on Steve Wiebe’s scores, making sure Wiebe doesn’t see Billy Mitchell’s videotape of the breaking his world record and turning down several times of meeting Wiebe calling him out. Wiebe comes across as a decent guy who through years of just never being able to break through the ceiling, his attempt to breaking the world record at Donkey Kong becomes an obsession (OCD is mentioned though to be fair), especially as it keeps being taken away from him in some shape or form. The King of Kong is a surprisingly engaging documentary worth your time, even if you’re not into gaming.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell are finally in the same room together. Body language says alot more than words.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame. I wanted the pretty girls to come up and say, “Hi, I see that you’re good at Centipede.”’ – Walter Day
DID YOU KNOW?: Several of those depicted in the documentary, including Wiebe and Mitchell themselves, claim that it does not accurately depict events. For example, Wiebe and Mitchell were, and still are, on much friendlier terms than is suggested, and another player’s record was in place during some of the events but is omitted. The director has conceded to many of these claims in statements, arguing that the fictionalized account is more entertaining.