The King of Kong
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Reviews & Ratings for
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters More at IMDbPro »The King of Kong (original title)

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As with many films of this nature, the winner of the competition takes a backseat...

Author: bmn-2 from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
26 January 2008

This movie will surprise anyone *expecting* a film about socially-starved geeks toiling over something no one else cares about. While some are found, the film ends up being-- as one other commenter pointed out-- much more Shakespearean than that. I could care less about the video game world but for the 80 minutes I watched/watch this film, I care quite a bit about the people in this movie.

First off, I do not feel this film vilifies Billy Mitchell, holder of the Donkey Kong high score record for over 20 years. Instead, it brilliantly depicts he and record-chaser Steve Wiebe as two men each battling insecurity. As the film starts, Mitchell is completely in control of his insecurity (his then-well-hidden fear that his last record will fall) while Wiebe is completely flummoxed by his (despite being so well-accomplished, he was never "the best" at anything).

As the film plays out, Mitchell's insecurity gradually increases as he sees that Wiebe is a genuine threat. Meanwhile, Wiebe starts meek (he has to be talked into pursuing the issue by friends and Mitchell's enemies). But the more Wiebe pursues it, the more he begins to see himself for the true competitor he is. I won't spoil the film in terms of who gets the record but the big story is: Wiebe gains more piece of mind from showing up for live competition than he does from having his record in a book.

I also recommend watching for more subtle moments that might elude the casual viewer. These moments reveal how even if/as/when Mitchell holds the record, he loses small amounts of respect from his allies, who comprise the inner circle of the gaming world. Even as they pledge their allegiance to him, there are little quotes and gestures of admiration to Steve that demonstrate their recognition that their friend is becoming more cowardly. One of my fave moments is a quick and subtle moment when Mitchell leaves Wiebe sitting playing games and Mitchell's (seemingly) trophy wife glances at Steve for an ever-so-brief second. It seems that even she realizes that it is Steve and not her husband that is proving himself the competitor regardless of who holds the record.

The film does contain those other gestures that make the audience want to root for Steve (his rapport with his family and friends, his 'aw shucks' demeanour and what position is more honourable than that of a teacher?). However, Billy is shown to have positive traits as well-- he is a top notch businessman and motivator. His words of encouragement to an 80+ year old woman pursuing the Q-Bert record show his more positive energy. It's just his misfortune that this film mostly captures an emotionally fragile state in his life. The film (and this is a credit to director Seth Gordon) actually plays with you in this way: while part of you wants Steve to break the record to shut Billy up, another part of you wants Billy to show up for the mano-a-mano so that he can overcome his own insecurity and just have a good honest competition.

The most entertaining competitions, whether it be the Olympics, football, chess, etc. usually tell human stories to make them transcend their otherwise meaningless or unimportant qualities. For 80 minutes, Seth Gordon helps the video game world do just that.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

classic arcade madness

Author: PaulyC from Los Angeles, CA
6 October 2008

This is a well made Documentary about a mans attempt to break the world record score of the classic arcade game, Donkey Kong. That man is Steve Wiebe of Washington who is a nice, honest, family man who always felt he fell short in life in a few ways. The current record holder is Billy Mitchell of Hollywood, Florida, who rose to fame in the 80's by becoming a master at Donkey Kong. The camera's follow him as he is today and his arrogance practically drips off the screen. He brags how a true champion of any game or sport can only really prove himself in a live situation in front of others yet he dodges chances to play at tournaments all the time. One such tournament is one right there in Hollywood, Florida where Steve Wiebe was planning on taking on the record. I won't tell you the outcome but will tell you that even if you were never interested in video games you might just like this film, but of course, you'll like it even more as a fan of classic arcade games. Good Stuff!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Two Amazing Gamers and one Fantastic Documentary

Author: ElijahCSkuggs from Happy Land, who lives in a Gumdrop House on Lolly Pop Lane
15 July 2008

First off, it's been a long-ass time since I've felt so strongly for a person in a film.

Actually it was for Bob Flanagan in his documentary: SICK: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist. That movie made me seriously feel for the main personality, and just like for Bob, I felt a similar emotion for Steve Weibe, our hero in The King of Kong.

The two are completely different characters and enact two different types of emotional reaction, but both share a very important aspects: they were both unique and genuine people. So, if you're looking for a documentary or a film that delivers some serious emotion and human drama, look no further.

The King of Kong is about the story of Steve Weibe and Billy Mitchell. Both are incredibly talented classic video-game players. Billy first exploded onto the scene way back when, solidifying himself as the only really hardcore and amazing Donkey Kong player. He's also godly at Pac-Man and a bunch of others.

Years later a man named Steve Weibe, crashed onto the scene and made his name as a remarkable Donkey Kong player. The King of Kong follows these two men through their lives and their quest to become/maintain legend as being the best of the best at the classic video game Donkey Kong.

Steve Weibe is you're good guy in the film and Billy Mitchell becomes your bad guy. I say "become" because when the movie started you're not against him in any way. He was a weird looking kid who managed to neglect his greasy look and instead used his uber-confidence and strong will to become the first champion of DKong. But Billy does eventually become the baddie. Not because he's a truly evil person, but mostly because he's being compared to Steve.

Steve is without a doubt, in my mind, a genuine, caring person, who seems to only give off good vibes and intentions. A family man to a T.

On the other hand, Billy through his unwavering confidence and serious out-look on life, molds a very business-like and even political type personality. With Steve seriously focused on his goal of beating Billy's score, and Billy just kind of hoping and sitting back, seeming like he doesn't care that much to compete again, the movie easily chooses sides.

Billy would consistently speak in the third person, "BillY Mitchell always has a plan.", and he slicks his hair back in a manner of "holier-than-thou" attitude. Hell, he even bought his wife gigantic fake breasts. The man truly has developed a good life for himself. It's no shame to let the score die away. But Billy still has a competitive gaming side, but one that doesn't step up to the plate like he used to during his real gaming days. He's also serious in his approach to Donkey Kong...perhaps too serious.

Through his own characteristics, he becomes the "bad guy" of this film. When in reality he's not really a bad guy, but just a less than perfect person when compared to Steve Weibe, who truly seems like he's doing the right things in life. Being a nice guy is where it's at in the big scheme of things, and Steve is the definition of a nice guy.

The King of Kong is a fantastic documentary. But not without it's faults. The movie does not completely share every bit of truth. Scenes where you're led to believe one thing based on the movie are very inaccurate and if you do a little research (look at the TwinGalaxies forum) you'll easily see that Billy isn't the bad guy you're led to believe he is. He still remains the "baddie", but you'll come to see that he's not the complete, narcissistic jerk you're led to believe he is.

It sheds light on two completely different men who share an undying thirst to be the best Donkey Kong player in history. One is more family oriented, and the other, slightly more professional in nature.

Nevertheless the two are both unique and both entertaining.

Don't look any further if you have a love for games and fantastic film, this delivers on all accounts. And if anyone reading this is a Donkey Kong player. Good luck, you're gonna need it.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Reality is what you make it.

Author: chadsticks from Australia
15 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sophists may condescend to argue that 'there are two sides to every story' and deny that there are social realities that may be found if we have the time to look hard enough. There is a human tendency to 'root for the underdog' and to see those established in their power as 'evil' for doing whatever they need to do to maintain it. I would like to call to the readers attention the underlying theme: weak vs. strong on a playing field that is not only unlevel but one in which chance plays a greater role that is at first obvious. I would like to describe the film as one that portrays the illusion of justice that many people find it necessary to maintain, as the Darwinian reality that we inhabit can otherwise be too harsh.

King of Kong (KoK) is A documentary, one of many that could have been made, though one in which the under dog wins out. There are many similar stories out there in which various permutations in the essential twists and turns of the plot worked out differently (not unnecessarily about a Donkey Kong battle). These stories may or may not have had documentaries made about them. If Steve hadn't have won, would the documentary have been made? Stories about the under dog who almost wins are not the sort of 'escape' that people are willing to part with their money to be exposed to. Market forces dictate that GENERALLY we see more stories about the winner who almost lost. Some times the weak do win (look at VHS vs. Betamax) due to better off field strengths. But in KoK, the person with weaker off field strengths and stronger in game skills HAPPENS to win out. It could easily have been different. So there is a big element of 'choice of story' rather than 'choice of edit' that is at play here.

By chance Steve and Billy were both born with genes and to environments that allowed them to get to where they are today. So, to the specious reasoners, the word-smiths, lawyer types, PR types and all their sidekicks out there writing reviews on this film, remember, you can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The most moving documentary I've seen all year

Author: Superunknovvn from Austria, Vienna
6 February 2008

"SiCKO" and "No End In Sight" were both well-made documentaries that have been released in 2007. The first was rather emotionally driven, as usual with Michael Moore's movies, the latter was purely based on facts and well-researched. Both had the best intentions and touched topics of great social importance and conflict (the health system in the U.S. and the invasion of Iraque, respectively). Both pointed out great suffering that was due to political grievances. Still, neither of those documentaries moved me as much as "The King Of Kong" did, a movie about a guy trying to beat the high score world record at "Donkey Kong". What does that tell you about me? Or rather, what does it tell you about "The King Of Kong"? The story of Steve Wiebe who tries to become the new "Donkey Kong"-world champion is rather laughable at first. As he breaks the record again and again, though, and none of his accomplishments are acknowledged by the snobbish (and completely nerdy) gamer community, we start to care about this, too. As Wiebe himself put it, it's really not about "Donkey Kong" anymore.

Having said that, I have no idea how manipulative "The King Of Kong" really is. Wiebe's adversary Billy Mitchell and all his disciples are clearly the bad guys here. If they are portrayed the way they really are, then, Jesus Christ, these are the most sorry people this side of "World Of Warcraft". The fun thing, though, is that you become just like one of them as you root for Wiebe to finally break Mitchell's questionable high score in public. You get all emotional and feel for the movie's hero and it isn't an accident that director Seth Gordon uses "The Eye Of The Tiger" and other sports drama-montage songs more than once. This really feels like "Rocky "in the end.

So, if you want to find your inner video game nerd, go see "The King Of Kong". Just promise yourself you'll leave it all behind as soon as the credits roll.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A genre we can all relate to by now... "art" about "art"

Author: scarmpls from United States
23 April 2010

The King of Kong is a documentary-style film about a continuing modern-day subculture of a subculture: Arcade gaming wars. The game: Donkey Kong. The characters: a long-time record holder for the highest score on Donkey Kong, and an up-and-comer.

If you like video gaming, you might like this film. If you like or liked arcade video gaming from the 70's, 80's, and today then you'll probably get a kick out of it. If you are looking for a new area of the web to get completely obsessed with so you can avoid your own pathetic life you'll probably find some direction. If you are into conspiracy theories and fancy that most people are all out to get you then you'll get a 2-hour media meal.

I mention these queries for the reader because, at one point or another in the film, I felt drawn to each of the above-named subgroups. To me, that spells, "Effective Film".

There's a lot of drama (real or not)and intensity that was added by the makers of this film to make an uninteresting-to-watch subject (grown men spending hours standing in front of a casket-sized electronic trance-enhancer) into an entertaining film.

Personally, I'm not the kind of guy who likes to be entertained for entertainment's sake (except when I'm playing video games), so I gave it 6 of 10 stars.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"You're the best around, nothing's gonna ever keep you down"

Author: RainDogJr from Mexico City
2 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was just because of its title that this 2007 Seth Gordon film, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (isn't the title one of the great ones?), gained my entire attention when it was listed in IMDb as a new release. Since then and after reading more or less about it The King of Kong became one of my most wanted films.

During last year's December I saw for the very first time the South Park 2007 episode More Crap and it became immediately one of my favourite South Park episodes of all time. Why I'm mentioning this? Well, and actually while seeing that episode back in December, without having seen yet Seth Gordon's 2007 film certainly, I never had in my mind The King of Kong (why would I?) so it was a total surprise to find out, by listening to the DVD commentary of the South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, that the main storyline of More Crap was based on The King of Kong (after hearing that fact I was like "damn, I really must check out that film"). The main storyline of More Crap is the classic story of the man that is a nobody "fighting" against the super star and everything that surround the star, in that case was Stan's dad Randy against Bono and certainly Randy was the Steve Wiebe and Bono the Billy Mitchell but Randy wasn't trying to achieve a video game world record but he was trying to… enough said, check out that awesome episode!

Now, I have never played the classic Donkey Kong (the first Mario Bros video game ever) or in other words, thanks to this film I heard for the very first time about Billy Mitchell, Walter Day (and Twin Galaxies, the Gunnies bock of records ) and about everyone else in the film. But this, like others have pointed out, is not just for video games fans, at one point Wiebe says something like "I think it is not more about Donkey Kong", certainly is about getting the deserved recognition at something. But this is also for anyone since is just extremely entertaining, always great fun with the story of Twin Galaxies, the stuff about one of the hardest games ever, etc.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

What's the whole truth behind this? Who knows--but it's still a dandy documentary

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
7 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. This film took me a bit by surprise as I never realized people cared so much about establishing and maintaining records for best classic video game scores! In the scheme of things, this all seems rather unimportant to the average viewer--it certainly was to me. However, despite the seemingly mundane aspects of such a record, there is quite a lot to this documentary.

Before discussing what the film asserts, I should point out that there is a lot of controversy about the fairness and accuracy of the film. The "bad guy" in the film (Billy Mitchell) contends that he's been terribly misrepresented as does Twin Galaxies, an organization that maintains and verifies records of these games. I have no idea who is totally right and totally wrong, though even if the documentary has a bias (which, I'm sure it does), the film is an amazing psychological study of two very strange men--Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell.

As for Wiebe, he's portrayed as an underdog--a family man who is a nice guy and who is fighting against the combined weight of Mitchell and Twin Galaxies. However, I was stunned how Wiebe "checked out" on his family--spending all his time playing the game even when he was out of work. Even though Wiebe later seemingly broke the world record for Donkey Kong (an event comparable to curing cancer or bringing world peace according to some), it sure seemed as if Mitchell and Twin Galaxies took it very, very personally. That's because once Wiebe videotaped himself breaking the record and was told by a Twin Galavies judge that it was verified, an unusual step occurred--friends of Mitchell (the old record holder and video game god) showed up on behalf of this organization to inspect Wiebe's machine--seemingly forcing themselves into the Wiebe household like the SS. I have no idea how forceful this really was (the film makes it seem pretty nasty), but the bottom line is now they didn't want to count the record because Wiebe was associated with a rogue gamer (????). However, this is a seemingly unprecedented step AND Mitchell's records that were on tape were accepted without question--and it seemed like the film implied that Mitchell and Twin Galaxies were working together.

The problem gets worse, as in response, Wiebe attends an annuals gamers event and tries to set the record in public so there would be no doubt. He succeeded, but the whole thing looked amazingly sleazy--with a Mitchell minion (Brian Kuh) watching every move Wiebe made AND talking to Mitchell across the country by phone throughout--all of which you actually get to see in the film as it's happening. The Twin Galaxies folks, too, talked to Mitchell during this record-breaking event--an odd relationship in that they extended this favor to Mitchell. Once Wiebe breaks the record in public, one of Mitchell's supporters brought out an old videotape that Mitchell made a long time ago but "forgot to send to Twin Galaxies" in which he surpasses Wiebe's new record. This seemed amazingly convenient and although the videotape was a bit fuzzy, Mitchell's new score was accepted without further review--the crowd was not allowed to watch it again and Mitchell's machine was not personally examined and taken apart. Talk about a stacked deck!!

Now to me, who is the greatest Donkey Kong player is unimportant. What's fascinating is to watch Mitchell, as he APPEARS to be a rather angry man who seems to run Twin Galaxies as well as use his "posse" to do his dirty work--this is so weird. Early in the film, he talks like a nice guy and wishes others luck in surpassing his records. His actions on the film say otherwise. If this is the true picture of Mitchell, then the documentary does a great job of exposing him as well as his ultra-tight relationship with Twin Galaxies. If it isn't, then I feel sorry for him--at least to a point. Some of his actions simply seem indefensible.

The film makers set out to make Wiebe the hero and underdog and in this sense, they were very successful. After reading through the internet (including the Twin web site), I STILL am not sure of the truth, though Mitchell did not acquit himself well in the film. If he's not a sore loser, the film sure painted him as one. A fascinating and compelling portrait--though I still think the whole record thing is pretty silly. After all, in the scheme of things, it all just doesn't seem that important and it is supposed to be a game!

PS--One of the funnier and more pathetic parts of the film really didn't have to do with either Mitchell or Wiebe. One guy is talking about his love for Centipede and desire to set a world record because he felt it would "get him chicks"--dream on!!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Battle to Be Mr. Kong

Author: evanston_dad from United States
29 February 2008

A film that will make you ask the question: "Are there really people like this living out there in the world?"

"The King of Kong" chronicles the ongoing rivalry between two celebrities of the video gaming world: nice guy Steve Wiebe (pronounced WEE-bee) and jackass Billy Mitchell, world record holder for his Donkey Kong score. Our sympathies easily lie with Wiebe, who just wants to break into the gaming competition world but who has trouble being accepted by the insular world of nerds who populate it. Mitchell is portrayed as a sad, pathetic man who has a lot of trouble finding ties to match his shirts, and who didn't get the memo that feathered hair and black jeans were last seen in 1982. He acts like holding the world record in Donkey Kong defines him as a human being, and he refuses to face off against Wiebe in public.

The movie is absolutely hilarious. Part of me wants to feel bad for making fun of these guys, but the rest of me thinks that if they didn't want to be made fun of, they shouldn't have put themselves out there in the first place. And I have to admit that I admire them all in a way -- after all, they commit themselves to something that's important to them and whatever anyone thinks about it be damned.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Awesome, who makes home videos of himself dressed up as Mr. Awesome giving lessons on how to go about scoring some "poon tang." You won't believe this movie wasn't made 25 years ago.

Movies like this make a fictional movie like "Waiting for Guffman" seem entirely plausible.

Grade: A

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

What Documentaries SHOULD Be!

Author: tillzen from United States
9 June 2008

I've never played a video game, but I totally GOT this film. Often comedy films attempt to shows geeks, nerds, and outsiders, but here you will see them in their actual environment. Funny, pathetic, and hopeless, though wildly entertaining! I only wish I could follow up on these characters, as this story is clearly not over. EVERY obsessive father should see this, as well as anyone who thinks of themselves as "geek chic". Special props should be to the filmmakers for their editing and camera work.Heroes become villains, and the films largest moments are subtle. When you hear of reality TV folks complaining of how the editing made them look, you will reminded of how naked obsessed people become when exposed to daylight. Hurrah!

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