The King Of Kong // Film

October 12, 2009


I can now count the number of good videogaming films I’ve seen on one finger. Back in the 90s, when the SNES and Megadrive were spearheading a resurgence in the medium, we had such delights as ‘Super Mario Bros.‘, ‘Street Fighter‘ and ‘Mortal Kombat‘, none of which were even close to achieving the legendary status in film as their namesakes did in videogaming.

Perhaps they were doing it wrong. It seems that the way to make a film about videogames that doesn’t stink is to make a documentary of people playing videogames, instead of tacking on your half-baked plot ideas onto existing intellectual property.

The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters is a hugely compelling account of one man’s quest to become the best at the legendary arcade classic Donkey Kong, widely regarded as the hardest of the old-school arcade cabinets. His name is Steve Wiebe, a middle-school science teacher who has never excelled at anything he has tried his hand at, who views being number one at Donkey Kong as his last chance to define, and redeem, himself. Standing in his way is Billy Mitchell, a ‘winner’, whose high score on Donkey Kong hasn’t been bettered in over two decades. Standing at polar opposites of the moral spectrum, it’s clear who is the hero and who is the villain, and the film follows the gripping tug-of-war for the Donkey Kong crown, taking in weighty themes such as family friction, double-standards and the earning of respect along the way.

It’s a great film, and just as relevant to the non-gamers as it is to those who love this hobby. I heartily recommend checking it out.


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