Documentary Review: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

Release Date: March 25th, 2007 (Dallas International Film Festival)
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Written by: Seth Gordon
Music by: Craig Richey
Cast: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Walter Day

Large Lab, Picturehouse, Dendy Cinemas, 79 Minutes

Review:

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. I play video games, which I think is a far superior addiction to any of those other ones.” – Adam Wood

Back when this came out in 2007, I was enthralled by it. In fact, I bought the DVD and watched it quite a bit, which is strange for me in that it’s a documentary.

However, this true story is just as good as a great work of fiction. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction or at least, more interesting than it.

In the case of Donkey Kong rivals Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, we were given something so human, endearing and intriguing that it rivaled the best films of its year of release. Strangely, it didn’t even get nominated by the Academy for Best Documentary.

I guess movies about middle-aged dudes playing retro video games isn’t as politically and socially starved for as movies about dolphins, rainforests and some old, hermit dude that spent his entire life crafting a violin out of garbage. No, this is actually more important than all of that as it shows the triumph of the human spirit and how even a regular Joe can overcome the odds and topple a giant and a system that’s working against him.

Steve Wiebe is a hero and you truly get a sense of that while watching this. On the flipside of that, Billy Mitchell is one hell of a villain and his personality and charisma rivals that of the greatest heel managers in professional wrestling history. At the same time, looking passed all of Mitchell’s shady shenanigans, you can’t not help but like the guy. He’s f’n charming and he’s doing his damnedest to protect his legacy, even if that means cheating and using his power and influence to great advantage.

This is just a fantastic story about a guy that is great at something, finally stepping up to get recognized for it, while the man who feels threatened by him, does everything he can to hold him down. Who will win? You have to watch this and find out.

The King of Kong is heartwarming and heartbreaking at different points. But most importantly, it is one of my favorite documentaries ever made.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: other video game/gaming documentaries like Chasing Ghosts and Special When Lit.