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King of Kong, The: A Fistful of Quarters (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/06/2008

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

Hugely enjoyable, thoroughly engaging documentary that's both laugh-out-loud funny and nail-bitingly suspenseful. It's also one of the best films of the year.

What's it all about?
Directed by Seth Gordon, The King of Kong starts out by introducing us to luxuriously-maned Billy Mitchell (stop laughing at the back there, EastEnders fans), a local celebrity and hot sauce mogul who has built his entire sense of self on the fact that he has held the high score on arcade classic Donkey Kong for the past twenty years. The film then introduces a challenger: happily married (and possibly slightly autistic) family man and science teacher Steve Wiebe, who sends a videotape of himself beating Billy's high score to the supposedly independent judges at Twin Galaxies (the gaming world's official score-keepers, presided over by kindly old hippie Walter Day).

However, Billy isn't ready to give up his title without a fight and he strong-arms his Twin Galaxies cronies into getting Steve's score disqualified. Steve then travels 3,000 miles and beats Billy's score on an officially recognised Donkey Kong machine, in front of a crowd...but Billy has even more tricks up his sleeve.

The Good
Similar in structure to last year's Air Guitar Nation, The King of Kong is utterly delightful from beginning to end, thanks to the compelling contrast between Billy's raging egomania and Steve's likeable everyman persona. Gordon is careful to show Billy's kinder side (such as buying an old lady a Q-Bert machine) but the depths to which he stoops in order to keep his record are nothing short of jaw-dropping, ensuring that the audience is behind Steve all the way.

The Great
Aside from the incredibly tense gaming sequences, the film is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and ultimately rather moving, as even Billy's cronies eventually recognise how nice a guy Steve is and feel guilty for mistreating him.

Worth seeing?
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a hugely enjoyable documentary that's well worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

King of Kong, The: A Fistful of Quarters (PG)
King of Kong, The: A Fistful of Quarters has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 18/10/2017 08:37

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