The King of Kong Review


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters



Seth Gordon

Release Date:

April 21 2007










Straight to the Point:

So as the section title clearly states, this little paragraph will be a short wrap up of the rest of the review. You can continue reading for specifics.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a documentary that is both interesting, and compelling, in the way that it sets up the plot and the characters, and the atmosphere of the professional arcade championships.


The Review:


The Story:

Being a documentary, the story of this film (as per it's genre) is what will likely determine whether it is good or bad. Luckily for this film, the story is excellent and suspenseful, and will likely keep you interested the whole way through.

The story focuses around two main people, one being the protagonist, Steve Wiebe, who is attempting to set a new world record for the highest score achieved in the arcade game Donkey Kong. The other personnage of concern in the film is the always cocky, Billy Mitchell.

These two people are the real point of interest to the film. While the world record is what drives the plot forwards, the relationship (or lack thereof) is what really keeps your interest in the film. The way that the film depicts these two men is done excellently, even though there is a definite bias towards Wiebe. Basically, here's how the two men break down:

Steve Wiebe: Wiebe is a high school teacher that has a wife, and two children. He lives a modest life, and takes particular interest in Donkey Kong. Even while he trains to become the best, he still takes time to be sociable, despite appearing shy.

Billy Mitchell: Mitchell is a salesman, he sells a BBQ sauce that also is served in his own restaurant. He wears a USA tie and is portrayed as an cocky man with no decency or morals.


The difference between these two men is what creates the desire to watch the events unfold within the movie. Without spoiling too much, the story line has a consistent build up that results in an ending that is as much of a kick in the crotch as it is a trumphant victory.


The Execution:

Now a great must not only have a great story, but also be able to create a watchable and interesting piece of video to watch. Again, this film exceeds in this category. The actual events are shot well, and while this is nothing to write home about, it still is well done.

The film is mostly shots of the events being described. If an actor is speaking about it in an interview, the film makers made sure they found either some old footage or at least some pictures. There is also a great number of interviews with various people, including the two stars and Walter Day, who is the referee for all things arcade.

The film makers did an excellent job of making sure that the film keeps an atmosphere that makes the person feel close to the actual event yet manages to inject some humour to keep the film from seeming overtly dull in areas, and to keep the audiences attention.


The Cast:

Being a documentary, not much has to be said about the cast, since they all act as themselves. One thing that should be mentioned is that the movie does an excellent job of fleshing out the majority of the main people discussed in the film. There were only a few that I had to look up some more information on, but other than that it was great.


The Atmosphere:

I've already talked about this breifly, but I'll reiterate. The atmosphere of this film is very fitting and captures what they should have captured. The arcades feel flashy, and full of that "sterotypical" crowd. The times that Wiebe is on screen seem to take a light hearted feeling to emphasize his role in the story, and the scenes with Mitchell either seem dirty, greasy, or just plain uneasy / unsettling.


The Verdict:

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a wonderful documentary about the struggle of Steve Wiebe versus Billy Mitchell for Donkey Kong supremacy. The story is well done, the excecution is excellent and the film uses these two men to ultimately symbolize the struggle of Good versus Evil.

Score: 5 / 5 stars

Status: Rent this, buy it, do whatever you need to to watch this film. It's a great film for gamers and non-gamers alike.

Josh Kowbel's picture

I do agree that Billy Mitchell is a complete douche, and I did find this documentary amusing, mostly because these guys try to keep a record for a game very few people actually care or even know about.

Crappa's picture

Several grammatical mistakes, particular uncertainties and confusing wording at some parts, but all in all a very well written review. Also it would have been nice if you elaborated more on the film.

explicit_baron's picture

this is a great documentary, it needs a sequel. Any other good gaming documentaries

Mason_M's picture


I haven't personally seen any but I found this site that lists some.

If you like documentaries in general, I would highly recommend Restrepo (review soon) and Bowling For Columbine (WARNING: It' made by Micheal Moore). Actually, I like anything from Micheal Moore, despite his extreme bias.

I also recenlty watched Supersize Me! It was sick, and self destructive, but some parts were actually informative. Plus, Spurlock also made "Where in the world is Osama Bin Laden" about a year ago.

brodyitis's picture

@explicit baron

From Russia with love is pretty good. It's about the origin of Tetris.

explicit_baron's picture

@brodyitis thanks I watched it, crazy how a game got so intertwined with politics and large sums of money. The closest game that did that was probably Call of Duty.

brodyitis's picture

@explicit baron

No problem man, glad you liked it.

Create New Account or Log in to comment