For being one of the biggest entertainment industries ever (i.e. bigger than film), videogames is a subject that has sadly taken a long time to hit into mainstream film and culture. Enter King of Kong: a deceptively named doco that finally sheds light on an area that’s undeservedly disregarded – retro videogames.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) is a documentary written and directed by Seth Gordon. It follows two serious rivals – Billy Mitchell, iconic 80s video game champion and Steve Wiebe, talented newcomer – who, over several months, duelled to a bitter end over the world record of classic arcade machine Donkey Kong.
A serious and dramatic approach to something that many people are going to scoff at, A Fistful of Quarters is basically a must-watch for anyone mildly interested in the classic videogame scene. The film upholds and respects the source material, treating it as something both worthwhile and incredibly serious, imbuing this film with a surprising level of tension and stakes. Not only are both the leads of Wiebe and Mitchell compelling and intriguing in their own right, the climax of the film feels like exactly that – a climax. No small feat in a documentary.
One of the best docos I have ever seen, A Fistful of Quarters mashes serious drama, great characters, brilliant pacing and an intelligent understanding of what makes its subject matter interesting.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Must-see
True Believers (Retro Gaming): Must-see