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King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
DVD disk
Jan 23, 2008 By: JimmyO
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters order
Director:
Seth Gordon

Actors:
Steve Wiebe
Billy Mitchell
Walter Day

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two men, one video game. It’s Steve Wiebe and his attempts to break the record for the most points at Donkey Kong. Sounds like all fun and games until we find out that Mr. Wiebe has an enemy… Billy Mitchell. And it’s a documentary.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Move over Javier Bardem, there seems to be a new villain in town. Billy Mitchell is a champion at several video games including Donkey Kong. But he comes across here as a mean, vindictive and conniving man who will stop at nothing to be the very best. Although some may just call him a perfectionist. Steve Wiebe is a family man who is looking to beat Mr. Mitchell’s score and succeeds. Thus, it begins… a battle with a little Italian man named Mario, at odds with a giant monkey, one which kidnapped Mario’s girl. You see Billy Mitchell as a man who seems to not want to show any respect for another, better player. When the two men are supposed to meet to fight for the high score in the Guinness Book of World Records, he won’t face his enemy. While Steve makes an honest attempt to beat the record for only one little game, and Billy is the best at many. It makes this simple game a dirty and manipulative fight with several people ready to protect the reigning champ against any would be competitors.

I was surprised at how fascinating the world of classic arcade video games is. When Mr. Wiebe mails a submission of his breaking a million on the Kong, it is treated as if it is a fake. Two men are covertly sent to inspect his machine to make sure it is not a fraud. They hoodwinked and bamboozled his poor babysitting mother-in-law in order to dissect his machine. Bad, bad, bad. But when it is Mr. Mitchell submitting by mail, it’s all good, few questions asked. I found Steve, the family man, the teacher and lover of games to be a very likeable hero. While Billy plays out the role of a lecherous and manipulative man with all his minions ready to report. It is such an exciting battle, and both characters are incredibly fun to watch. Director Seth Gordon seems like he had a bit of a genie in a bottle here as the tale unfolded. What could have been a simple pair of geeks playing video games becomes a funny, exciting and irreverent story of good versus evil.

While there are other stories explored here, like Doris Self who passed away back in 2006. She was out to win the high score in Q-bert. She seemed like a sweet lady who also might have brought an interesting take on this world. And Walter Day, a referee who takes his job of searching for video game records very seriously. Both make for a thrilling adventure with a ton of laughs. There is much good in King of Kong, including a sweet soundtrack with classic tunes like Animotion and their hit “Obsession”, and of course Survivor and “Eye of the Tiger“. Kick arse baby. The fact that these filmmakers were able to make video games this thrilling is an impressive achievement. Mr. Wiebe, the sensitive family man who easily sheds a tear. Mr. Mitchell, the man with a taste for ties with an American flag, and a hot sauce franchise. Both in a quest for power that may destroy those involved!!! Okay, that may be a bit of an extreme statement. But still, this is a must see for anyone. You need not be the type that would frequent an arcade to have a blast with King of Kong. And don’t forget… this is a documentary.
THE EXTRAS
The DVD for King of Kong hit’s a high score with Special Features. The first is an update on the current Donkey Kong situation with < b>The Saga Continues (1:35). It is basically just a Star Wars type opening scroll on what happened after the film.

Next up are two very entertaining Commentaries. One with Director Seth Gordon, Producer Ed Cunningham and Associate Producers Clay Tweel and Luis Lopez. This is full of facts about how they discovered the story they were searching for. It is a terrific listen and I loved the insight they gave. I also enjoyed the second commentary with Chris Carle, the Entertainment Director at IGN and Jon M. Gibson who is the founder of i am 8-bit. Both of these dudes offer some very funny moments that include comparing a few shots in the film to the Catch a Predator show. Yeah, they didn’t offer much more than that type of fun, but it is a blast to hear them talk about Billy Mitchell’s possible hickey in an old photo shoot.

Do you want to know more? Here are several other moments of Bonus Features (51:40) that didn’t quite make the final cut. They include Mr. Awesome and the many dates he found after posing in Playgirl Magazine. More footage of Mr. Wiebe on the drums. And also a listen to some of the songs he has written. We get look at a few Q and A’s after screenings of King of Kong which includes many questions on the whereabouts of Mr. Mitchell. One of the best extras here is an interview with Steve Sanders, the lawyer friend of Billy, who explains some of the reasons why people didn’t believe Wiebe actually beat the record. It is very interesting but I would love to see an interview with Billy Mitchell, and hear more of his story. And you can also enjoy these extra tidbits with the enjoyable commentary of Chris Carle and Jon M. Gibson.

The bonus material includes, “Festival Q & A’s”, “Steve Sanders Reacts”, “The Stylings of Billy Mitchell”, “Roy Awesome Disinformation Clip”, “The Music of Steven J. Wiebe”, “Walter Day Profile”, “Video Game Wizard - Music Video”, “Twin Galaxies News Update”, “Steve’s DK Strategies” and a “Side By Side Gameplay” comparison. All of these are a must watch.

Want more interviews? With these Extended Interviews (41:51) you can hear more tales from Billy Mitchell, Steve Sanders, Robert Mruczek, Brian Kuh, Greg Bond, Joel Hedge, Dwayne Richard, Mark Alpiger, Todd Rogers, Doris Self and Abdner Ashman. Again, this is all fun times and worth a look, for a little more insight from the other “players”.

How about A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong which is almost all you need to know about the game (well, except maybe how to play it), in just over one minute. It is really, really brief and really, really fun.

Next up is a remote point and click that is interesting. It is an Arcade Glossery to help you with your Kong terminology.

i am 8-bit is a little information about the website that specializes in retro gaming.

Finally, we get a Theatrical Trailer and a few Sneak Peeks including “Be Kind Rewind”, “Harold and Kumar 2”, “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”, “Appleseed Saga Ex Machina” and “Justice League of America: New Frontier”. And it also has a fun 2-sided DVD front cover for your enjoyment.

And in case all of that wasn’t enough, there are a few fun DVD ROM/Online Features. All in all, this disc is too much fun.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is an insightful and extremely entertaining documentary on the power of a giant monkey, and the quest many have taken on to defeat him. The filmmakers wisely chose to follow the story of Steve Wiebe, a family man who spends too much time in front of a Donkey Kong machine. And, Billy Mitchell, a mysterious maker of hot sauce and constant high scorer of said game. It is gleefully fun with it’s exploration of the world of classic arcade gaming. A must see for anyone and you need not be a Donkey Kong extremist to enjoy.
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