VIDEO: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

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Listen up, gamers! In this episode, David looks at the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a hilarious glimpse into the cutthroat world of retro arcade competitions. Two champions of the classic game Donkey Kong face off, and only one can be crowned king! This review also delves into the background of the film, the origin of the Donkey Kong game itself, and how it put Nintendo on the map.

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  • MephLord

    This is one of my favorite documentaries. Good job on reviewing it. Billy Mitchell definitely did not portray himself in a good light during the movie and was a good heel.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    Simply an outstanding presentation.
    King of Kong is also very good.

  • Muthsarah

    Another spectacular production, David. You are one of the very best video reviewers I know of (and following video reviews is MY nerdly hobby). I haven’t seen the doc, though I remember hearing a lot about it when it came out. I should add it to my list of films to see; I remember playing the game as a kid (on the NES, though). Sounds like a fun doc, though I am a bit worried about how the director admits he skewed things. That’s…always a very sticky issue.

    • $36060516

      Werner Herzog is even worse. Watched a documentary about documentaries (!) in which Herzog freely confesses to setting up scenes for the person to act out and redesigns rooms, setting up props that weren’t there to tell the story he wants to tell.

      • MichaelANovelli

        Documentaries have been at least partially fictionalized since the very beginning. Ever see Nanook of the North? Completely scripted from start to finish…

        • $36060516

          Some documentaries have, sure! And there is always the effect of the camera crew on what is being filmed. But not making clear what is staged and what isn’t is a problem for me. (I guess the stuff that is very successfully staged, I would never know.)

          • MichaelANovelli

            Part of the problem is that documentaries are still movies, and therefore have to tell stories. So, you have to expect that sort of thing…

      • Monophylos

        The real star of Herzog’s documentaries is always Herzog himself. That really doesn’t quite bother me (maybe as much as it should) because Werner Herzog is an intriguing guy and I’m interested in his “take” on a subject. Take Grizzly Man for example. Timothy Treadwell by himself would have been intolerable for two hours. Herzog’s commentary on Treadwell is far more engaging to watch.

        If you want the ultra-realistic “cinema verite” style in a documentary there’s always the Maysles Brothers but even so they’ve been accused of manipulation, e.g. by Pauline Kael in her vicious review of Gimme Shelter. The fact is that all documentarians impose their viewpoint on the material in some way and have some “story they want to tell”.

        • $36060516

          I have no problem with a documentarian imposing his or her viewpoint through editing footage, as long as purposeful lies are not told. Herzog confessed to staging scenes and dressing them with props, at least in the movie he was discussing in the interview I saw. I believe it was in the movie “Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary.” It’s been a few years since I saw it. Certainly some don’t have a problem with that practice Herzog described, but I reserve the right to find it distasteful.

  • E.Buzz Miller

    See I’m always in the minority, but I find Mitchell and Wiebe both pretty repellent.
    Mitchell is obviously more an obvious a**hole in how he acts , but Wiebe is pretty obsessed and has some major issues beneath that persona. At certain points it feels like his family loathes him.

    • lemonvampire

      It’s been a while since I saw the film, but wasn’t there a point where one of his kids has an accident of some kind and Wiebe is completely ignoring them and telling them to go bother their mother while focused on the game?

      • E.Buzz Miller

        I think calling out and crying for something, and he keeps yelling to wait while he plays the game. It was a real ‘sheesh, priorities’ moment.

        • It is his job right? Kids have to let their parents do the thing that provides for them.

    • Monophylos

      I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call Wiebe “repellent” but he does give off a Jack Torrance vibe–he’s something of a failure, drifting from one occupation to another, playing video games obsessively instead of bashing away at a typewriter. I’ll bet Wiebe has a mean temper hiding underneath his diffident, unassuming manner.

      Billy Mitchell, though, is one hundred percent pure slimeball.

  • Monophylos

    Another documentary that came out around the same time as this, and is more interesting in a way even though it’s a less structured film, is Chasing Ghosts. A number of the same people seen in King of Kong are in it, cutting even sorrier figures if that’s possible. There’s also a hilarious bit at the end with a couple of old guys reminiscing about how they are really still the best players of…whatever game it was (it hardly matters) even though some younger guy was now the record holder because he was just some punk kid who won through trickery and who didn’t respect the spirit of the game or something.

  • KLLRFRST

    There was a Ricky’s near my home when I lived in Miami. I never saw Mitchell there, but they made some pretty damn good omelets, and Mitchell’s hot sauce was one of the better ones i’ve tried.

    Dude’s still a self-important douche with an ego bigger than China, though.