I imagine by now that anyone with a vested interest in video games will have watched The King of Kong, unfortunately I myself have only just gotten round to watching it and I wish that I had watched it sooner.
Now before I go on I'll just say that there is controversy that surrounds this film so for the purpose of the review I''m just going to concentrate on the actual film and will mention the controversy at the end.
For those who don't know, The King of Kong basically follows two people. Billy Mitchell, who according to the film held the recorded world record for total points in the Donkey Kong arcade game, and Steve Wiebe who is the challenger to the held record. The film follows Steve as he first breaks the record on tape and then after it is disputed breaks the record live, alongside this he keeps trying to get Billy to play in public as a challenge.
The film start off a little slow as people and families/friends are introduced as well as background material but really kicks up a notch once Steve starts playing the Donkey Kong arcade in his garage, this is when he first breaks the record on tape and after this the film really kicks into gear. This is due to the behaviour of people in the film and the way that people are treated specifically Steve. Two people from Twin Galaxies (the organisation that verifies and records the high scores and which is run by Walter Day) take apart the machine to look for alleged cheating which they supposedly find due to a box that has arrived from a fellow gamer who is also a rival of Billy. From this point on you don't know whether to laugh or shake your head in despair.
Due to this Twin Galaxies do not accept the video and Steve has to go and play Donkey Kong live which he does and breaks the record for a day until Billy submits a 'suspect' video which after discussion with Walter is accepted as the new high score, a complete contradiction to what happened to Steve and to what both Twin Galaxies and Billy state about high scores needing to be broken live.
It's this scene where you really start to dislike people and see them as petulant children rather than grown adults and the way that they treat Steve is just ridiculous. It gets worse as the film goes on and any respect or admiration that you may have had for the people just disappears as you find yourself annoyed with what is happening. By the end of the film a couple of people have apologised an 'redeemed' themselves but generally some of them just come across as right (enter swear word here...).
Saying that though, the film probably wouldn't have been as half as entertaining without the 'rivalry' that occurs throughout and that's what the film boils down to, a rivalry between two people who want to hold the record and by the end of the film want to be included in the Guiness Book of Records.
Some of the stuff that Billy says is absolutely fantastic in a cringe worthy way and the actions of some of the people are, to put it bluntly, rather sad but overall The King of Kong is a great way to spend 83 minutes.
Now the controversy. I'm a person who after watching something likes to read about the film or programme to see about interesting facts or articles and after reading about The King of Kong I started to see the film in a different light. After it was released some of the people filmed released statements refuting some of the stuff like the taking apart of the Donkey Kong machine and how certain things were portrayed. For example how the videotape that Billy sent in was discarded at the event and the high score reverted back to Wiebe's live score.
There are also videos online (that could be seen as sour grapes) from people involved in the film refuting certain claims and scenes and after the rivalry between Billy and Steve is played up in the film there are suggestions that they did actually become friends and there is a video as recent as 2013 with Steve getting kill screen and Billy congratulating him over the film. Walter Day released a statement which can be read here and even the director Seth Gordon has commented on the editing of the film and the changes involved.
I would highly recommend watching the film but to also afterwards do a bit of digging around to see what is out there in relation to the film as it is rather interesting.
Video by heatherklus