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King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Steve Wiebe , Billy Mitchell , Seth Gordon    DVD

Price: 2.79
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  189 reviews
88 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun for gamers And Non-Gamers Alike 16 Feb 2008
By J. Fuchs - Published on
I stuck this movie into the DVD player thinking I'd watch 15 minutes or so and then go make dinner. Before I knew it, the end titles were coming up. This movie starts out slowly and you think it's going to be for hard-core gamers only and then it just sucks you in.

The first time you see Billy Mitchell on screen, standing in front of a copy machine wearing a button up shirt and tie, hair unfashionably long and blunt cut, with facial hair right out of the 70s, your first thought is "loser." Some of this comes from the popular image of people who are hard-core game players as not having real lives. It comes a surprise, therefore, to find out that not only is Mitchell a world champion video gamer, he is an exceptionally successful business person who is married and has children. Nevertheless, this doesn't stop him from coming across as a world-class jerk. While this is no doubt due somewhat to editing, no one put words into Mitchell's mouth and after a while you'll want to roll your eyes at his pompous pontificating. Still, he's the rock star of video gamers and the world-record holder in Donkey Kong, and even if you think that people who spend that much time going after such a seemingly useless world record need to get a life, you can't argue with the fact that Billy Mitchell certainly seems to have one, even if you'd never want to be part of it.

Steve Wiebe, on the other hand, is one of those guys you'd love to have as your best friend. Just as no amount of editing could make Billy Mitchell into the jerk he obviously is, no amount of editing in a picture this long could make Steve Wiebe out to be such a good guy if he weren't genuinely good natured. Even when the video gaming world seems to be conspiring against him to make sure that Billy Mitchell stays on top, Wiebe has a smile on his face. He's smart, good-looking, talented, and also married and a father. And such a sap that times, you just want to slap him for putting up with everything with such good grace.

The movie is about Wiebe's attempt to break Mitchell's long-standing world record for the highest ever Donkey Kong score. Those of us old enough to have played the game back in its heyday will remember how fun it was as well as its sheer impossibility. But even if you never played, or if that funny looking little guy dodging fireballs and falling barrels while trying hopelessly to rescue the girl never appealed to you, chances are you'll find this movie delightful. Because this movie is not about a video game, it's about what drives us to keep going in the face of the odds. The filmmakers do a great job of eliciting from the participants, particularly Wiebe, the reasons for their attraction to the game and the pursuit of the all time high score. Actual gameplay is kept to a minimum, which is frustrating for those of us who really liked the game, but what keeps it interesting even for people who've never held a joystick. Even if you think such a pursuit is really stupid, you'll probably find yourself torn when Steve Wiebe has to choose between breaking the world record and wiping his young son's bottom. You really end up rooting for him.

The supporting players are almost as entertaining as Wiebe and Mitchell, especially Walter Day, the folksinging, meditating, self-appointed guru of the gaming world, who seems to be going out of his way to keep Billy Mitchell on top. Seriously, you couldn't invent this guy.

Seth Gordon, the director of this film, worked on the movie New York Doll, and he seems to have picked up some of that film's ability to transcend the subject matter and keep us interested in people who might not otherwise seem like anyone we'd want to watch for a couple of hours. That Gordon can make Donkey Kong into a metaphor for life, and an entertaining one at that, is no mean accomplishment. I loved this movie.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Video Game Rivalry as Both Character Drama and Quirky Amusement. 2 Feb 2008
By mirasreviews - Published on
"The King of Kong" follows the 2004-2006 rivalry and resulting controversy for the title of Donkey Kong Champion between longtime record holder and Gamer of the Century Billy Mitchell and challenger Steve Wiebe. Wiebe is cast in the role of heroic underdog, a junior high school science teacher from Washington state who has chosen Donkey Kong as the vehicle of his success after a series of disappointments in other fields. When Wiebe's videotaped record-breaking game is rejected by Twin Galaxies, the regulatory organization for classic arcade records, Steve is forced to try to break the record live, with referee Walter Day as a witness. Meanwhile, defending champion Billy Mitchell, a hot sauce mogul from Florida, avoids the challenge of his rival for fear of losing his title.

I didn't realize that the interest in retro arcade games is still so intense, as I haven't seen hide nor hair of one of these machines since the 1980s. Director Seth Gordon has fashioned a story from a competition that takes place in front of video game screens by focusing on the characters and the controversy. He digs into Steve Wiebe's past to find motivation, accurate or not, for his obsessive pursuit of the Donkey Kong title. Billy Mitchell is portrayed as a egomaniac who tries to manipulate Twin Galaxies' acceptance of challengers' scores. His fear of defeat after 20 years on top is understandable, even if his actions are not admirable. I have no interest in video games, but "The King of Kong" is a character drama that is at once compelling and curious.

The DVD (New Line 2008): Bonus features include 10 bonus scenes, 11 extended interviews, a DVD-ROM (Windows only), a theatrical trailer (2 min), a Glossary of 12 arcade terms, 2 feature commentaries, and: "The Saga Continues" updates us on the rivalry for the Donkey Kong title since 2006. "A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong" (1 min) is a fast-talking animated history of the game. "I am 8-bit" is a gallery of 18 frames of a group art project, with music, inspired by classic arcade games. Subtitles for the film are available in English and Spanish.

The first feature commentary is by the filmmakers. Director Seth Gordon, producer Ed Cunningham, and associate producer Clay Tweel tell us how they discovered the story, how different parts of the film were conceived, and provide additional history of the people and relationships in the film. The second feature commentary is by Chris Carlyle, entertainment editorial director for IGN, and Jon M. Gibson, founder of "i am 8-bit". This is a conversational, often joking commentary about the people in the film. I'd skip it.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Battle of All Time 6 Dec 2007
By gk28 - Published on
Okay, well maybe not the greatest battle of all time, but a damn entertaining one.

"The King of Kong" is an excellent documentary that looks at classic gaming. It features many of gamings greatest records holders such as Todd Rogers, Billy Mitchell, and controversial "Missile Command" record holder "Mr. Awesome" himself, Roy Shildt.

If you have an interest in classic gaming you should see this movie. Even if you don't have an interest in classic gaming you should still see this movie. It is entertaining and funny throughout.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great study of reverse snobbery 13 July 2008
By Steve D. - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie should be required viewing in any college level sociology class. The film documents a man who would struggle to actually be an outcast in any social group attempting to penetrate a clique of individuals who have likely been outcasts their entire lives.

Steve Wiebe is almost painfully average. He's a middle-class school teacher who'd been an above average athlete and he plays a couple of musical instruments. He has a good-looking wife and could be a poster boy for suburban America. He also has an almost preternatural ability to play Donkey Kong, and therein lies the trouble.

In order to have his record-breaking score recognized, Steve has to break through and enter into a world of people who probably weren't two-sport athletes and certainly couldn't mingle well at an office Christmas party. In getting his score validated, too, he will be bringing down their king.

Billy Mitchell is the undisputed monarch of these gamers. I'd first read about him in a 2006 article in the now-defunct Oxford American magazine. In that article, the author, David Ramsey, tried to convey Mitchell's cockiness but still be respectful. After this film, I have a new degree of respect for Mr. Ramsey's restraint.

Mitchell is, rightfully, recognized as Gamer of the Century. He's sort of law and order in this world in that he is uniquely qualified to challenge all high score claims. Mitchell is also a successful business man and he's married to a woman who you will not admit is hot in front of your wife, but men get it. Mitchell's success in business and marriage, though, does not tarnish or diminish his status among the gamers. In fact, they likely cheer him on. You expect your hero to do well in all endeavors.

When Weibe submits his score, it's obvious that the Twin Galaxies crowd is eager to close ranks and protect their hero. Weibe is left with no option but to demonstrate his skills in person. He has to physically play the game surrounded by these outcasts who are so galvanized they have actually become snobs in their own right. There seems to be several instances where they are trying to distract this interloper during his game-play, with Billy Mitchell himself doing a silent walk-by. The crux of it is, here's Weibe, a guy who could be anybody's best bud and fit in anywhere, being shunned by folks who've probably been kept at a distance all their lives.

The extra features, particularly the extended interviews, are almost better than the movie itself. The players describing Burger Time are the greatest thing I've seen on film in a while. Interesting commentaries, too.

Anyone old enough to remember arcades needs to watch this film. Beware, though, you'll find yourself with an almost uncontrollable urge to prowl e-bay for old games.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EPIC BATTLE OF FACE VS. HEEL! 21 Dec 2007
By M. Grant - Published on
The King of Kong is possibly the best movie I saw during 2007 (and I saw alot of movies). What makes it outstanding is that it's a simple story of good against evil played out between normal guys (maybe even less than normal when you factor in the Geek Quotient) and it's 100% true!

I won't spoil things but any fan of wrestling, video games, or funny movies will appreciate the trials of Face-Hero cum everyman Steve Weibe as he tries to set the world record for Donkey Kong. In the process Weibe battles the very tight knit nerd "cult" of record holders who are not interested in seeing an outsider break through. And...I haven't even mentioned our Heel-Villain Billy Mitchell, possibly the cockiest man to ever smile on camera as he speaks about himself in the 3rd Person!

5 minutes into this movie you'll find yourself cheering for Weibe and hissing at Mitchell and you'll still have plenty of movie to entertain you. Overall this is an A+ movie and one of the funniest and most original documentaries I have seen since...well since Arcades were a favorite mall hang-out.
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