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The King of Kong Surprisingly Inspirational

Published August 17, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Picturehouse.
The King of Kong Poster The King of Kong
The King of Kong is the best inspirational sports movie since The Mighty Ducks. Now, I'm not saying it changes the world like D2: The Mighty Ducks did, but for individual achievement, it's there.

Movie Review: King of Kong

Steve Wiebe wants to break the all high score on Donkey Kong. Current record holder Billy Mitchell isn't threatened until Wiebe sends in a video tape of his million+ scoring game. So Billy dispatches henchmen to discredit him, forcing Wiebe to break the score live.

This sounds like a script, right? No, it's a documentary. And it's not all watching guys play video games. The drama of personal ambition, insecurity, family lives and accomplishment comes to life.

The film has the energy of a game. Classical and '80s rock music pulls together the talking heads and archival footage, and that old video footage shows what life exists outside of these on camera interviews and gaming sessions. The montages are like BOOM! Someone's story, example, more explaining, example.

And I call them talking heads, but each subject in the film is a full character. Mitchell is the cocky A-hole champion with some really evil underhanded tricks to maintain his crown. He's a successful businessman in real life, but it's still that competitive spirit. Wiebe is the ultimate underdog. He doesn't come from the gaming world. He draws, plays music and sports. He's just been laid off and he needs something to keep him going. He deserves this.

But there's more. Willy Day is the official scorekeeper, a kindly old bearded man. He's like the Obi Wan (even though he gives Mitchell that title). He meditates and explains the passion for this sport.

Steve Sanders is wannabe who got schooled and kind of grew out of the world. He's a suit now, turned into a more traditional businessman.

Brian Kuh is a young Billy Mitchell, trying to learn from the master. He's dangerous because he'll do anything for Billy like a blind lemming.

The film is full of wonderful moments. There's the bittersweet humor of Wiebe's child interrupting his record-breaking sessions with butt wiping needs. There's the sheer procedure of verifying hours and hours of videotapes of game playing. It takes a world that could be dismissed as "geeks" and makes it legitmate and human.

Ultimately, the film is personal to me because I was a hero in 2nd grade for getting to level seven. These guys blow me out of the water.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Picturehouse.

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