In a land of 8-bits, joysticks and quarter slots there can only be one king.
Showing at the 16th annual Philadelphia Film Festival, The King of Kong is an inspiring and humorous look into the surprisingly cutthroat world of classic gaming.
Competition in its simplest form needs several elements to be captivating; a hero to root for, a villain to cheer against and a goal to create a legend.
While the arcade game “Donkey Kong” may not seem like a fitting playing field for champions, director Seth Gordon proves it can be both heartbreaking and awe-inspiring in his documentary The King of Kong.
The film follows an intense rivalry between two men who have never met, but share the passion for a video game where the goal is to avoid the barrels, kill the monkey and save the girl.
In 1982, a young Bill Mitchell became the first world high score champion of Donkey Kong. Years later, Mitchell, with a trimmed beard and well-quaffed mullet, has become a messiah of classic video games and hot sauce.
In Mitchell’s self made world, he has no time for losing and no room for modesty with the belief, “When you want your name written into history, you have to pay the price.”
Thousands of miles away enter Steve Wiebe. A soft-spoken family man and obsessive fan of Donkey Kong, Wiebe will not settle until he quietly becomes number one for the first time in his life.
At one point, Wiebe’s young daughter offers a profound statement on what drives her father, saying, “Crack is for people who don’t play video games.”
Wiebe’s natural ability and Mitchell’s natural ‘charisma’ set the stage for a hilarious and thoroughly exciting competition to be the best.
Looking beyond the game, King of Kong is about a story of hope and fear. Everyone hopes to be the best at something, but the only way to win is to face the fear of losing.
The King of Kongreminds viewers a good movie, like a good video game, does not need to be fancy to be fufilling.
The King of Kong is playing at the International House on Tuesday, April 17 at 9:15 p.m.
It will be released nation-wide by Picturehouse in August.