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The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Seth Gordon


Published January 31, 2008.The King of Kong: A Fistful of QuartersDirected by: Seth Gordon (New Line Home Video)The strains of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” are used, appropriately and more than once, in documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. As Cohen sings about fights being fixed, the film chronicles nice-guy science teacher Steve Wiebe’s struggle to get his record-
breaking score on Donkey Kong recognized by Twin Galaxies, an organization that tracks video-game world records. It’s a David and Goliath story. Wiebe, a man whose life has been plagued by professional disappointments, is the film’s David. Billy Mitchell, a hot-sauce mogul who held the Donkey Kong record until Wiebe broke it, is its Goliath. Initially, Twin Galaxies refuses to accept Wiebe’s tape of him breaking the record. They make him come to an arcade to show his stuff in person. Wiebe’s trying to play a game with a deck that’s clearly stacked in Mitchell’s favour: Mitchell is one of the Twin Galaxies evaluators. Director Seth Gordon deftly portrays Wiebe and Mitchell’s epic-feeling rivalry, while simultaneously helping us understand the strange little culture of world-record-level video-gaming, and more universal themes. “I guess it’s not even about Donkey Kong anymore,” muses Wiebe at one point. Instead, Wiebe’s “trying to beat this empire...and get a fair chance.”Lindsay McCarney

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