King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
You know that feeling when you’re watching a documentary and you just can’t believe what’s going on? When real-life events seem so unbelievably dramatic, they must be made up?
Well, maybe they are. Or, maybe not. Who knows?
King of Kong is about the battle for the title of World Champion, Donkey Kong. It follows nice family guy Steve Wiebe as he challenges sleazy hot sauce magnate Billy Mitchell’s 1982 high score, wrestling with the corruption of the officiating body Twin Galaxies, which is in league with Mitchell and refuses to honour Wiebe’s scores. It’s a fast-moving, entertaining film full of larger-than-life characters such as Wiebe and Mitchell and the guys who run Twin Galaxies. It would be a great documentary. If it were true. Unfortunately, it stands accused of innacuracies that dwarf anything Michael Moore has ever done. Read this and then this and Walter Day’s other criticisms.
Now, I don’t know which side is right, and I think it’s totally worth watching regardless, as long as you keep in mind this controversy. If, as Twin Galaxies states, Wiebe had the world record for three years, the film is brutally misleading – it presents his score as being quickly disqualified and the title reverting to Mitchell. Twin Galaxies states that what happened is that Steve’s million-plus score was indeed disqualified, but then the title reverted to Steve himself since his 947,000 score had not been invalidated. Confused yet? Since you can’t trust any of Walter Hill’s statements at face value, we would need more sources and details to know what actually happened with regards to Twin Galaxies’ scorekeeping or any of this shit.
UPDATE: As it turns out, MTV’s Stephen Tolito has turned in quite a number of articles about the controversy: one two three four. They don’t necessarily get beyond ‘he said / she said’ disputes, but they at least present both sides and contain this headscratcher of a quote, from Mitchell’s best friend, Steve Sanders:
“Is the movie accurate?” Sanders asked. “I would say yes. Is the movie fair? I would say no.”