When I browsed past The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters on my Netflix account on the 360 (instant queue is a beautiful thing isn’t it?) I thought I was about to watch a smart indie film about a classic video game. But what I got was something more.
Steve Wiebe (pronounced: Weebee) has recorded a million+ score on Donkey Kong Jr. in his garage. This beats the standing world record by Billy Mitchell by well over 150,000 points. Billy, a confident video game expert and self-made businessman has held this record since the early 80’s (as well as 4 other world records). Weibe, believing he’s broken the world record, sends the videotape of his record-breaking game in to Twin Galaxies (the official gaming scoreboard) for review. What ensues is a roller coaster of ups and downs; Accused of cheating and modifying his game board to gain an advantage, Wiebe has no other choice but to prove his prowess in live competition.
The film brings us Wiebe’s struggle to be the best all-the-while being supported by friends and family. Mitchell is portrayed as the untouchable villain with a cadre of evil minions doing his bidding.
While the details of the film may be stretched for dramatic effect (see IMDB trivia page), the story is incontrovertible. It’s an underdog story of the highest degree: A lone challenger beat down his whole life finds a purpose and practices until he can be the best. But he has to prove it against the headstrong, arrogant champion. Will the champion accept the challenge? Will the challenger beat him if he does? That’s the magic of some of the best underdog movies, and that’s the magic of King of Kong.