Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The King of Kong is wrong (a review)

Let me first say that I did actually love this movie. Notice how I didn't refer to it as a documentary. The King of Kong is billed as a documentary about two men wrestling for the title of the World Champion of King Kong. It is not, however, a documentary at all. It is a movie made from real footage and pieced together to create the narrative the film makers wanted to create. A series of glaring omissions, misrepresentations and clever edits distort the true events to a ridiculous degree.

In the movie we see Steve Weibe, the newcomer, take on Billy Mitchell, the World Champ. Accused of cheating to get his record-shattering million-point score, Steve flies across the country to play the game live at Funspot in New Hampshire. At Funspot, Steve cannot recreate his 1,000,000+ achievement but he does manage to best the previous world record held by Mitchell. Billy Mitchell, who is painted as a egomaniacal jackass who would do just about anything to remain the champion, submits a tape with a score that bests Steve's live score. The official judges decide to accept Mitchell's unverified tape and re-crown him the King of Kong. The rest of the movie follows Steve's attempts to break Billy's high score and become the true, legitimate champion. That defines the narrative thrust of about 2/3's of the entire film. In reality, Steve Weibe was the already the officially-recognized champion. Billy's video taped score was taken down 48 hours after the Funspot event and Steve reigned as the World Champion for over three years!!! So then the entire plot of the Twin Galaxies conspiring with Billy Mitchell to keep Steve out of the official records was and outright lie. There are numerous other examples of the filmmakers changing things around. You can read them all here:

The King of Kong - Official Statement

That being said, the movie still fucking rocks. It's too bad that the story they were trying to portray as reality ended up being a cleverly edited fantasy. Despite all the editorial chicanery, The King of Kong is still a must-see film.

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