The King of Kong
The film does manages to take this geeky idea and make it a mainstream documentary that beats many others in its class, and it does easily. It expertly builds up the two main characters and creates a dramatic and tense filled relationship that rivals many of the leading good guy/bad guy relationships in blockbuster films.
What happens is one of the greatest battles on screen you'll see. Filled with tension, corruption, lies, sacrifice and one man's battle to prove himself good at something and see it through to the end, The King of Kong turns out to be a surprisingly great film.
As the film opens you begin to think you are in for a film about eighties videogamers and the craze that only swept certain bedrooms throughout the male population of the U.S., to be honest it's not a strong opening and it doesn't really make you think you're in for half the film it turns out to be.
This is where I would add my government health warning. Stay tuned. Do not stop watching the film, because it gets better, so much better.
During these opening sequences we're introduced to the character of Billy Mitchell, the current world record holder, and we're drawn towards him. He's a great character, and before you know it, as he talks about the game and life, you find that you're connecting with him.
Then the film starts widening up and brings in the character of YY. At first you feel he's an outsider, almost an imposter, a feeling that the film has managed to create easily with you.
However it soon starts to turn this around, and using stories of his life which tell of his various attempts to do something with his obvious talents only to fall for some terrible quirk of fate - for example his pitching talent giving him a chance at a baseball career only to have it ruined by his father pushing him to over train - you begin to identify with him and see him as the heroic underdog.
It's very skilfully done, and there's a lot of credit to be given to the true life story itself and the fact that everything is real, as well as having access to the right footage at the right time, but there's also credit to be had by the excellent editing throughout.
Not only does it do a great job of manipulating and moving you using the actual footage and characters, but that stock footage comes in just at the right times to reveal the truth about characters and their intentions, and sometimes it's rather surprising.
Now that the characters are in place the film begins to focus on the challenge itself, and it becomes very tense and exciting, especially when the very obvious cheating comes into play and that's when you find, almost without you realising it, that you're wholly rooting for YY and you begin to urge him forward. Indeed I found myself shouting out loud and punching the air at one point, as well as stopping the DVD and walking through to harass my wife with the tale and complain about the injustice of it.
That's probably one of the areas that makes this film work so well, it's not really about the videogames, it's about injustice, a man struggling to achieve his dream against all the odds, and how even in the darkest hour, the humanity of people can always surprise you.
Genuinely, I am not joking, these are the main themes that come out of the latter half of the film, and it makes it entertaining and thoroughly engaging at the same time.
The King of Kong is compelling and satisfying, it engages early on in the film and creates a superb gladiatorial battle between two figures who never really go head to head. It's funny, it's moving, and above all it'll get your heart racing and your blood boiling - I was shouting at the television at one point.
It's a film that is about much more than videogames, and it looks into how good and bad people can really be. A great film that you'll really enjoy, gamer or not.