As champions and contenders on the classic Donkey Kong continue to prepare for the upcoming Kong Off event in New Jersey, many are looking toward current Donkey Kong champion Hank Chien as the odds on favorite to win the multi-player event.
One person, filmmaker Alexis Neophytides has also been looking at Chien leading up to this event through a camera lens for the new documentary short Doctor Kong, a film that covers Chien’s story to Donkey Kong greatness.
Neophytides grew up in New York City on Roosevelt Island. Her path to filming took a few turns leading up to Doctor Kong.
“I was premed in college and then totally went in another direction and started acting after I graduated,” Alexis recalled. “I did that for a while and then became less and less interested in fiction and acting and more interested in real people and real stories. I went back to school and got a Master's in documentary filmmaking and media studies and started making my own movies.”
Doctor Kong covers New York plastic surgeon Hank Chien on part of his early Donkey Kong journey, visiting locations such as Funspot in New Hampshire and Richie Knucklez Arcade Games in New Jersey, the site of the upcoming Kong Off event. Included is the moment Chien first broke the world record on the arcade classic (a story first broken to the world by this very columnist) and the media frenzy that followed.
While Doctor Kong was not originally planned to center around Chien, his story soon became the center of attention. Neophytides originally met Chien at Brooklyn arcade bar Barcade while starting work on a documentary about several regulars of the location, before turning the full focus of the story onto Hank.
“Hank was the first regular that I started following around, and it was before he broke the world record,” Neophytides said. “When I asked him to be a part of the project, I had no idea if he would actually break the record, and it didn't really matter to me. I just really liked him and thought his story was cool and appreciated the fact that this guy who was already successful in his own right as a plastic surgeon was on a quest to be the best a something else.”
While covering the same kind of subject as the film that once again made Donkey Kong a household name, Doctor Kong is not intended to be a follow-up or sequel.
“This is nothing like King of Kong,” Dr. Chien stated, alluding toward liberties taken in the story of the cult classic film. “It’s not about competition and all that and it appeals to everyone.”
“I definitely did not want to remake that movie” Neophytides added, “which was one of the reasons that I kept this film short and strictly to Hank's story.”
The making of Doctor Kong also served to remind the filmmaker of her early college major.
“There was one point when Hank's hand was fully inside a boob. It was so gross!” Neophytides said. “It made me very thankful that I chose to go into film and not medicine.”
While there has been a great deal more in the Donkey Kong saga since the ending of the film, including Hank’s second reign at the top of the leaderboard, there are no current plans to add more to the story, according to Neophytides.
“The film is about someone who has a glimpse of fame in an otherwise normal life,” she adds.
Doctor Kong was recently screened for the first time in Brooklyn, NY to a positive audience response. Upcoming screenings are scheduled at the Kong Off and the upcoming Midwest Gaming Classic event in Milwaukee, WI on March 26-27.
Those wishing to learn more about Doctor Kong, including links to the official Facebook page for the film and a trailer, visit www.DoctorKongTheMovie.com. Those interested in getting a copy of the film should use the contact section of that website for more information.
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