Wednesday, August 4, 2010

King of Chinatown Review

Do you recognize this man? If you do, you probably know most of the plot of the new documentary, King of Chinatown. Despite the film's title, it doesn't focus so much on the titular king, Justin Wong, as it does on his relationship with his manager. This is not, however, a disappointment.

The film apparently started as an attempt to chronicle Justin Wong's meteoric rise through the Street Fighter 4 ranks. Due to his losses to Daigo in 2009 and his mediocre EVO placement this year, the film was forced to take a different course. It follows his career as a professional gamer, as well as the man that supported Justin along the way. The interplay between Wong and his manager is pure entertainment. The filmmakers captured some candid moments that had the crowd gasping, laughing, and cheering throughout.

Street Fighter fanatics looking for insights into high-level play should look elsewhere. There is little focus on gameplay, save an exquisitely-edited past-meets-present scene featuring Justin and Daigo. Generally, the gameplay is shown only in brief flashes within scenes focused more on the players' faces and reactions. This really adds to the enjoyability of the movie in a couple of ways. First, fans of the game have probably already seen most of the in-game footage, and this gives them a chance to see things from a different perspective. Second, this makes the film more enjoyable and understandable to a mainstream audience.

As a huge Street Fighter fan, I really enjoyed it. My gaming-illiterate wife, however, absolutely loved it. She found the plot and characters utterly intriguing and couldn't wait to discuss it afterwards. Regardless of your interest in gaming, King of Chinatown is a quality film that you definitely should not miss.

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