A kingpin is the screw assembly in a skateboard truck that determines the hardness of the bushings and thusly, affects the way a skateboard turns. Kingpins can often snap when grinded on too much. However, replacement kingpins are readily available. Be careful not to tighten a kingpin too much, as it may go into your deck and split it, ruining the board.

It's been said that there is nothing funnier than that magical place where bowling, amputees, Amish people, and titties converge.

No, wait, it hasn't.  But it should be said, because those four things form the basis of the 1999 Farrelly Brothers movie Kingpin

Your major cast is as follows:

So here's the plot summary: Roy Munson is a young and aspiring bowling ace whose road to fame is derailed by the jovially evil Ernie McKracken.  Munson needs money, and McKracken takes him to a bowling alley to bowl for money, but when Munson wins, they shove his hand into a ball return, where it's ripped off.

Flash forward many years later.  Munson is stuck in a run-down apartment with a hook for a hand, reduced to performing cunnilingus on his repulsive landlord and selling bowling supplies for money, when he sees Ishmael, a natural bowling ace.  The catch is that Ishmael is Amish and doesn't want to learn the immorality of the outside world.  Ishmael is convinced to go with Roy to a big tournament when he learns that their farm is almost penniless and the bank is very close to foreclosure.

So they hit the road, gambling on Ishmael's natural bowling skills to make money.  Eventually they find themselves in the home of a rich bowling gambler, bowling on his private lane.  Claudia, his girlfriend, attempts to distract Ishmael, but fails.  When the gambler begins to beat on Claudia, she, Roy and Ishmael flee.  Roy and Claudia clash over "posession" of Ishmael--both seeing him as their meal ticket

Eventually, Roy and Claudia reach an understanding, and when Ishmael breaks his hand at the tournament, Roy is forced to bowl with a rubber hand fitted over his hook-hand, only managing to take second place after his old nemesis, McCracken.

The end of the movie sees Munson making some money from a lucrative endorsement deal and donating his second-place winnings to save Ishmael's farm.  Oh, and keep your eyes open for the Amish-disguised members of Blues Traveler at the very end of the movie.

I personally thought it was a funny movie, with plenty of physically repulsive moments such as a bucket of bull ejaculate being drunk from, a wraithlike woman demanding cunnilingus, and Quaid's stiff nipple-erections.  It's definitely more lowbrow than The Big Lebowski, but the comparisons are inevitable--there are very few bowling movies, obviously enough.

The DVD is two-sided, one side in widescreen, the other side in standard.  It features 8 added scenes not included in the PG-13 theatrical release, pushing the DVD to an R rating.  It's got the trailer and commentary from the Farrelly Brothers, and both English and French-language subtitles, but only an English audio track.

I recommend it highly, but only if you're into lowbrow humor.  Once again:


Addendum: it has been brought to my attention by rootbeer277 that Morganna The Kissing Bandit makes an apperance near the end during the tournament, playing herself.

Title: Kingpin: Life of Crime
Developer: Xatrix Entertainment (now known as Gray Matter Studios)
Publisher: Interplay
Date Published: 30/6/1999
Platforms: PC CD-ROM
ESRB Rating: Mature

Kingpin was the final game released by Xatrix Entertainment, before the core members of the company jumped ship to Activision and set up Gray Matter Studios. Prior to Kingpin's development, the team had made a name for themselves with the crude and humourous Redneck Rampage series of shooters, before being hired by Id Software to create the first expansion pack for Quake 2 (The Reckoning, a solid but unremarkable effort that arguably influenced parts of Half-Life). Xatrix combined their intimate knowledge of the Quake 2 engine and their love of gratuitous violence and profanity to create Kingpin, a gangster-themed first-person shooter which was developed in eight (presumably very hectic) months.

Kingpin was one of the last FPS games to place a major emphasis on gore and 'adult content', before the genre began to get toned down (as graphical techniques were becoming a bit too realistic...) to appeal to a wider audience. Blood, gibs, decapitations and messy exit wounds (not to mention people running around on fire) are all on the menu. To doubly ensure that the game was plastered with age restrictions and dire warning signs (and certainly not to make it seem cooler to kids), the dialogue in the game is peppered to a frankly absurd degree with four-letter words. Imagine Joe Pesci, blind drunk, accidentally hitting his thumb with a hammer and you have some idea of the sheer volume of expletives uttered in Kingpin. Before the game can be played for the first time, the player is presented with a statement from Xatrix's creative director Drew Markham, defending the developers' right to freedom of expression. This can be put into historical perspective when we consider that the game was released a few months after the Columbine shootings, and attitudes towards violent games were growing increasingly negative.

The game is set in a fictional urban wasteland inhabited by rival street gangs. The visual style of the game combines modern elements of urban decay with Art Deco flourishes reminiscent of the 1930s and 40s, and has been compared to the movies Batman and Brazil. The protagonist is a nameless small-time crook who has had the misfortune of crossing one of the local crime bosses. The game opens with our hero being beaten up and dumped in a back alley with no money and no weapons. The objective is to fight your way up from the gutter (in a very literal sense) to the position of Kingpin. The city is made up of six hub-based areas (in the style of Quake 2 and Hexen II) which have to be completed in a set order. Areas include the ghetto where you start out (Skid Row), an industrial district (the chemical works), dockyards, the glitzy 'Radio City', and finally the Kingpin's luxury apartments.

In each area, the player has to complete some simple 'fetch quests', locating certain objects (for instance by stealing them or trading for them) which can either be given to other characters in return for a favour or used to access a new area (disguised keys- for instance finding a battery for a motorcycle). These objectives can usually be tackled in any order and occasionally the game offers more than one route or solution.

As with a number of first-person shooters before and since, Kingpin tries to set itself apart from the crowd by including some simplistic role-playing and adventure elements. The main character has some hidden stats that increase with practice, the most obvious being that his aim will improve with each firefight. There is a rudimentary economy in the game. Cash can be looted from fallen enemies (not to mention safes, should you gain access to one) and used to purchase weapons, ammo and upgrades from Pawn-o-matic shops located around the city. It is also possible to hire computer-controlled henchmen (including a safecracker, natch) who will follow the player reasonably intelligently and help out in combat situations. Instead of the (at the time) standard weapon hierarchy, where small arms would be rapidly obsolesced by more powerful weapons, in Kingpin it is possible to upgrade the standard pistol several times, adding a silencer and increasing its reload rate, ensuring that it remains a formidable weapon well into the game.

Another reasonably successful new element to the tried-and-tested first-person shooter formula is the character interaction system. Not all of the folk that the player encounters will be hostile. It is often a good idea to approach new characters with your weapon holstered and attempt to strike up conversation (although you only have two conversation options, friendly and antagonistic). Peaceful characters will often give you useful information or offer to make a deal. Doggedly sociopathic players will be relieved to hear that there are no characters that absolutely have to be buttered up to allow the game to progress, and when someone outlives their usefulness you can feel free to whack them over the head and steal their wallet. While this 'kill or cooperate?' gimmick is well-used at first, by the end of each area, the gameplay descends into an old-fashioned bloodbath as dozens of unquestionably hostile goons will arrive to try to stop the player from escaping to the next area.

Graphically, the game is a step up from Quake 2, with higher resolution textures, a liberal scattering of scenery objects, more subtle use of coloured lighting and some nice particle effects (including sparks and the trademark Gray Matter flamethrower which would be seen again in Return to Castle Wolfenstein). Stylistically, Kingpin has the edge over Half-Life which was released a few months earlier, with textures and colour schemes that look slightly more naturalistic than Half-Life's flat, airbrushed look. The game has rather obviously been targeted at the 3dfx Voodoo 2 and NVIDIA Riva TNT 3D accelerator cards that were the standard at the time. (It is the first 3D game I can remember that made decent use of 32-bit colour.) The character models have aged particularly badly, the erratic animation and lighting techniques making them wobble around like some kind of amorphous jelly-people.

Sonically the game is fairly typical of the genre at the time, with the exception of the aforementioned cursing. The soundtrack licenses three tracks from Cypress Hill's IV album, as well as some looped instrumental samples. (Interestingly, considering the choice of subject matter and music, there are no drug references in the game.)

Kingpin inevitably loses out to comparisons with Half-Life, but that doesn't mean that it's a bad game. (After all, some critics would have us believe that Half-Life still hasn't been bettered five years after its release.) There is an over-reliance on gimmicks and a feeling that the game is underdeveloped, which results in the single player campaign degenerating into a repetitive exercise: kill everyone, search the sprawling and featureless levels for a hidden object, and then do it again in a slightly different setting; repeat until bored. The multiplayer game, building as it does on Quake 2's already excellent foundations, redeems it to an extent, with an enjoyable team-based mode ('Bagman', where teams must crack their opponents' safe and try to amass the most money) adding a nice twist to the standard Capture the Flag.

The game has been available as a budget release for some time now, and shouldn't set you back more than a few dollars/pounds/euro. First-person shooter fans (particularly those with access to a LAN of older PCs) looking for an interesting diversion could do far worse than give it a go.

Cliché spotters should be aware that this game includes many crates, warehouses, sewers and burning barrels.

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