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A man was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for attempting to extort nearly $13,000 from Michael Bay and his crew on the Hong Kong set of Transformers: Age of Extinction, while the man’s older brother got six months for resisting arrest.
Mak Chi-hang and his younger brother Mak Chi-shing refused to close their air-conditioner repair shop or turn down loud music in October when the crew was about to start shooting a scene in the Quarry Bay district of Hong Kong.
The district court heard how a crew member had approached the brothers the day before and they had agreed to compensation of $129 (HK$1,000). But on the day of filming, the younger brother demanded $12,9000 (HK$100,000).
When the crew refused, an argument ensued, scuffles broke out and the younger Mak elbowed a police officer.
Writing on his blog after the incident, Bay said the assailants were “drugged up guys” who were being “belligerent asses to my crew for hours in the morning of our first shoot day in Hong Kong.”
After the crew refused further payment, the man tried to hit the director in the face with an air-conditioning unit, and Bay pushed him away.
“That’s when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie World War Z — he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guard’s Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved,” he wrote.
Bay sustained minor injuries to his face but did not seek treatment or press charges.
The court found the younger Mak guilty of attempted blackmail and assaulting a police officer, the South China Morning Post reported. The older brother was found guilty of resisting arrest, but was acquitted of extortion on insufficient evidence.
Judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen also reprimanded the men for being an embarrassment to Hong Kong, and for tarnishing the territory’s reputation abroad, according to the South China Morning Post. This had been an aggravating factor in the sentencing, as negative publicity from the case “could affect foreigners deciding whether to travel or work” in the city.
In 10 days of filming in Hong Kong, Bay had to deal with two extortion attempts, and cope with mass protests over a TV license controversy which nearly interfered with shooting an explosion scene.
Bay subsequently described the incident as “kind of scary” but insisted he would be back to shoot in the territory again.
The 2011 smash hit Transformers: Dark of the Moon took $165 million of its $1.1 billion worldwide take in China, and four young Chinese actors were chosen to play supporting roles in Transformers: Age of Extinction via a reality TV show.
Transformers: Age of Extinction stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Li Bingbing and Han Geng, and is due in theaters June 27.
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