A lot of people aren't keen on Michael Bay, but few of us have taken it as far as the Mak brothers from Hong Kong.
Last October we all heard the rather unusual story of the Transformers 4 director, Michael Bay, being attacked with an air conditioning unit in an attempted blackmail attempt. It was, admittedly, kind of funny at the time, but now the rather sad circumstances and consequences of the scuffle have been made public.
On Wednesday, the two brothers responsible for the attack, Mak Chi-hang and Mak Chi-shing, were both found guilty in a Chinese court of a variety of crimes. The younger Mak Chi-shing was found guilty of attempted blackmail and assaulting a police officer, while the older brother was found guilty of resisting police officers. The men received jail sentences of 2 and a half years, and 6 months respectively.
Problems began when Michael Bay and his Transformers: Age of Extinction production team wished to film scenes around the Mak's local air conditioner repair shop. Reuters claim that the pair refused to close down their shop and played loud music in an attempt to disrupt the filming.
Previously the duo had agreed to a compensation payment of HK$1000 ($129) for the disruption caused by the production team, but on the day of filming the district court heard how Mak Chi-shing approached the Transformers 4 team and demanded HK$100,000 ($12,900).
When Bay refused, a fight ensued in which a police officer was elbowed and an air conditioner unit was swung at the director's head. Luckily, he managed to duck the assault, although we was left with minor injuries to his face. Later on during the filming, another of Bay's production crew was apparently approached by members of the Chinese triads who also demanded money.
At the time it was speculated that the first extortion attempt could also have been related to the Hong Kong triads, however it has since emerged that the brothers grew up in rather harsh and unstable conditions which could have factored into their desperate attempt to blackmail the crew. Despite pleas from their defense lawyer to take this into consideration, the prosecutor claimed the case had attrached a great deal of media attention and had subsequently tarnished the reputation of Hong Kong.
By filming in Hong Kong, Transformers: Age of Extinction becomes the latest big budget blockbuster to attempt to attract Chinese, as well as domestic, audiences. As well as featuring scenes set in China, the movie also features several big name Chinese actors, such as BingBing Li. All of this is often required if a movie wants to quality as a Chinese co-production and reap a larger cut of ticket sales.