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Hong Kong man guilty of "Transformers" director extortion

A Hong Kong man was sentenced to more than two years in jail on Wednesday for attempting to blackmail "Transformers" director Michael Bay during filming for the blockbuster's latest instalment.

HONG KONG: A Hong Kong man was sentenced to more than two years in jail on Wednesday for attempting to blackmail "Transformers" director Michael Bay during filming for the blockbuster's latest instalment.

Mak Chi-shing, 27, an air-conditioning technician, approached Bay in October and demanded HK$100,000 (US$12,900) on the first day of filming in the city's Quarry Bay district for "Transformers: Age of Extinction".

Mak claimed he had not been paid adequate compensation for the disruption caused by filming and tried to hit the Hollywood director with an air-conditioning unit after he was refused further payment, according to Bay's own account.

"He is convicted of blackmail and assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty, the sentence was 30 months imprisonment," a judiciary spokeswoman told AFP.

His elder brother Mak Chi-hang, 28, was sentenced to six weeks for "resisting police officers during the execution of their duties", the judiciary spokeswoman said, though he was acquitted of a blackmail charge due to insufficient evidence, according to media reports.

Judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen said the case had tarnished Hong Kong's reputation abroad, the South China Morning Post reported, an aggravating factor in the sentencing.

Police arrested the two men shortly after the attack on the "Armageddon" director, who recounted details of the incident at the time in a statement on his website.

"Every vendor where we shot got paid a fair price for our inconvenience, but he wanted four times that amount," he said, adding that he told the man and his friends to "forget it".

"He didn't like that answer. So an hour later he came by my crew as we were shooting, carrying a long air-conditioner unit. He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face.

"But I ducked, threw the aircon unit on the floor and 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," Bay said.

The fourth instalment of the Transformers franchise starring Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz is scheduled to hit cinemas in June.

Hong Kong's striking Victoria Harbour is believed to be among the film's locations, along with the city's dense and bustling streets.

The court was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

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