Hollywood comes to Hong Kong for glitzy Transformers 4 premiere

HONG KONG (AFP) - Mark Wahlberg and the cast of the latest Transformers instalment brought Hollywood glamour to Hong Kong on Thursday for the world premiere of the sci-fi movie which was partly shot in the city.

Wahlberg, accompanied by co-stars Stanley Tucci and Nicola Peltz, said Hong Kong played a crucial role in Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

"Hong Kong is basically another character in the film and it was an honour to work here," the 43-year-old star said on the red carpet at the harbourside Cultural Centre.

"It's just bigger and better," Wahlberg said of the new film as excited fans screamed at the sight of him.

Director Michael Bay, known for his trademark blockbuster mayhem, said Hong Kong looked none the worse for the destruction wrought on its famous skyline in his movie.

"It was a great city to shoot in, I didn't hurt it too much," Bay joked.

"We totally destroyed that, we destroyed that, we hurt the Bank of China a little bit," he said, pointing at the buildings that were damaged in the film.

But there was drama during the production in the city when two men confronted and attacked Bay, claiming they were owed HK$100,000 (S$16,155) compensation for filming in the area.

A Hong Kong man was sentenced to more than two years in jail in February for assaulting and attempting to blackmail the Armageddon director.

The movie does not feature Shia LaBeouf, star of the three previous Transformers movies but that did not bother the hundreds of fans gathered to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood stars, watched over by a 6m tall replica of Optimus Prime, the leader of the benevolent Autobots.

"Definitely Mark! Hi Mark, I love you," Khristin Cadasaan from Manila, who was ecstatic after seeing Wahlberg on the red carpet, told AFP when asked which leading man she preferred to see in the series.

"It's exciting because he's one of my favourite Hollywood actors," she added.

Movie website editor Cyrus Wong attended the premiere to see Bay, one of his favourite directors.

"Nobody can top his ability to make grand-scaled films... From when I was young until I was older his films have made a very big impression on me," Wong, 28, said, while wearing a Transformers T-shirt.

After the attack in October last year, Bay wrote on his website: "Every vendor where we shot got paid a fair price for our inconvenience, but he wanted four times that amount. I personally told this man and his friends to forget it we were not going to let him extort us."

"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 air 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."

The movie opens on June 26 in Singapore.