Robots and mahjong: Hong Kong's starring role

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 4:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 8:07am

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing
Director: Michael Bay
Category: IIA

Much of the hype for Transformers: Age of Extinction focuses on it being a Hollywood-China co-production. Local audiences will be amused by its final half-hour which is set in Hong Kong. Images such as birdcages, mahjong and a Cantonese opera billboard are thrown in for good measure.

Often incoherent and noisy, the profitable film franchise surrenders any narrative logic.

Five years have passed since Chicago was demolished in the last instalment, Dark of the Moon (2011), and the remaining Autobots are being hunted down by the government. Their extraterrestrial technology is extracted by Stanley Tucci's scientist to build soulless Transformers for national defence, but no one realises the work is revitalising the other group of alien robots, the Decepticons.

When a small-town mechanic (Mark Wahlberg) retrieves Autobot leader Optimus Prime from a disused theatre in Texas, the stage is set for another round of robot carnage.

The action eventually shifts to a Guangzhou factory, where the American transformers are built, and then Hong Kong, where the tech corporation's head (Li Bingbing) reveals she has links to the Chinese army.

Beijing pledges full support to Hong Kong in one scene, but, interestingly, the Chinese military never shows up, leaving the local police to stand around and let the robots take care of themselves. The government headquarters in Admiralty is one of the landmarks caught in the flak.

Age of Extinction does excite with its gleeful homage to our city's action filmmaking.

The film opens on Thursday.