Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Bay's action comedy causes upset

Mark Wahlberg stars in Michael Bay's film Pain And Gain

Michael Bay's new action comedy Pain And Gain, starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, has upset some of the real life victims of the gang the story is based on.

The Transformers director's latest film is based on the true story of the Sun Gym gang and is adapted from a series of Miami New Times articles about a group of 1990s bodybuilders who hatched a brutal get-rich-quick kidnapping scheme that eventually escalated to murder.

The New Times series told of mastermind Daniel Lugo, played by Wahlberg, his sadistic muscleman Noel Doorbal, played by Anthony Mackie, and Jorge Delgado, who is not portrayed in the movie. Johnson plays Paul Doyle, a fictional member of the crew.

The gang kidnapped and tortured Marc Schiller, a wealthy Miami businessman, until he signed over his home and fortune to them. They then moved into his house and tried to kill him by setting fire to his car and crashing it and then trying to run him over. Somehow, he survived.

In the movie, Schiller is renamed Victor Kershaw. Played by Tony Shalhoub, Kershaw is described by Wahlberg's character as a criminal who deserves to have bad things happen to him. Surrounded by women in skimpy bikinis, he's seen in a pool while smoking a cigar.

"It's not who I am," said Schiller, who now works in an accounting office. He says he was married and a homebody at the time of the kidnapping and never smoked cigars. "It's supposed to represent me but it doesn't."

The movie also gives some details about at least one killing that happened after Schiller's escape - that of Frank Griga and his girlfriend Krisztina Furton.

Frank's sister Zsuzsanna Griga, whose brother and his girlfriend were murdered and dismembered by the gang, told The Miami Herald that the movie's depiction of the gang as sympathetic bumblers just trying to get ahead is "ridiculous". "It's horrible what happened to them," said Griga, who lives in Hungary. "I don't want the American public to be sympathetic to the killers," she said.

When Griga and Furton were reported missing, the investigation quickly focused on the Sun Gym gang. Delgado became a prosecution witness against Lugo and Doorbal, who were convicted of murder in 1998 and sentenced to death. They are awaiting execution. Delgado got 15 years.

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