'Batman' star punched, stopped from visiting blind Chinese activist
DONGSHIGU VILLAGE, China (CNN) -- As Christian Bale approached an impromptu checkpoint leading to this tiny village in eastern China, four men blocking the narrow path started marching toward him in menacing unison.
"I am here to see Chen Guangcheng," the Hollywood actor said and I translated, with correspondent Stan Grant and cameraman Brad Olson next to us.
"Go away!" the plainclothes guards barked, pushing us back.
Amid the scuffling and yelling, dozens more guards in olive-green, military-style overcoats -- and two gray minivans -- emerged from the other side of the checkpoint, all coming toward us.
"Why can I not visit this free man?" Bale asked repeatedly, only to receive punches from guards aiming for his small camera as they tried to drag him away from the rest of us.
As we retreated, I recognized the ringleader -- the same burly man who had hurled rocks at the CNN team 10 months earlier to force us out of the same location.
A precarious scene ensued Thursday as one of the gray minivans chased our car at high speed on bumpy country roads for some 40 minutes.
When the dust settled, we counted a broken car, a damaged camera -- and a "Batman" star disappointed at -- but not shocked by -- his failure to see a personal hero.
"What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale said.
He is helping China to promote film "The Flowers of War" and yet China don't allow him to visit Chen.