Survivors angry over 'Pain & Gain' depiction
MIAMI (AP) — The real-life murder, torture and kidnapping case from South Florida that's behind the coming movie "Pain & Gain" indeed reads like a script — just not a funny one.
The fact that the film, starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is an action-comedy has angered survivors of the Sun Gym gang's crimes and those who investigated them nearly two decades ago.
"You are talking about real people. And in this particular case, especially when you're talking about the murder victims, these were innocent victims," said retired Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Felix Jimenez.
Zsuzsanna Griga told The Miami Herald that the movie's depiction of the gang as sympathetic bumblers just trying to get ahead is "ridiculous." Gang members murdered and dismembered her brother and his girlfriend.
"It's horrible what happened to them," said Griga, who lives in Hungary. She could not be reached by The Associated Press. "I don't want the American public to be sympathetic to the killers," she said.
The Paramount film, which opens April 26 and is directed by Michael Bay of "Transformers" and "Armageddon" fame, 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. Paramount declined comment.
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, who were denizens of the Sun Gym, which was known for its hardcore bodybuilders. Johnson plays Paul Doyle, a fictional member of the crew.
In this Monday, April 1, 2013 photo Marc Schiller speaks to the Associated Press at his office in Boca Raton, Fla. Schiller was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead by a South Florida gang in 1994. Schiller wrote about his experience in the book, "Pain and Gain: The Untold True Story." The kidnapping has been made into a movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. It is set to be released April 26th. (AP Photo/Suzette Laboy)
Lugo, a charming conman who had served prison time for defrauding seniors, was the gym's manager. He hired Doorbal, a gym rat and steroids abuser, as a part-time employee and cut him in on a lucrative Medicare fraud scheme. Delgado, one of Lugo's clients at the gym, had once worked for Marc Schiller, a wealthy Miami businessman whom they targeted for kidnapping.
They attempted to abduct Schiller about half-dozen times, once disguised as ninjas (which the movie pokes fun at). They finally succeed, snatching Schiller in 1994 outside his deli. They kept him at Delgado's warehouse for a month and tortured him with lighters, a Taser, sleep deprivation and water boarding until he had his wife and children move to Colombia and he signed over his home, a life insurance policy and millions of dollars in investments. Schiller, who later pled guilty to Medicare fraud, said he had earned the stolen money honestly through an accounting practice and other investments and businesses.