Though Christian Bale's new China-set movie The Flowers of War takes place in the past, during the 1930 attack on Nanjing by Japanese soldiers, the actor has gotten involved in modern Chinese politics as a result of filming there-- and recently got into a scuffle with Chinese authorities for his troubles. A CNN reporter joined Bale in an effort to visit Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who was arrested for protesting the abuses of China's family-planning officials, and has been under house arrest since September of 2010. There are guards blocking the entrance to Chen's house, and in the video captured by CNN, you can see Bale attempt to walk down the road, only to be blocked by guards to shout at him "Go away!"

According to the CNN report, they were then followed by the officials in a high-speed chase on bumpy country roads, resulting in damage to the car and the camera. Bale was making an effort to visit the jailed protester to bring attention to his situation which has been largely ignored in global media despite calls from Secretary of State Clinton and the American ambassador to China, Gary Locke, for Chen to be freed. Many of his supporters have attempted to visit Chen and met the same resistance; Bale insisted to CN , "I'm not brave doing this," Bale emphasized. "The local people who are standing up to the authorities, who are visiting Chen and his family and getting beaten or detained, I want to support them."

Obviously Bale isn't presenting himself as some kind of protester hero, and his humility about the incident is refreshing-- there are plenty of celebrities who would use their name to bring attention to a cause, but also to themselves. Bale now isn't sure if he'll be allowed to visit China again thanks to his support of Chen, even as Flowers of War is being submitted by China as their contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. There are consequences for speaking your mind in China, even when you're Batman.

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