OSCAR winner Sean Penn narrowly avoided being jailed for attempted murder while shooting 1986 movie SHANGHAI SURPRISE on the Chinese island of Macao.

The actor was attacked by a mystery man shortly after arriving at his hotel on the Portuguese territory.

Fortunately Penn was with his personal assistant, a kickboxing coach, and the pair "grabbed the guy, ran him through the room to the balcony and hung him over - on the ninth floor", the actor writes in a new biography by RICHARD KELLY.

Penn then discovered the man was a paparazzi photographer and hauled him back on the balcony, but the police were called and the star arrested.

He continues, "Five minutes later I'm in jail, sitting on a stone floor next to my friend, and everyone's talking Portuguese."

Penn and his assistant escaped jail when they spotted the cell door was ajar, ran for the dock and escaped Macao on a jetfoil.

The actor tells Kelly he was later given a "pardon from the Portuguese government".

21/12/2004 19:54