JACKIE CHAN PLONKS down next to you in a movie theatre. Do you: A) battle elbows for the armrest; B) play the role of grovelling fan; C) politely inform him that he's chewing his gum very loudly; C) grant him privacy and ignore him altogether. And should it matter that the two of you are watching the 'spectacular gala premiere' of his latest movie, Shanghai Noon, in his hometown of Hong Kong? But don't let me get ahead of myself. When the entertainment editor at the South China Morning Post couldn't make it to the event, I turned on the slavishness to ensure I got the invitation. And despite my determination not to play it up to anybody, three friends heard me say: 'I'm gonna party with Jackie Chan.' Such circumstances must reveal character: I wonder if I'm really a star-lover or, worse yet, a wannabe. We're at the Convention and Exhibition Centre and amid the red carpet, the paparazzi is playing a game with security guards. One flashbulb in particular keeps forwarding the cordon to give himself a clear shot of the stars but a black-clad goon, every time he paces by, moves it back. The persistent photographer is obviously from an obscure publication because he isn't occupying prime real estate and he's working alone. The big papers and TV stations all have a spotter who, standing above everyone on a stepladder, trains his mega-watt light on anybody who's somebody, freezing them in their tracks, which, depending on what side of the equator you're from, is reminiscent of night-hunting deer or kangaroo. Jackie finally arrives in full Western regalia down to the spurs on his boots and the flashbulbs quickly form a hemisphere around him. Fortunately for the young woman working for a fledgling dotcom, the swarm functions like a meritocracy. Despite barely occupying Jackie's peripheral view, her incessant screams finally pay off when he looks her way. Multiple times Jackie tries to pull away - he can only give the victory sign and fashion his hand like a pistol and fire it so many times - but he heeds the wails to stay in place beneath the giant cardboard Wild West facade. Is anybody timing this? I abandon the hullabaloo for 'the exciting recreation of the Old West, encompassing an Indian village, a two-storey saloon, complete with bordello', according to the press release. With a hankering thirst I sidle up to the Cactus Bar but the well is dry. With only Coke and juice on tap, a lack of alcohol might as well have served as the night's metaphor: lest you're jealous of these events that grace the social pages, know that they're a reined-in affair. Even the music is wrong: they're playing Johnny Cash but it's Rawhide not Folsom Prison Blues. The next photo-op centres around the attendant celebrities - did you see Josie Ho Chiu-yee limping around with a cane? The stars are huddled together, deciding on when to approach the photographic fray. Nobody wants to be the first to go, but wait too long and the flashbulbs could lose some trigger-finger enthusiasm. When it comes to the women, I think I've derived an equation to determine their star status: the larger the retro-style sunglasses they're wearing indoors, the more famous they are. Finally, after Jackie speaks on behalf of The Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, it's showtime as the crowd clamours into the two theatres. Though I'm disappointed to see no Lover's Combo of soda and popcorn for sale, I'm more upset when I realise there's no ticket in my press packet. I return downstairs to the reception area and a PR person apologetically proffers a ticket. 'I'm sorry, I'm afraid it's not a very good seat,' she says. I take my seat on the very end of the third row, but when the show starts and nobody sits next to me I move one seat closer to centre. I decide I'm content: at least no one is sitting on either side of me. But my solitude is destroyed when, an hour into the movie, someone enters the theatre and sits down next to me. Disinterested, a few minutes pass before I glance over and see Jackie sitting in my original seat. I excitedly push up my glasses, sit up and wonder what to do. Immediately, a crony who is seated in front of Jackie, reaches back and gives him a piece of gum. Soon, Jackie decides one isn't enough. He reaches into his pocket, accidentally elbowing me in legendary Shaolin style, and jams, I believe, two more pieces of gum - mint? - into his mouth. Together, his bicuspids hard at work, we enjoyed some scenes, like when he fought the bad guy for the first time. I wanted to high-five him every time he kicked butt, even tell him that the scriptwriting, for once, wasn't outshone by the action sequences, but all I could muster was a slightly more emphatic laugh at the funny bits. You might think I lack a reporter's killer instinct but maybe we shared something, implicit yet tangible, like that comfortable silence - a vibe you could have tasted with chopsticks. Besides, he took me by surprise when he left after only half an hour and anyway, I'm sure my considerate behaviour will curry more favour in the future. Jackie, when you read this, give me a call, I'm sure you've got my number.