Assault charge for Mr Violence

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QUENTIN TARANTINO, the master of movie violence, himself faces third-degree assault charges.

The director, whose triumphs, depending on your taste and squeamishness, include Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and who is currently starring in a Broadway thriller, Wait Until Dark, could face a year in prison if the charges are proved.

They stem from a fracas in a Manhattan restaurant in May. Angered by intrusions on his privacy, Mr Tarantino allegedly struck Leila Mwagni, 25, a fashion stylist,in the face with a punch meant for her photographer boyfriend, Barron Clairborne.

Mr Tarantino surrendered to police in New York's East Village on Thursday evening, after they announced that criminal charges were to be filed. He then left the police station for his regular performance on Broadway.

Ms Mwagni has already filed for civil damages. Her suit, filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court, seeks $5m (pounds 3m) in compensatory damages and $10m in punitive damages. Those are tidy sums, given that the most she apparently suffered was a cut forehead.

A lawyer for Mr Tarantino, Paul Callan, was predictably scornful of the criminal charges. He suggested that they were being pursued by the stylist to buttress her civil case. "This is celebrity stalking of the worst possible kind," he said.

For Mr Tarantino, the charges only add insult to a fairly injurious sojourn in Manhattan. His performance alongside Marisa Tomei in Wait Until Dark was panned by theatre critics.