Jet Li: biography
Jet Li is a Chinese and Singaporean actor, athlete, martial artist. The man became famous after starring in films about martial arts. He starred in such Asian and Hollywood action movies as Kiss of the Dragon, Fearless, The Expendables, and others.
Childhood and youth
Li Lianjie (actor's real name) was born in the capital of China, Beijing. Li was the fifth, the youngest child in his large family. When Lianjie was barely two years old, the boy's father died suddenly, so the family was impoverished.
Li went to school later than most of the children, only when he was eight years old. The boy's favorite subject at school was Physical Education (PE). In the summer after the first grade, Lianjie went to a sports camp with his classmates, where he first learned what such martial art as Wushu was. After the sports camp, the coach suggested that only Lianjie, out of the entire class, should continue his training. That's why Li started training not only physical technique of Wushu every day but also engaged in the spiritual side of this martial art.
At the age of nine, the boy entered the national Wushu championship and won it. This success led to the exemption from school, and so Lianjie could devote himself entirely to fighting, competitions and sports achievements.
Two years later, the boy, as a member of the national team went to the championship in the United States, where he performed so splendidly that he received personal praise of American President, Richard Nixon. But the main achievement of this trip Li saw in the fact that he began to change his world perception, realizing that ordinary people in the United States do not want to harm the Chinese people.
After returning home, the boy participated in the national championship and won in two categories: all-round competitions and Dao (Broadsword) performance. Then the best teachers in the country became Li's Senseis. In a year the boy won in five categories, even though Lianjie's rivals were adult athletes.
Between 1976 and 1979, Li won a number of medals and prizes in various competitions. Also in 1977, as part of the Wushu team, Lianjie made a world tour, during which he showed all sorts of tricks. The purpose of this tour was to popularize Chinese Wushu art in other countries. Li did an excellent job completing this task.
Five years later, Li's filmography began, drawing more attention of the world to martial arts.
Noticing the guy, who skillfully controlled his body and perfectly knew Wushu, director Chang Hsin Yen invited Li to try himself in acting. Of course, it was a movie about a young man who was a master of martial arts. The debut film for Lianjie, who took the stage name Jet Li, was the movie The Shaolin Temple, telling the story of an orphan boy, who was brought up in the temple of Shaolin monks.
The film was released in 1982 and was a resounding success. Therefore, the directors immediately began to shoot the sequel, Kids From Shaolin, produced in 1983, and Martial Arts of Shaolin, which came out in 1986.
Then followed a short break in the filming, and only in 1991, the world saw another important motion picture Once Upon a Time in China, where Jet Li played the role of the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung. The film was a success and again became a trilogy, with other films being released in the next two years.
Also in 1993 the movie The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk, which became genuinely legendary for all the fans of the films in the style of Hong Kong action movies came out. The following year, a remake of the movie by Jet Li's idol, Bruce Lee, was released. The new film was called Fist of Legend, and the plot repeated the famous action movie Fist of Fury.
Jet Li became a prominent figure in Asian cinematography, and the actor always played good characters.
In 1994, the actor appeared in the Hong Kong action movie The Bodyguard from Beijing. Jet Li got the part of a professional bodyguard who was hired to protect a girl, the only witness to the murder arranged by the local mafia. The bodyguard would have to fight with an organized group of killers.
In 1995, the actor got the main part in the Hong Kong action film The Enforcer (also known as Jet Li's The Enforcer and My Father Is a Hero). In this movie, a classic Asian action film about martial arts is intertwined with family drama. Jet Li plays the character of an undercover police officer. Because of his work, the officer can not spend enough time with his sick wife and young son. The man manages to find time only for one competition of his child and then again disappears to complete his task. His character must induct into the gang that plans to arrange terrorist attacks, and prevent the explosions.
In 1996, Jet Li starred in the Hong Kong action film Black Mask. The actor got into the character of Tsui Chik, who in modern cinematography would have been called "a superhero wearing a mask." Tsui Chik is a product of a military experiment, a former super soldier who can't feel pain. Chik goes into hiding and starts living a quiet life of a librarian, but when the hero learns that the criminals operating in the city are also former super-soldiers, Tsui puts on a black mask to stop his former comrades.
In the late 90s Jet Li faced two life challenges at the same time: first, the actor was invited to star in Hollywood, and second, he was given the role of a "bad guy," something that had never happened to the actor before. However, he did an excellent job playing the character of Wah Sing Ku in the buddy cop action comedy film Lethal Weapon 4.
Curiously, Jet Li was offered a role in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but he turned it down because he preferred to be with his wife during her pregnancy. He could also star in The Matrix, but he didn’t agree to star in it too, saying that even ordinary actors who do not know martial arts can play in the film with such amount of computer graphics. Even though Li did not appear in these two legendary motion pictures, his skill and acting talent are recognized throughout the world.
In 2000, the actor starred in an American action film inspired by other martial arts movies called Romeo Must Die. The main highlight of the movie in the eyes of the fans was a four-minute clip of the incredible prison break performed by Jet Li, in which the actor fought with the guards being upside down, his leg was attached to the ceiling. The actor played the character of the son of the head of the Chinese mafia in America, who was nonetheless a good guy. The primary goal of Jet Li's character was to stop the bloody war between the gangs and establish peace in the city.
This was followed by a number of successful action films: Kiss of the dragon, The One, Cradle 2 the Grave, Once Upon a Time in China and America, as well as movies of other genres. Jet Li starred in the Chinese wuxia film Hero and the drama films Danny the Dog, Ocean Heaven and Fearless.
In 2007, came out the American action movie War, in which Jet Li played a controversial character. The Chinese actor played the role of the elusive killer who killed an FBI agent and his family. The partner of the agent, whose character was played by another famous action films actor Jason Statham, swore that he would take revenge for the death of his friend. As a result of intrigues and fights, it turned out that the characters were not what they seemed to be.
In 2008, an action movie about martial arts The Forbidden Kingdom, in which Jet Li played together with another Asian star, Jackie Chan was released. In the same year, Jet Li played the main villain of the film from the popular series of adventure movies about archaeologists and mummies, Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. His character, Dragon Emperor, came alive and tried to take over the entire world.
And two years later the world was fascinated by the movie The Expendables. The action film became famous even before its release. Stallone's project, intended to bring back the spirit of the 80s and the 90s and gather all the stars of this genre, gained momentum. In 2012, came out the sequel The Expendables 2, and in 2014, another film of the series The Expendables 3, was produced.
In 2016, Jet Li played a major role in the Chinese fantasy film League of Gods. The film tells the story of a mad Emperor who wanted power over demons and to achieve that he let himself become possessed by the Black Dragon. But the spirit makes its own plans to conquer the world. Three characters can defeat the Dragon, and so they set out on their way to find a magical sword that can crush the evil spirit.
In the same year, the actor appeared in the action movie Fearless, which tells the biography of the Chinese hero, the master of martial arts, Huo Yuanjia.
Also in January 2016, a news item spread around the Internet, that Jet Li would join the cast of the action movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage, the third film of the "xXx" series, starring, as in the previous films, Vin Diesel. But for unknown reasons, Jet Li left the project and was replaced with Donnie Yen.
Jet Li's first marriage was in 1987 with Huang Qiuyan, who, like him, was a member of the Chinese Wushu team. Also, Huang was a partner of Jet in his debut film Shaolin Temple. The couple had two daughters, but they were together only for three years.
In 1999, the actor remarried. This time the actress from Hong Kong Nina Li Chi became his significant other. They had two daughters, Jane and Jada.
Jet Li works with charities; he is also a "philanthropic ambassador" of the Red Cross Society of China. The actor is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. And he considers Wushu to be a sport and an opportunity for spiritual perfection, but as a way of self-defense, according to Jet Li, Eastern martial arts cannot withstand the critique. Fans suggest that such conclusions of the actor were influenced by the difference between the body sizes of Jet Li and his American fellow actors. Jet Li's height is 5 foot 5, and his weight, according to various media outlets, is estimated at around 132-152 pounds, which by the standards of Hollywood are miniature parameters.
In 2004, Jet Li was on vacation in the Maldives with his daughter. Just at the time when the tsunami broke out in South-East Asia. At first, it was believed that the actor died during the natural disaster, but later it turned out that he just hurt his leg when he was rescuing his daughter out of the lobby of the hotel.
In 2008, according to Singaporean Newspapers, the actor received Singaporean citizenship and bought a property in the city with a total value of $14 million, but neither the actor's representatives nor the migration service commented on this news.
Jet Li now
In 2018, the actor turned 55, but today not all fans will recognize him. In May, a photo of Jet Li was posted on social media, in which he looks old and unhealthy. Fans were seriously worried, and the media spread the news, exaggerating it.
Later it turned out that all worries were in vain. The photo was just not a very good one. The official representatives of Jet Li hastened to say that in fact, all was well. In an interview with journalists, they said that Li didn't have any severe health problems at the time.
However, the manager of the actor confirmed that Jet Li suffered from such a disease as Hyperthyroidism. It is the condition that occurs due to excessive production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. But this disease is not life-threatening. Increased gland activity leads to changes in metabolism and a fast heart rate. For example, in 2013, the actor appeared on the Chinese talent show and seemed to gain some weight. Then he told journalists that he was going through a treatment which can't be combined with physical activities.
After another wave of rumors about his health, the actor decided to talk to the fans on his Facebook page. The actor thanked everyone for their concern and said that he felt great. He also said that he was looking forward to presenting to the audience new projects, on which he is working now.
Jet Li has an account on Instagram, and until the end of January 2018, he regularly posted on it, but then, for unknown reasons, he stopped using it. Judging by the latest photos, the actor has changed. The man changed his hair (now he is bald), wears horn-rimmed glasses, and can often be seen wearing a baseball cap. It is possible that a radical change of appearance affected the flow of rumors about his health condition.
In 2017, he starred in the short film Guardians of Martial Arts and regularly talked about it on Instagram, posting more and more photos. This was a project by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. Ma played the central role. The plot of the film is simple: a man, in turn, calls out different opponents, who are representatives of different styles of martial arts, to fight him. Besides Jet Li, the members of the filming crew were Tony Jaa, Donnie Yen, Jacky Wu Jing, Natasha Liu Bordizzo and other actors of action movies. Everyone worked on this project for free as first of all actors sought to promote martial art as a culture of health improvement.
For the fans of the actor, this short film is also valuable because there Li played a fighting role. By the way, Jet Li controls his body as perfectly as he did in his youth. Indeed, in the previous film League of Gods, he got the part of Chinese "Gandalf," and there wasn't even a hint of fighting, viewers love so much.
Also in May 2018, it was posted on the Internet, that Jet Li would take part in the live-action remake of Mulan, and that he would play the Emperor of China. The premiere is scheduled for March 27, 2020.
- 1982 –Shaolin Temple
- 1991 –Once Upon a Time in China
- 1993 –Fong Sai-yuk
- 1994 – The Bodyguard from Beijing
- 1995 –The Enforcer
- 1996 – Black Mask
- 2000 – Romeo Must Die
- 2001 – Kiss of the Dragon
- 2007 – The Warlords
- 2008 – The Forbidden Kingdom
- 2008 – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
- 2010 – The Expendables
- 2010 – Ocean Heaven
- 2016 – Fearless
- 2016 – League of Gods