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Jet Li's Life History



Super Moderator
Dec 2, 2022
Jet Li is a well-known Chinese film actor, producer, martial artist, and former champion in the sport of Wushu. Naturalized Singaporean.
After three years with Wu Bin, Li earned his first national title with the Beijing Wushu Team. After resigning from professional Wushu at 18, he became a successful Chinese actor, debuting in Shaolin Temple (1982). He played folk hero Wong Fei-hung in Zhang Yimou's Hero (2002), Fist of Legend (1994), and the first three Once Upon a Time in China films (1991–1993). Li played Han Sing in Romeo Must Die (1998), his first starring role in a Hollywood film (2000). He starred in Kiss of the Dragon (2001) and Unleashed (2001) in a French movie (2005). He has appeared with Jason Statham in the movie The One (2001) and War (2007), alongside Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), alongside Sylvester Stallone in all three Expendables films, and as the major antagonist in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008).
Jet Lis life history

Early life and martial arts career​

Beijing-born Li was the youngest of two boys and two daughters. His father died when he was two, leaving his family impoverished.
Li was eight when a school summer session discovered his Wushu potential. After a non-sparring wushu event, he joined the Beijing Wushu Team, which performed in the All China Games. The talented child was nurtured by famous trainers Li Junfeng and Wu Bin. Wu Bin purchased Li's family meals to increase protein consumption. Li was the national all-around champion from 1975 through 1979.
My youthful age made my first-place finish a sensation. The other two medalists were in their 20s, whereas I was 12. I stood on the podium shorter than the 2nd and 3rd place medalists throughout the awards ceremony. Spectacular!

Li China's Internet Star
As a kid, Nixon wanted Li to be his bodyguard when the Chinese National Wushu Team performed for him in the US. Li said, "I won't defend anybody. I'll protect one billion Chinese people when I'm older!"
Li is proficient in Chángquán (Northern Longfist Style) and Fānziquán (Tumbling Fist).nHe also learned Baguazhang, Taijiquan, Xing Yi Quan, Zui Quan, Ying Zhao Quan, and Tanglangquan (Praying Mantis Fist). He only studied Northern Shaolin Styles; hence he never learned Nanquan (Southern Fist). He also masters Wushu's primary weapons: Sanjiegun (Three Section Staff), Gùn, Dao (Broadsword), Jian, and (Straight Sword).
Li became a Beijing Wushu assistant coach after retiring at 18. Li's martial arts talents were recognized globally.

Acting career:​

Chinese and Hong Kong films​

His sporting success launched a martial arts film career in mainland China and Hong Kong. In 1982, a Philippine advertising firm decided Li's actual name was too difficult to pronounce. They put Jet Li on the movie posters because his career "takes off" like an airplane. This new appellation, inspired by his childhood nickname "Jet" owing to his speed and elegance in Beijing Wushu training, soon became popular.
Shaolin Temple (1982) was his cinematic debut. The film smashed Chinese box office records with 161,578,014 RMB (US$85,376,199) from 500 million ticket sales. China's 1984 highest-grossing picture was Kids From Shaolin.
His renowned Chinese films include

The Once Upon a Time in China series (Chinese title: Wong Fei Hung), about the mythical Chinese folk hero Master Wong Fei Hung, and the Shaolin Temple series (1, 2, and 3), which revived the genuine Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, China.
Fist of Legend is a Bruce Lee remake.
Fong Sai Yuk movies about another traditional Chinese hero.
In 1995's High Risk, Li played a Captain who gets disillusioned when criminal lords kill his wife. He joins a zany sell-out actor, Frankie (Jacky Cheung), and fights in a high-rise building. The location resembles Die Hard and its Chinese films. Wong Jing's last picture City Hunter, was such a disaster that he made Cheung's role a sathing caricature of Jackie Chan. Li openly apologized to Chan for participating.
The 2011 wuxia flicks The Sorcerer and Tsui Hark directed the White Snake and Flying Swords of Dragon Gate.
In 2012, Li starred in Tai Chi and co-produced it with Chen Kuo-Fu to promote tai chi. Li played Yang Luchan.

American/Western films​

He performed his first villain in Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998, his international cinematic debut. After Joel Silver offered him the lead in Romeo Must Die (2000) with Aaliyah, he did Lethal. Weapon 4. The picture grossed well. Li played Chinese mafia hitman Wah Sing Ku well while speaking little English.
Li refused Chow Yun-job fat's in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) because he promised his wife he wouldn't work throughout her pregnancy. He also declined the part of Seraph in The Matrix trilogy, believing that the films were legendary and striking enough without him. Li played Kato in The Green Hornet's 2000 development. It relocated studios in 2001. In 2011, Jay Chou played Kato.
He acted in two other films in 2001: The One, his first with Jason Statham, and Kiss of the Dragon with Bridget Fonda, which fared relatively well. Li agreed to produce and appear in a 2002 or 2003 Jackie Chan action picture in July 2001, but no news of their partnership emerged until 2006. Chinese audiences saw Hero in 2002. It was the highest-grossing Chinese film at the time. He appeared in the 2003 action drama Cradle 2 the Grave with rapper DMX and martial artist Mark Dacascos. Li voiced and motion-captured Jet Li: Rise to Honor in 2004.

In 2002, John Woo gave Li the Visionary Award from East West Players, the oldest Asian American theater in the US. "Artists who have uplifted the Asian Pacific American community through theater, film, and television" are acknowledged. He spoke in Mandarin.
In 2005's Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog), Li played a serious adult with the mind of a youngster nurtured like an animal. It was a sad picture featuring dramatic performers Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman that featured Li's martial arts talents.
Fearless was published internationally in 2006. Fearless is his final wushu epic. He portrayed Huo Yuanjia, the real-life founder of the Chin Woo Athletic Association, who defeated Western boxers and Japanese martial artists in public competitions during China's decline in Fearless. In Fist of Legend, Li played Huo Yuanjia, Chen Jun, his disciple, and the avenger. Fearless debuted in Hong Kong on January 26, 2006, and in the US on September 22, 2006, it placed second in its first weekend.
I entered martial arts movies at 16. I believe I've shown my skill in this sector and shouldn't continue for another five or ten years. Huo Yuanjia ends my martial arts career.
The film's TV ads and Li's Shenzhen Daily interview claim that this will be his final martial arts epic. He wants to make movies in various genres. He wants to keep performing in epic action and martial arts films on religion and philosophy.
War, released in August 2007, reunited Li with The One co-star Jason Statham and action choreographer Corey Yuen. War earned approximately US$52 million in rental income, more than tripling its box office gain. Most of Li's American/Western films—Kiss of the Dragon, The One, Unleashed, Cradle 2 the Grave, and Fearless—have been minor successes, save for Romeo Must Die and Hero.
He masters fist and kick strength. He used too much force, inflicting tremendous discomfort. Power personified. He's the best.
Choreographer Yuen Woo-ping,

The China/Hong Kong co-production of The Warlords starring Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, brought Li back to China in late 2007. Li won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor for this drama.
The Forbidden Kingdom, which started production in May 2007 and opened to critical and economic success on April 18, 2008, was Li's debut feature with Jackie Chan. The Chinese folk tale Journey to the West's Monkey King narrative inspired the film. In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Li played the evil Emperor Han with Brendan Fraser, Isabella Leong, and Michelle Yeoh.
After a year off, Li returned to acting in 2010 as a mercenary in The Expendables, starring alongside action icons Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. Statham was his third collaborator. He briefly appeared in The Expendables 2 (2012) and the third film (2014). Donnie Yen replaced Li in XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Diesel said on Facebook.
Mulan's Emperor was Li.

Personal Life​

Tibetan Buddhist Li. Master Lho Kunsang.
Li married Beijing Wushu Team member Huang Qiuyan and had two daughters, Si and Taimi, in 1987. Divorced in 1990. Li married Shanghai-born actress Nina Li Chi in 1999. He has two kids with her, Jane (born in 2000) and Jada (born in 2002).
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami struck him in the Maldives. Despite widespread reports that he had perished in the tragedy, he only received a minor foot injury from a piece of floating furniture while escorting his 4-year-old daughter Jane and the nanny carrying his 1-year-old daughter Jada to the higher ground under rising ocean water. They narrowly escaped to the hotel's higher stories when the tsunami hit.

At the 2007 World Wushu Championships in Beijing, the Chinese Wushu Association named Li the "Image Ambassador of Wushu" (IWUF).
After working in the US, Li abandoned his US citizenship in 2009. Singaporean officials originally still need to confirm his citizenship. The head of One Foundation, Li's charitable fund, confirmed Li's Singaporean citizenship on July 28, 2009. He selected Singapore for his two younger daughters' schooling.
Wuji was his 2009 fitness program. Adidas created a "JL" apparel line for the martial arts, yoga, and pilates curriculum.
Li announced in 2013 that he had hyperthyroidism for three years. In 2016, he said he had healed and that his charitable work was why he accepted fewer film offers.
He enjoys badminton, table tennis, cycling, reading, and meditation. He collects unusual Tibetan beads. He never gets bored.

Views on life and martial arts​

As a Buddhist, Li feels religious beliefs may assist in overcoming daily challenges. He doesn't worry about fame since he can't control it.
I never think I'm the world's finest boxer. I don't think someone who practices martial arts to fight on the street, use it as a weapon, or harass and intimidate others is a legitimate martial artist.
Li says that Hero, Unleashed, and Fearless contain all of his life's messages: Hero teaches that one person's suffering is never as great as a nation's; Unleashed indicates that violence never solves anything; and Fearless shows that a person's worst adversary is himself. Li believes love and a smile are the most potent weapons.

He thinks the core of martial arts is inner harmony, not force or speed, and finds it disappointing that today's Wushu competitions emphasize form over essence. He thinks Wushu should not be a competition where the quickest athlete wins and that competitors move like machines. He wants Wushu artists to develop a particular style. Li faults new competition regulations that constrain martial artists.
Li insists that "self-defense" is not the primary purpose of Wushu. People should choose peaceful resolutions to conflicts and, if necessary, call the police instead of trying to play the hero. "The results of years of martial arts training may be negated instantly by a rifle. I've said it before, but movies just aren't real. The hero may save the day by snatching the gun from the bad guy's hand in the movies. However, it's not very likely to happen in actual life."
He has also indicated that he has never used his martial arts talents in real-life combat and does not want to.


Li has been a Red Cross Society of China "philanthropic ambassador" since January 2006. He donated 500,000 yuan (US$62,500) from Fearless' box office to the Red Cross' psychological sunshine initiative, which promotes mental wellness.
Li founded The One Foundation in April 2007 after his near-death experience in the Maldives following the 2004 tsunami. With the Red Cross, the One Foundation promotes worldwide disaster assistance, mental health awareness, and suicide prevention. Li has helped recover from seven catastrophes since founding the charity, including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan. Li and other entertainment industry figures were the first to request money, products, and supplies contributions after the 2013 Lushan earthquake in Ya'an, Sichuan. One Foundation volunteer Wu Jing assisted.
In the December 2009 Alliance magazine, Li said that "grass-roots NGOs can support the government. Government aid is often unfocused. Grassroots NGOs must be adaptable and autonomous."

He became the first International Red Cross Good Will Ambassador in September 2010. "I became the first IFRC goodwill ambassador today," he said online. Honored! It's cause for celebration, but I'll keep working to save the world even while we're partying. Again, I appreciate everything."
In September 2010, Li said he would meet Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to discuss charitable work during his Madame Tussauds wax unveiling event in Hong Kong. "Three days ago, I got an email from Gates, hoping I could make time because he and Buffett wished me to attend a 30-minute talk before the dinner about the future we face as humans so that I will go," Li added.

Taiji Zen​

Jack Ma launched Taiji Zen in 2011. Taiji Zen combines Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Chuan) with meditation. It combined them into many seminars and online programs.

Jet Li Filmography​

Jet Li is a Chinese actor, producer, martial artist, and former Wushu champion. In 1998's Lethal Weapon 4, he played a villain. Romeo Must Die, alongside Aaliyah, was his first big Hollywood role. He then starred in Kiss of the Dragon (2001) and Unleashed (2001), both French action pictures produced by Luc Besson (2005). He co-starred in The One (2001) and War (2007) with Jason Statham, The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) with Jackie Chan, all three Expendables films (2010–2014) with Sylvester Stallone, and as the titular character villain in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). He played the Emperor of China in Mulan in 2020.


YearEnglish TitleChinese TitleRoleNotes
1982Shaolin Temple少林寺Jueh Yuan
1984Kids From Shaolin少林小子San Lung
1986Born to Defence中華英雄JetDirectorial debut; a.k.a. Born to Defend (Australia) and Born to Defence (U.S.)
Martial Arts of Shaolin南北少林Zhi-Minga.k.a. Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin
1989Dragon Fight龍在天涯Jimmy Leea.k.a. Defector
The Master龍行天下JetFilmed in 1989 but released in 1992
1991Once Upon a Time in China黃飛鴻Wong Fei-Hung
1992Once Upon a Time in China II黃飛鴻之二男兒當自强Wong Fei-Hung
Swordsman II笑傲江湖之東方不敗Ling-Wu Chunga.k.a. The Legend of the Swordsman (U.S.)
1993Tai Chi Master太極張三豐Zhang SanfengAlso producer; a.k.a. Twin Warriors (U.S.)
Fong Sai-yuk方世玉Fong Sai-YukAlso producer; a.k.a. The Legend
Fong Sai-yuk II方世玉續集Fong Sai-YukAlso producer; a.k.a. The Legend II
Kung Fu Cult Master倚天屠龍記之魔教教主Cheung Mo-KeiAlso producer; a.k.a. The Evil Cult (U.S.), Lord of the Wu Tang and Kung Fu Master
Last Hero in China黃飛鴻之鐵雞斗蜈蚣Wong Fei-HungAlso producer; a.k.a. Claws of Steel and Deadly China Hero
Once Upon a Time in China III黃飛鴻之三:獅王争霸Wong Fei-HungA.k.a. The Invincible Shaolin
1994The Bodyguard from Beijing中南海保鑣Allan Hui Ching-Yeung / John ChangAlso producer; a.k.a. The Defender and Zhong Nan Hai bao biao
Fist of Legend精武英雄Chen ZhenAlso producer
The New Legend of Shaolin洪熙官之少林五祖Hung Hei-KwunAlso producer; a.k.a. Legend of the Red Dragon
1995High Risk鼠胆龍威Kit LiA.k.a. Meltdown
My Father Is a Hero給爸爸的信Kung WeiA.k.a. The Enforcer and Letter to Daddy
1996Black Mask黑俠Michael / Simon / Tsui Chik / Black MaskReleased in 1999 in the U.S.
Dr. Wai in "The Scripture with No Words"冒險王Chow Si-KitA.k.a. Adventure King and The Scripture With No Words
1997Once Upon a Time in China and America黃飛鴻之西域雄獅Wong Fei-HungA.k.a. Once Upon a Time in China IV
1998Hitman殺手之王FuA.k.a. The Hitman and The Contract Killer
Lethal Weapon 4致命武器4Wah Sing-Ku
2000Romeo Must Die致命羅密歐Han Sing
2001The One最後一強Gabe Law / Gabriel Yulaw / Lawless
Kiss of the Dragon龍之吻Inspector Liu 'Johnny' JianAlso associate producer
2002Hero英雄NamelessReleased in 2004 in the U.S.
2003Cradle 2 the Grave同盜一擊Duncan Su
2005Unleashed不死狗 (鬪犬)DannyAlso producer; a.k.a. Danny the Dog
2006Fearless霍元甲Huo YuanjiaAlso producer and presenter; a.k.a. Legend of a Fighter (Hong Kong)
2007The Warlords投名狀Pang Qingyun
War玩命對戰Rogue / Victor Shawa.k.a. Rogue Assassin and Rogue
2008The Forbidden Kingdom功夫之王Sun Wukong The Monkey King / Silent Monk
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor盜墓迷城3Emperor Han
2009The Founding of a Republic建國大業Chen ShaokuanA.k.a. Jian Guo Da Ye, Founding of the Nation and Lofty Ambitions of Nation Building
2010Ocean Heaven海洋天堂Sam Wong
The Expendables浴血任務Yin Yang
2011The Sorcerer and the White Snake白蛇傳說之法海Reverend Fahai
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate龍門飛甲Chow Wai-On
2012The Expendables 2敢死队2Yin Yang
2013Badges of Fury (The One Detective)不二神探Huang Feihong
2014The Expendables 3敢死队3Yin Yang
2016League of Gods封神榜Jiang Ziya
2017Gong Shou Dao功守道Old ServantAlso producer
2020Mulan花木蘭The Emperor of China[1]


YearDocumentary titleChinese titleNotes
1983This is Kung Fu中華武術Biographic role
1988Dragons of the Orient東方巨龍Biographic role
Abbot Hai Teng少林海燈大師Biographic role
1992Lucky Way大八掛
1994Shaolin Kung Fu少林真功夫
1999Li-Thal Weapon

Music videos​

2000"Try Again"Aaliyah featuring Timbaland

Video games​

YearTitleVoice roleNotes
2004Jet Li: Rise to HonorKit Yun (voice and motion capture actor)Released in 2004 in the United States

Awards and Nominations​

1995Golden Horse Film FestivalSpecial AwardWon
1999MTV Movie AwardsBest VillainLethal Weapon 4Nominated
2001Best FightRomeo Must DieNominated
2002The OneNominated
2003Cradle 2 the GraveNominated
2006Hundred Flowers AwardsBest ActorFearlessNominated
2007Hong Kong Film Critics Society AwardsWon
Hong Kong Film AwardsNominated
2008The WarlordsWon
Shanghai Film Critics AwardsWon
Asian Film AwardsNominated
Hundred Flowers AwardsNominated
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