Jet Li

Jet Li

His role as Huang Feihong in Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)

Background:

ďFor me, (Hong Kong films) have become too violent. I want to give a smart and
positive image to martial arts, not this bloody, fight-for-no-reason image.Ē Jet
Li

One of the worldís biggest action stars, Jet Li, born Li Lian-jie in Beijing,
China, was a well-known Wushu athlete in China with five gold medals from Youth
National Athletic Competitions, before becoming a martial arts film star.
Gaining popularity in mainland China with such well-liked vehicles as Shaolin
Temple (1982) and its continuations in 1983 and 1986, Li went on to achieve his
star status in Hong Kong cinema during the 1990s. One of the most popular stars
of Hong Kong films in the early 90s, Li became famous for his Wong Fei Hung role
in the box office hits Once Upon a Time in China (1991) and the victorious
sequels Once Upon a Time in China II (1992) and Once Upon a Time in China III
(1993). He further solidified his reputation as Chinaís most in-demand star with
popular films like The Legend (1993) and its installment The Legend II (also in
1993), The Tai-Chi Master (1993), Fist of Legend (1994) and Meltdown (1995),
among others.

After his success in Hong Kong, Li broadened his popularity to Hollywood films,
making his debut with the blockbuster hit Lethal Weapon (1998). Since then, he
has appeared in such popular films as Romeo Must Die (2000), Kiss of the Dragon
(2001), The One (2001), the phenomenon hit Jet Liís Hero (2002), his largest
Hollywood hit Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) and Unleashed (2005). In 2006, he added
Fearless to his impressive acting resume.

One of the most popular movie stars in China, Jet Li, whose favorite sports are
badminton and table tennis, was paid $7,500,000 for The One (2001), $5,000,000
for Kiss of the Dragon (2001), $2,400,000 for Romeo Must Die (2000) and $700 for
Shaolin Tzu (1982). As for his private life, Li has been married twice. He tied
the knot with first wife Qiuyan Huang in 1987, with whom he shares two children,
but the couple later divorced. He is now married to actress Nina Li and has two
children with her.


Wushu Star

Childhood and Family:

In Beijing, China, Li Lian-jie, who would later be popular as Jet Li, was born
on April 26, 1963. His father died when Li was only two, leaving him under the
guidance of his overprotective single mother. The stringent parenting resulted
in Li being a very shy and scared child. At age 8, Li began training at Beijing
Athletic School, where he majored in the martial arts of Wushu. Studying under
the tutor Wu Bin, Li was so good that he soon established himself as the most
talented student in the class.

Although he considered dropping out of the program during his first year, Li
made it big when he won the title of all-around Champion for his mastery of
spear play and swordplay at the National Wushu Championships when he was 11. A
Wushu sensation in China, he continued the success by taking home multiple Youth
National Athletic Competition awards in 1975, 1977 and 1978. In 1979, he gained
his highest achievement in martial arts when he was crowned Gold Champion at the
Chinese National Martial Arts Competition. The popularity gained by his sport
titles led to a career as a martial arts film star.

Jet Li married Beijing Wushu Team member and Shaolin Temple series co-star
Qiuyan Huang in 1987 and has two children with her. The marriage later ended in
divorce. Li next tied the knot with Shanghai-born, Hong Kong-based actress Nina
Li on September 19, 1999. With his second wife, Li also has two kids.


Once Upon a Time in China

Career:

A child prodigy of martial arts, Jet Li began his career as a Wushu athlete
before becoming a movie actor. Training by the age of 8, Li quickly became a
phenomenon in China after winning his first of five gold medals when he was only
11. His fame in mainland China was so great that the Government selected young
Li to represent the country in over 45 countries by staging martial arts at
various state functions. Most notably was Liís 1974 performance on the lawn of
the Whitehouse for President Richard Nixon. Lured by the victory, Le decided to
pursue a career in acting.

His first taste in front of the film camera arrived in 1982 when Li was cast as
a fighting pastor, who seeks revenge for his fatherís murder, in Shaolin Temple.
The results were amazing and the film became a huge hit throughout Asia,
including Hong Kong, Korea and China. His rising star was further established in
the following years with two highly successful films, the sequels Shaolin Temple
2: Kids from Shaolin (1983) and Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin
(1986). With such impressive accomplishments, Le became an immediate star in
China. In 1986, however, Li had to deal with disappointment when his directorial
debut, the World War II epic Born to Defend, in which he also starred, was a
critical and financial failure. No longer a profitable actor, in 1988, Li
obtained a two-year exit visa from China and settled in San Francisco.

While in America, Li met director Tsui Hark who soon cast him in the minor,
modern-day Kung Fu thriller film The Master (1989), Liís first feature filmed in
America, although it was not widely released until 1992. In 1990, Li made his
way to Hong Kong and tried to renew his drooping career by signing with Golden
Harvest. Not long after the agreement, the martial arts actor delivered his big
breakthrough when he rejoined Tsui Hark for the historical martial arts film,
the 1991 Once Upon a Time in China. Starring as real-life folk hero Wong Fei
Hung, Li gained international stardom as the film became a worldwide success. It
was followed by the successful installments Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
and Once Upon a Time in China III (1993), which resulted in Li once again
becoming the most in-demand star in China.

Over a five year period (1992-97), Li dominated the scene with numerous films,
including Kung Fu Master (1993), Deadly China Hero (1993), the popular The
Legend (1993) and its continuation The Legend II (also in 1993), The Bodyguard
from Beijing (1994, which also marked Liís producing debut), The Tai-Chi Master
(1993), the famed Fist of Legend (1994), The New Legend of Shaolin (1994),
Meltdown (1995, played a cop who becomes disenchanted after his wife is murdered
by crime lords), The Enforcer (1995), Adventure King (1996), Black Mask (1996)
and Once Upon a Time in China VI (1997). In 1998, Li made his Hollywood debut
with the Richard Donner-directed Lethal Weapon 4, where he was perfectly cast as
the antagonist Wah Sing Ku, opposite such American stars as Mel Gibson, Danny
Glover, Rene Russo and Chris Rock. The filmís success subsequently put Li on the
Hollywood map.

Impressed by Liís performance in Lethal Weapon 4, producer Joel Silver hired the
actor to star in the 2000 film Romeo Must Die. Helmed by veteran cinematographer
Andrzej Bartkowiak and choreographed by Liís long-term stunt coordinator Corey
Yuen, the film performed steadily at the box office. As for Jet Li, he was
nominated for a MTV Movie award for Best Fight in 2001. After taking some time
off to marry, and perfect his English, Li returned to filmmaking in 2001 to star
with Bridget Fonda in the movie Kiss of the Dragon, co-written and co-produced
by Luc Besson. The movie saw Li play Liu Jian, a Chinese officer who helps a
single mom rescue her daughter from kidnappers. The same year, James Wong cast
Li in the dual role of the hero Gabe Law, a fame and peace-loving veteran of the
Los Angeles County Sheriffís Department, and the villainous Gabriel Yulaw, his
mirror image, in the sci-fi martial arts thriller The One. Li earned his second
MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Fighting for his performance in the film.


Liís status continued to rise in the following year when he teamed up with
Chinese renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou in Jet Liís Hero. The big-budgeted film
become a massive hit in Asia and Europe, and was nominated for an Academy Award
in 2003 in the foreign language category. He had another victory in his hand in
the next year when he rejoined rapper-actor DMX and director Andrzej Bartkowiak
for the sleeper hit Cradle 2 the Grave. The action thriller marked Liís largest
Hollywood hit.

In 2005, Li costarred with dramatic actors Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman in the
Luc Besson-penned, action-drama Unleashed. Recently, Li finished the movie
Fearless (2006), a film that, according to Shenzhen Daily newspaper, he declared
as his last performance in martial art films because he wants to be recognized
as an actor.
ďI stepped into the martial arts movie market when I was only 16. I think I have
proved my ability in this field and it wonít make sense for me to continue for
another five or 10 years. Huo Yuanjia is a conclusion to my life as a martial
arts star.Ē Jet Li on his departure from martial art films

Jet Li is now reportedly working on his new thriller film, Rogue, which will
team Li with actor Jason Statham and action choreographer Corey Yuen.


Awards:

Golden Horse Film Festival: Special Award, A Main Land Person, 1995
Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wushu champion, 1979
Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wushu champion, 1978
Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wushu champion, 1977
Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wushu champion, 1975
Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wushu champion, 1974
I want to thank my mum, my daddy, my coach, my teacher, everybody in my life.More Jet Li quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
He said, ĎHere is the deal: Play the bad guy first, then I give you a good guy next,í Ö I asked him what the movie was called, (and) he said ĎRomeo Must Die.í (It) sounds like a romantic story, not an action movie.More Jet Li quotes [06/23/2007 12:06:00]
A weapon isn't good or bad, depends on the person who uses it.More Jet Li quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
Zhang Yimou tried to use martial arts to talk about Chinese culture, Chinese people. What do they think, what do they want and what do they hope.More Jet Li quotes [03/12/2018 02:03:32]
Hong Kong film audiences are very quiet. It's their culture.More Jet Li quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

Quotes of the month

George Gordon Byron This is to be mortal, And seek the things beyond mortality. [03/29/2018 05:03:36] More


Albert Camus Somebody has to have the last word. If not, every argument could be opposed by another and we'd never be done with it. [03/29/2018 05:03:36] More


Michael Landon I've got nine kids, nine dogs, three grandkids - and one in the oven. And three parrots! [03/29/2018 05:03:36] More


Helen Keller The things you do today that you don't have to do will determine who, what, and where you will be when it is too late to do anything about the things you should have done. [03/29/2018 05:03:36] More


Henry David Thoreau Treat your friends for what you know them to be. Regard no surfaces. Consider not what they did, but what they intended. [03/29/2018 05:03:36] More