/ : Jet Li /


Birth Name: Li Lian-jie
Birthdate: April 26, 1963
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Occupations: Actor, Musician
Quote: "For me, [Hong Kong films] have become too violent. I want to give a smart and postive image to martial arts, not this bloody, fight-for-no-reason image," - Village Voice, July 22, 1997
 
Jet Li 
Photo
 
 

Claim to Fame: Played real-life folk hero Wong Fei Hung in Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China (1992)

Significant Other(s):
Wife: actress; Chinese; married 1988-90; divorced

Family:
Brothers: has two
Sisters: has two
Children: has two

Biography
One of the most popular stars of Hong Kong films of the early 1990s, the compact, charismatic Jet Li was at one time considered the heir to the late Bruce Lee. A child prodigy in martial arts, he excelled in the high-kicking "wu shu" style, winning several national championships and traveling around the world (including a 1974 US visit to the Nixon White House). Before turning 20, Jet Li made his film debut as a fighting priest in "Shaolin Temple" (1982), which was banned in Taiwan but proved popular throughout Asia. After two sequels, "Shaolin Temple II: Kids From Shaolin" (1984) and "Shaolin Temple III: Martial Arts of Shaolin" (1986), both of which showcased his talents, Jet made his directorial debut with the unsuccessful "Born to Defend" (also 1986). 5Since he had only been earning a limited salary, Jet Li obtained a two-year exit permit and settled in San Francisco with a Chinese actress who would briefly become his wife. "The Master" (filmed in San Francisco in 1989 but not released until 1992) was a minor modern-day kung fu thriller, more notable as the first time Jet Li worked with director Tsui Hark. Instead of returning to China in 1990, the actor settled in Hong Kong, where he attempted to rejuvenate his sagging career by signing with Golden Harvest. His breakthrough screen role came in 1990 when Tsui Hark cast him as real-life folk hero Wong Fei Hung in "Once Upon a Time in China". Despite critical carping over Jet Li's relative youth and his training in another martial arts discipline, the period piece offered the performer a strong role and he more than met the challenges exhibiting the requisite stoic aura. He went on to reprise the role in two sequels (in 1992), but an ankle injury forced the use of a double in several fight sequences. Nevertheless, Jet Li dominated the films in a role many felt he was born to play. The actor, however, felt financially underappreciated and after a series of disputes parted company with Golden Harvest. (He was replaced by another actor for two sequels before resuming the franchise in 1997's "Once Upon a Time in China and America", which can be qualified as a kung fu Western.) Over a five year period (1992-97), Jet Li appeared in over two dozen films of varying quality. He scored as another martial artist folk hero "Fong Sai Yuk" (1993) and played his signature role of Wong Fei Hung in the uneven "The Last Hero in China" (also 1993), which he also produced. Additionally, he starred in the biopics "Tai Chi Master" (also 1993) and "New Legend of Shaolin" (1994), By the time of "Black Mask" (1996), an attempt to create a new franchise based on a popular Hong Kong comic book, his career was on the wane once again. Despite numerous offers from bigwigs like Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, Jet Li took his time following fellow HK actors Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat to L.A. At one time he was attached to a Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle and withdrew just before filming. Finally, in 1998, Jet Li appeared in his first American studio film, playing the martial artist villain opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in "Lethal Weapon 4". It would remain to be seen if the handsome actor's galvanizing screen presence could be transplanted in a Hollywood blockbuster.

Filmography
Lord of the Wu Tang
Kiss of the Dragon (2001)
The One (2001)
Romeo Must Die (2000)
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
The Hitman (1998)
Black Mask (1997)
Once Upon A Time In China And America (1997)
My Father Is a Hero (1995)
High Risk (1995)
The New Legend of Shaolin (1994)
Fist of Legend (1994)
The Bodyguard from Beijing (1994)
Fong Sai-Yuk (1993)
Fong Sai-Yuk 2 (1993)
Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)
The T'ai Chi Master (1993)
Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
Swordsman II (1992)
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
The Master (1989)
Born to Defence (1988)
Martial Arts of Shaolin Temple (1985)
Kids From Shaolin (1984)
The Shaolin Temple (1982)
 

Awards:
1974: Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wu Shu champion
1975: Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wu Shu champion
1977: Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wu Shu champion
1978: Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wu Shu champion
1979: Youth National Athletic Competition: Gold Medal, Wu Shu champion

Factoids:
Made first trip to the USA to perform in a wu shu troupe at the White House for President Richard Nixon (1974)

Education:
Beijing Athletic School, Beijing, China; majored in martial arts

 


 

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