Jet Li biography
Birth Name: Li Lian Jie
Date of Birth: April 26, 1963
Losing his father at an early age, this Beijng, China native was brought up by his mother and became a
model son. He went ot the Changqiao Primary School and excelled academically.
China's compulsory fitness program placed little Li in the Wushu class. The hard working student was a
naturally gifted in Wushu, but seemed extremely fatigued and his somewhat overprotective mother began
Nevertheless, Li persevered and trained everyday, rain or shine. He quickly rose to become a top
student and soon found himself competing in national contests and representing China all over the
world. At age 11, he first competed in the Chinese National Wushu Championships, and went on to win
the competition a total of five times. Li won first place in the boxing item, swordsplay, spearplay,
routine boxing, Pu swordsplay and duel practice. Li continued to train and work hard, and by the end
of the seventies, he became a National Coach.
Li was drawn towards the idea of starring in martial art movies. While on tour, audiences would ask
when they could see him in kung fu films. The chance came in 1981, when he was approached to star in
the film Shaolin Temple. He accepted and when the film was released, it broke box office records in
Hong Kong and Korea.
Li became an overnight success and a legend in his own country. People would queue up outside his
house in the hope of getting a glimpse of this rising star. And it wasn't long before Li was back in
front of the cameras with the comedy sequel Kids From Shaolin (1983).
Li decided to turn his hand to directing his own production, which he was also to star in. Born To
Defend (1986) was set during the Second World War, and Li played a young soldier who took on all
takers inside the boxing ring. The finished movie was very unpolished and the box office figures
reflected the lack of public interest.
Disappointed, Li spent the next two years trying to get U.S. citizenship, claiming that he was not
able to express himself as freely as he would like, and that he had no power when it came to putting
forward creative ideas. Luckly his move west was to prove invaluable. After a slow start in (1988), Li worked on Once Upon A Time In China (1991). The movie was a huge success worldwide
and critically acclaimed, and Li went on to star in two sequels.
With Li at the top of the hot property list, everyone wanted a piece of him, and it was Golden
Princess studio who were lucky enough to sign him to star in Swordsman 2 : Invincible Dawn (1991).
When the film opened in Taiwan, it took the highest lunar new year box office ever.
A frantic panic broke out amongst producers who were desperate to get Li in their film, and some
people were prepared to go to any lengths to get him. Later that year Li's personal manager was
gunned down in Kowloon. the reason was not clear, but talk in film circles said he had refused to let
jet star in some unscrupulous Triad (a studio) production.
The year 1993 was to be Li's biggest. He set up his own production company Jing Tung, and produced
the fabulous Fong Sai-Yuk. Jet Li had once again created a tremendous hit, and he admitted, "This is
as close to me as any character I've played."
In recent years Li has found even more fame with several modern day action movies, including a
brilliant performance in Fist of Legend (1994), a remake of the Bruce Lee classic Fist of Fury.
He would later release Black Mask (1996) into foreign theatres. Although the film's story left much to
be desired, the fight scenes left American audiences stunned and hungry for more.
Foreign interest was growing in Hong Kong films, and a good friend of Li's suggested that he take a role
in his new Jean-CLaude Van Damme vehicle Knock Off. But Li pulled out at the last minute and decided
to look at Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) instead. This fourth instalment in the American buddy-cop franchise
included a thrilling hand-to-hand battle with Mel Gibson; many felt that Li stole the show and made a
promising mark in the Hollywood action genre.
In 1999, Li took on his first English-speaking role in Romeo Must Die. He has gone on to starring roles in Kiss Of The Dragon (2001), Cradle to the Grave (2003), Hero (2004), Jet Li's Fearless (2006), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), The Expendables (2010) and The Expendables 2 (2012).
Divorced from his first wife, Qiu-yan Huang, with whom he has two children, Li married Nia Li Chi in September 1999. They have two children together.
Jet Li Filmography