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Legend Of The Red Dragon... The legendary Jet Li stars in this action filled Hong Kong martial arts picture... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Jet Li's Fearless DVD Jet Li stars in his greatest role, as real-life master Huo Yuanji, founder of... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Once Upon A Time In China... Tsui Hark's exceptional epic delivers imaginative fight sequences that feature... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

The Forbidden Kingdom DVD It's all Jackie and Jet in this fist-flying fighting feature. Jackie Chan and... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

The Expendables DVD A who's who of the greatest action stars ever assembled gather in "The... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Hero (Special Edition)... Quentin Tarantino presents an unmissable Eastern martial arts film starring the... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Jet Lee, Li Lianjie, Lee Nin Kit, Jet Li Lianjie Died:
Born: April 26, 1963 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Beijing, CN Profession: actor, singer, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most popular stars of Hong Kong martial arts films throughout the 1990s, charismatic wushu champion Jet Li was at one time considered the heir apparent to the original master, Bruce Lee. After winning numerous gold medals while an adolescent national champion, Li made an auspicious film debut with the hit martial arts action flick, "The Shaolin Temple" (1982). Though continued success followed after two sequels, Li had a major breakthrough with "Once Upon a Time in China" (1990), a martial arts epic that gave Li what many considered to be the role of a lifetime - one he went back to several times over the course of his career. Despite the enormity of his popularity throughout Asia, Li's career had its share of ups and downs, particularly during the latter half of the nineties. Eventually Hollywood stood up and took notice, allowing the Hong Kong star to make his debut in the hit franchise, "Lethal Weapon 4" (1998). Even though he was consigned to playing two dimensional villains, he nonetheless had a toehold in the United States, though it took the Hong Kong epic "Hero" (2004) to turn Li into a bona fide star in America.Born Li Lian-Jie on April 26, 1963 in Beijing, China, Li was raised...

One of the most popular stars of Hong Kong martial arts films throughout the 1990s, charismatic wushu champion Jet Li was at one time considered the heir apparent to the original master, Bruce Lee. After winning numerous gold medals while an adolescent national champion, Li made an auspicious film debut with the hit martial arts action flick, "The Shaolin Temple" (1982). Though continued success followed after two sequels, Li had a major breakthrough with "Once Upon a Time in China" (1990), a martial arts epic that gave Li what many considered to be the role of a lifetime - one he went back to several times over the course of his career. Despite the enormity of his popularity throughout Asia, Li's career had its share of ups and downs, particularly during the latter half of the nineties. Eventually Hollywood stood up and took notice, allowing the Hong Kong star to make his debut in the hit franchise, "Lethal Weapon 4" (1998). Even though he was consigned to playing two dimensional villains, he nonetheless had a toehold in the United States, though it took the Hong Kong epic "Hero" (2004) to turn Li into a bona fide star in America.

Born Li Lian-Jie on April 26, 1963 in Beijing, China, Li was raised the youngest of five children. When he was only two, his father died, leaving him and his family to struggle on their own. At eight years old, he began studying wushu - Chinese for "martial arts" - which led to his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team when he was 11. Li soon toured the world after being selected by the government to represent the country by performing martial arts at various state functions, including on the White House lawn for President Richard Nixon in 1974 after he had opened relations with China. For the next five years, Li remained the All-Around National Wushu Champion of China, racking up numerous gold medals in competitions. By the time he was 17, Li retired from the sport, and a few short years later, made his feature debut in director Chang Hsin Yen's "The Shaolin Temple" (1982), the first Hong Kong action movie to be filmed on China's mainland. Li played a man who escapes death at the hands of the emperor and hides as a monk inside a temple where he trains in martial arts to extract revenge.

Li made a splash in his first film, which - despite being banned in Taiwan - went on to become popular in China and other parts of Asia, leading to two sequels, "Shaolin Temple 2: Kids From Shaolin" (1984) and "Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin" (1986). The ambitious young actor soon made his directorial debut with "Born to Defence" (1988), a martial arts actioner set after World War II which depicted American sailors as being predatory villains. Also that year, he obtained a two-year exit visa from China and set up shop in San Francisco, CA, where he made his first feature in the United States, "The Master" (filmed in 1989, but released in 1992). Meanwhile, Li starred in Billy Tang's action thriller "Dragon Fight" (1989), playing a famous acrobat trying to hunt down a former star-turned-career criminal in San Francisco. Once his visa expired, Li chose to settle in Hong Kong instead of returning to China, where he rejuvenated his career by signing with famed production company, Golden Harvest. Almost immediately, Li had a breakthrough role as real-life folk hero in "Once Upon a Time in China" (1990), directed by Asian master, Tsui Hark.

Despite critical carping over Li's relative youth and his training in another martial arts discipline, "Once Upon a Time in China" offered him one of the best roles of his career. Li played Wong Fei-Hung, a legendary 19th century doctor and martial arts expert who uses his skills to fight against Western forces - namely English, French and American -that are plundering China. A huge box office hit, the epic film was largely responsible for ushering in interest in Hong Kong filmmaking during the early 1990s. Li went on to reprise the role for two sequels, "Once Upon a Time in China II" (1992) an "Once Upon a Time in China III" (1993), though an ankle injury forced the use of a double in several fight sequences. Nevertheless, Li was a force to be reckoned with in a role many felt he was born to play. He did feel financially under-appreciated, however, and after a series of disputes, Li parted company with Golden Harvest. He was eventually replaced by another actor for two subsequent sequels.

Over the next five years, Li appeared in over two dozen films of varying quality. He scored as another martial artist hero, "Fong Sai Yuk" (1993), and played his signature role of Wong Fei Hung in the uneven actioner "The Last Hero in China" (1993), on which he also served as producer. After the slapstick "Tai Chi Master" (1993), he starred in "The New Legend of Shaolin" (1994), playing a kung fu master who joins forces with another martial arts expert (Chingmy Yau) to defend a Shaolin temple against invaders. His skills were amply served with the more realistically portrayed martial arts in "Fist of Legend" (1994), while "Black Mask" (1996) - an attempt to create a new franchise based on a popular Hong Kong comic book. Unfortunately, Li suddenly found his career on the wane once again. He attempted a revival by resuming the franchise "Once Upon a Time in China and America" (1997), which depicted his familiar character amidst cowboys and Indians in the American Old West. Though it performed well at the box office, the film proved to be the last installment with Li in the lead.

Meanwhile, Hollywood came calling for Li. But despite numerous offers from power players like Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, the action star took his time following fellow Hong Kong actors Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat to Los Angeles. At one time, he was attached to a Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, but withdrew just before filming. At last, after the Asian economy bottomed out and film production suffered, Li journeyed across the Pacific to appear in his first American studio film, playing the seemingly unbeatable martial artist villain opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the successful sequel, "Lethal Weapon 4" (1998). Li provided much of the heavy action lifting in the aging franchise, staying stone-faced while Gibson lobbed tired jokes at him. Li next starred in "Romeo Must Die" (2000), an earnest attempt to blend Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" with kung fu, pairing Li with late hip-hop artist Aaliyah as a star-crossed couple caught in the middle of a war between racially divided mobs in San Francisco. The film performed solidly at the box office, though critics - while praising Li's physical prowess - decried the seemingly unnecessary use of computer-aided effects in the action sequences.

After arriving in Hollywood, Li spent much time expanding his English vocabulary while taking hiatus to marry actress Nina Li Chi and see her through the birth of their twin daughters, which resulted in the new father turning down Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000). Inspired by his vow to protect his wife and child, Li received story credit on his next film, "Kiss of the Dragon" (2001), in which he plays a Chinese intelligence officer in Paris who comes to the aid of a single mom (Bridget Fonda) turned into a junkie hooker by a corrupt cop who kidnapped her daughter. Li next appeared in "The One" (2001) for writer-director James Wong, which added a sci-fi element to the martial arts genre. "The One" was a garbled, but often visually striking yarn in which Li played both the hero, Gabe Law, a popular and peaceable veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and the villainous Gabriel Yulaw, his doppelganger who gains power by murdering his alter egos in a multitude of parallel universes.

Though he found little initial success in the United States, Li scored one of his greatest cinematic triumphs, "Ying xiong" (2002), which was released in the United States in 2004 under the title "Hero." Li teamed with celebrated writer-director Zhang Yimou - known more for character dramas than kicks and fisticuffs - and fellow Asian martial arts stars Zhang Ziyi, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Daoming Chen and Donnie Yen for the big-budgeted tale set at the violent dawn of the Qin dynasty, circa 220 B.C. The soon-to-be first Emperor (Chen Daoming) is on the brink of conquering the war-torn land and three of his most passionate opponents (Cheung, Leung and Ziyi) are trying to assassinate him, opposed by the indomitable Li as Nameless, a lowly policeman who faces off against powerful forces. The film become a phenomenal hit in Asia and Europe, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2003 in the foreign language category before its North American release in 2004. "Hero" also proved to be a box office hit in the United States, where Li was finally introduced to his widest audience yet.

Along with his major international success, Li outdid "Hero" with his biggest Hollywood hit yet, "Cradle 2 the Grave" (2003), an action thriller that paired him with rapper-actor DMX. Meanwhile, Li had a personal close call in 2004. While vacationing in the Maldives, the massive tsunami that claimed over 100,000 lives hit the area. Though it was reported he may have been one of the countless victims of the tragic natural disaster, Li later emerged alive and well, save for a minor foot injury caused by a piece of floating debris while he was bringing his 4-year-old daughter Jane to safer ground. Back on screen, he starred in the action thriller "Unleashed" (2005), playing Danny, a man trained since childhood to be a vicious fighter. Kept in a dank basement in rags and a metal collar by his cruel Uncle Bart (Bob Hoskins), Danny finally breaks his bonds and finds redemption through love. The combination of martial arts and blunt sentimentality earned plenty of critical kudos for Li.

With his next film, the period epic "Fearless" (2006), Li claimed in a magazine interview that the movie would be his last wushu offering. He played a martial arts expert who tries to avenge the death of his loved ones and restore the family name by forming a famed kung fu school. Back in Hollywood, he was the villain in the action thriller, "War" (2007), playing a notorious hit man who incurs the wrath of an FBI agent (Jason Statham) when he guns down his family and his partner (Terry Chen) in cold blood. After starring opposite Jackie Chan for the first time ever in "The Forbidden Kingdom" (2008), Li appeared alongside Brendan Fraser in the third installment to the "Mummy" series, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" (2008), playing a resurrected emperor who intends to enslave the entire human race. Meanwhile, he was tapped to star alongside a who's who of action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren in "The Expendables" (2010).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Ocean Heaven (2012)
3.
4.
 Expendables, The (2010)
5.
 Jian guo da ye (2009)
6.
 Warlords, The (2008)
9.
 War (2007)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1971:
Began to study wu shu, a form of martial arts, at age eight
1974:
Won first gold medal as champion of the youth national athletic competition
1974:
Made first trip to the USA to perform in a wu shu troupe at the White House for President Richard Nixon
1974:
Represented China in wu shu demonstrations throughout the world; also won gold medals in 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1979
1982:
Feature film debut in "Shaolin Temple"; also starred in two sequels in 1984 and 1986
1986:
Directorial debut, "Born to Defend"; film was a box-office failure
1988:
Obtained two-year exit visa from China; settled in San Francisco; married and divorced
1989:
First feature filmed in the USA, "The Master" directed by Tsui Hark; film not widely released until 1992
1990:
Moved to Hong Kong; signed to a contract by Golden Harvest
1991:
Breakthrough role of Wong Fei-hung in "Once Upon a Time in China" directed by Tsui Hark
1994:
Producing debut with "Bodyguard From Beijing"; also starred
1998:
Cast in a villainous role in "Lethal Weapon 4"
2000:
Breakthrough role in "Romeo Must Die"
2001:
Had leading role in and co-produced "Kiss of the Dragon"; co-produced and co-written by Luc Besson
2001:
Cast as a man chasing various incarnations of himself across several dimensions in the sci-fi martial arts thriller "The One"
2001:
With Mel Gibson, executive produced the TBS movie "Invincible"
2003:
Reunited with "Romeo Must Die" co-star DMX and director Andrzej Bartkowiak for "Cradle 2 the Grave"
2004:
Teamed with Maggie Cheung in "Hero" (lensed 2001), directed by Zhang Yimou
2005:
Played an orphan, raised by a crime boss (Bob Hoskins) to function like an attack hound in Luc Besson's "Unleased"
2006:
Returned to roots of kung fu in "Fearless" (final martial arts film)
2007:
Played an assassin in "War" opposite Jason Statham
2008:
First onscreen collaboration with fellow Chinese actor Jackie Chan, "The Forbidden Kingdom"
2008:
Cast as the lead villain in the fantasy action film "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor"
2010:
Co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables," an 80s-style action adventure about a group of mercenaries who attempt to overthrow a South American dictator; film featured a Who's Who of action stars including Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Beijing Athletic School: - 1971

Notes

His official Web site is located at www.jet-li.com

"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," --Jet Li quoted in Village Voice, July 22, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Qiuyan Huang. Actor. Married in 1987; divorced; mother of Li's daughters.
wife:
Nina Li. Married on September 19, 1999.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Jane Li. Born on April 19, 2000.

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